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Why Would a GAL (Guardian Ad Litem) Favor Non-Parent in Child Custody Cases?

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Why would a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) favor the non-parent who is not the biological parent of the child when trying to determine what's in the best interests of the child?

Before I delve into answering this question let me explain what GAL stands for in legal speak. GAL means guardian ad litem and a guardian ad litem is an individual, usually an attorney who is appointed by the court to represent the interests of the child. Oftentimes the GAL is given special powers by the court where they can investigate allegations that are being made or where they can observe interaction between the child and the involved parties.

 The GAL al may be able to talk with the child if the child is old enough to express his or her wishes.   So there are a lot of functions that this GAL can perform.  And the GAL then can provide a report or an update to the court and provide recommendations about what he or she thinks is in the best interests of the child.  So in this case the...

Reasons You May Have to Pay The Other Party's Attorney's Fees in Family Law Cases

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This video is about reasonableness as it relates to the issues of attorneys fees and costs in a family law case.

 I've had a couple of recent recent cases where the judges hammered my clients with awards of attorneys fees.  One case the award was approaching $20,000, and that award was so much that it actually sent my client into bankruptcy.   So I want to explain to you where judges ended up saying that one person owes the other party attorneys fees and costs.

First of all obviously one person has to have an attorney, so if you're doing this case on your own and the other side is the one who has an attorney really have to be aware that paying some or all of the other side's attorneys fees and cost could be a possibility.   The next thing you have to understand is that in making a decision about attorney’s fees and costs, the judge is going to look at whether parties are being reasonable in their positions or whether they're taking positions that...

Pay Close Attention to Your Child's Behavior to Make Sure Your Parenting Plan is in The Best Interest of Your Child

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If you have a parenting time agreement you need to play close attention to your child's behavior & whether your parenting plan is in the best interest of your child.

Paying attention to his or her behaviors and deciding whether or not there's something that you need to do differently or you need to work with the other parent on. You need to make sure that your child is above all happy. When you're in the middle of a custody case it really is all about the children. I've talked about in many of my videos how everything that the judge is going to consider points to what's best for the child.

I'm raising this issue because I just got out of court and in this particular case it really should be an easy case result. But it hasn't been unfortunately because from my perspective the father is really angry and bitter and he's trying to control the mother. So at a prior court hearing the parties agreed that when the other parent was having parenting time with the child that the parent...

Can I Leave the State With My Child Without Telling the Other Parent?

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I had a client recently who had been with her partner for a while and he had been emotionally and physically abusive to her.  She wanted to leave the state and take their child with her.

She wanted to know if she could just do that without letting the other parent know because there was no court order in place.  I always say in many of my videos that you have to consult the laws in your jurisdiction. 

 I don't know what the laws in your jurisdiction are because I have viewers from as far as Australia.  In cases where there has been emotional abuse or domestic violence if the other parentI has been involved with the life of the child to any extent, it is probably not a good idea to take the child and run.

 It seems like that would be the easiest thing to do in many situations. It would probably would be the safest thing to do for the parent and the child but in the long run it could really cause some heartache for you and the child if the other parent...

Don't Let Setbacks in Your Custody Case Get You Down

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Setbacks are just a part of life. Everyone will experience setbacks in their life. That includes judges, attorneys, you, the other side in your custody case. I wanted to cover this topic because of a very difficult and challenging case that I experienced.

In this case the father was my client and his ex had taken off with their child and they had shared custody. He eventually was reunited with his child after not knowing where his child was for 3-weeks.

Over those 3-weeks we filed motions with the court trying to get some sort of relief or orders that the child be returned to my client immediately. The problem was we did not know where my client's ex was, so we weren't able to serve her with paperwork.

At one point we had tracked her down to Aruba from her Instagram account but there were no pictures of the child so we did not know where the child was either. It felt like a roller coaster especially with the filing of all these different motions. And when the judge would make these...

Don't Project Your Personal Issues Onto Your Child

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In family law cases often one party will move on with a new partner leaving the other feeling betrayed, bitter, hurt & angry & projecting those negative emotions onto the child.  This is a super huge topic and I know that therapists probably work for years with people on this topic and it's not something that I can cover in a 3-minute video.

 I'm a perfectionist and when I'm helping with my daughter with her homework I can see myself really wanting to force her to do everything perfect and make every letter perfect. That’s not what I want to do and I check myself and I'm sure I'm doing it in ways that I'm not aware of.

 What I see in these family law cases though is people who are aware of what they're doing and they do it anyway and they do it in a way that's harmful to the child.   Let me give you an example and this is kind of a it's a comprehensive cumulative example of a lot of cases that I've had over the years.  It is where two...

If You Are Facing Obstacles in Your Custody Case Think Outside the Box

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In this video I talk about tapping into your creativity to overcome obstacles in your case.

As you go into your family law case don't forget to tap into your inner creativity. I believe all of us are artists whether you paint or draw pictures or a mechanic that works on cars, or someone who likes to cook in the kitchen or help your child color.

Because we are all artists we are born with this creativity that we can choose to tap into it or not. There are a lot of chances and opportunities in your family case to tap into your creativity.

This is an example I want to give and I've talked about this case in other videos as well. In this case my client who was the father, their child went missing for a period of 3-weeks. We jumped through all kinds of hoops to get the child and get the judge to order the mom to remand the child to my client's custody. There were a lot of setbacks along the way, my client didn't give up on me and I didn't give up either.

But one of the obstacles we had...

The Importance of Legal Definitions in Your Custody Case

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Today i want to talk about the importance of legal definitions in your custody case. Whatever country or state you are in you need to look at the custody laws for your state. There is probably going to be a section of the law that sets forth definitions of certain legal terms.

For example it is probably going to have definitions of what it means to have legal decision making or legal custody of your child. Also physical custody, parenting time or domestic violence. There are a lot of definitions for custody and you really need to get familiar with these definitions.

The reasons I want to bring this idea up specifically because in one of my client's cases (father of the child) the other party was accusing my client of domestic violence during the relationship. He discovered by definition of domestic violence didn't apply in his case. But what he also discovered in the definition section of the statutes in his state, was that not only did the law in his state provide for domestic...

'Preserving the Record' in Custody Court & Why You Need To In Case You Appeal in the Future

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As you head into trial for your custody hearing not only should you be worried about what it is that you're talking to your trial judge about (because your trial judge is the one who's going to be making decisions about your custody case. And also decisions about your future, your finances and your future with your children.

However you also need to be worried and prepared about a courts involvement in your custody case down the road. Hopefully in your custody case you are going to get a result that either you're really happy with or that you ca at least live with.

But if you find yourself getting a result after your custody trial with your trial judge and you're in a situation that you're not happy with. Or it's not one that you can live with or not in the best interest of your children. You think that your judge abused his or her discretion or the result was just plain wrong, then you may need to appeal those results.

The appeals court is going to look at many things but one of...

Before You Begin Your Custody Case Be Sure You Are Clear on What You Want

One of the most important things you need to do before you begin your custody case is be really clear on what you want.

You have to know what you want and you have to be able to express it to the judge. Because if you can't express it if you don't know, then there is no way you are going to be able to convince the judge in your custody hearing or the other party to give you what you want.

Another really important thing is not just know what you want but knowing the reasons why you want what you want. And making sure the reasons for your request actually support the request. I know this sounds kind of vague so I'm going to give you an example.

The other day I was in custody court on a case and I was representing the mother of a little 9-year old girl and she and Dad had been sharing joint custody several years. They had been doing really well from my client's perspective. They were also exercising an equal parenting time plan.

Out of nowhere Dad serves my client with paperwork to...