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Parental Disputes Over School Choice in Joint Custody

In joint custody school choice usually comes up when two parents can't agree on where a child is going to go to school. When I started doing family law over two decades ago, the subject of school choice rarely came up. But this is something that comes up more and more in my practice as of late.

It really comes up when one parent wants the child to go to a private school, for example, that costs money and the other parent wants the child to go to a public school because he or she can't afford the cost of the private school.

In litigating these types of cases, this is the type of information that I have my client research and that I present to the judge. First and foremost I want to know what the different ratings are for each of the schools that are options. I have my client go online and do research. It's pretty easy to do that. You can get the ratings, student teacher ratio and download and print out any other resources that are available. Then I usually use those print outs as...

Avoid This Mistake When Preparing a Petition to Modify Custody or Parenting Time

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This is an example of a petition to modify custody or parenting time that went wrong when it was presented to the judge. 

A recently consulted with a potential client and this potential client had gotten a document prepared for him. He did this to help him in preparing a petition to modify custody and parenting time with his children.

What ended up happening though was when the judge took a look at the client'w petition to modify the document prepared had prepared the judge found that that petition did not set forth a legal reason for custody to be modified. As a result the judge just dismissed the case and didn't even give the client a potential hearing.

It doesn't happen a lot but more and more judges are doing it because they are so overwhelmed with cases and if they don't find that the person establishes the bare necessity of what they need to in their pleading, in their motion, the judge may dismiss the case.

So this is a tip that I gained and want to share with you...

What if Child Does Not Want to Spend Time with The Other Parent?

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What happens when a child tells one parent they don't want to spend time with the other parent?

I get a ton of questions all the time from people who have children that are old enough to express themselves and they are mature enough to say what they want and don't want.

And those kids are telling one parent that they don't want to go and spend time with the other parent. This can be a problem especially if there is a court order in place that says the other parent is entitled to a certain amount of parenting time.

You are always obligated to follow the court order. If you don't follow the court order you could be brought in front of the court for an enforcement action which means the judge could force you to follow the order. At the very worst you could be brought in front of the court for a contempt of court proceeding in which the judge would look at whether or not you knowingly and willfully violated the court order.

In some cases judges really get unhappy when someone doesn't...

Can You Withhold Parenting Time if Your Spouse Fails to Pay Child Support?

In my family law practice a lot of people come to me, especially those who are entitled to receive child support. They want to know if they are entitled to withhold parenting time from the other parent due to non-payment of child support.

My inclination is to say No, because that is not in the child's best interest. Parenting time and child support are two separate issues. Just like if a parent is obligated by a court order to pay child support...if there is then is a court order in effect that says a parent is entitled to a certain amount of parenting time, then they are entitled to get it.

The parent may not be happy because they are not getting child support, but they still must give the other parent the parenting time according their agreement. Because if they don't, they could face the same consequences that the parent who is failing to pay child support faces.

So, there are ways to get a parent to pay child support if they are not doing it, other than withholding parenting...

Obtaining a Restraining Order/Order of Protection in a Custody or Divorce Case.

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Restraining orders can be called different things depending on the jurisdiction you live in. For example in Arizona there are 2 types of restraining order in the family law arena. One is called an order of protection & an order of protection could be placed into effect by a judge if a person comes in and is able to convince the judge that either domestic violence has occurred in a relationship or that it could occur in the relationship.

In this type of order you have to show the court that there's some sort of domestic relationship. It doesn't necessarily have to be a marriage. It could be a boyfriend/girlfriend type of situation or a living together situation. But there does have to be some sort of romantic relationship.

The other type of restraining order in Arizona is called an injunction against harassment. So as far injunctions against harassment, there may not necessarily be domestic violence. Domestic violence is not needed to get an injunction against harassment, nor...

Don't Make Playing Games Part of Your Strategy in a Custody Battle

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Is harassing, annoying or embarrassing the other party in your custody case part of your strategy?

If it is, you need to rethink your strategy. When you are involved in a custody case, a lot of it is about strategizing. You have to decide what moves you are going to make and take reasoned action. To that end then, a custody case or family law case is in a sense, a game.

But the games I am talking about are the games where the intentions are harassing or annoying or embarrassing the other side. This does happen in my cases from time to time because their are family law attorneys who like to play 'below the belt' games.

As a family law attorney my strategy is resolving the case in a way that serves my client and serves the best interest of the children. So if I have a client who wants to do things or proceed in ways simply because they think it will harm the other parent in some way, embarrassing, humiliating them. That is just a bad idea. Bad Karma is not a legal term but it playing...

'Local' Relocation Can Impact the Lives of Your Child & Your Parenting Rights

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Moving from one part of the city or town to the next CAN have an impact on your child & your custody rights.

Local relocation is when one parent is moving from one part of a city or town to another where the distance is for example 45 minutes or an hour away from the other parent.

'Relocation' normally will be used when you are talking about one parent moving either to another city or another state, or . These local relocation cases can really have an impact on a parent's time that they are able to exercise and also on the children.

This is a case I am working with now. A few years ago two parties went through a custody proceeding and at the time they were living pretty close to each other, about 10 to 15 mins away from each other. That is a nice distance when parents are sharing children in common. Fast forward a few years later and the mother decided that she wanted to move, so she moved about 45 minutes away from where the father lived.

These parents had been sharing equal...

Can a Significant Other's Criminal History Hurt a Custody Case

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The answer to that question is maybe. It depends on several different factors. Your judge first and foremost. The kind of criminal history or conviction that your spouse or significant other has. Are we talking about marijuana use, drug issues, domestic violence or sexual abuse conviction, assault, assault with a deadly weapon.

Another factor is how long ago did they get the conviction or criminal history. For example if it has been 20 years since they have been convicted and they have not had another incident since, then a judge may not put a lot of weight on that IF it is NOT a conviction like murder, sexual assault, etc. If this is the case, then a judge probably will hold that against your significant other forever.

A few examples where a judges in my cases have held a significant other's criminal history or actions against them. About 10 years ago I had a client who was a pretty good Mom. Her and her ex-husband were very high conflict and were always going back to court. He...

Winning a Child Custody Relocation Case is Extremely Difficult

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Relocation cases are some of the most difficult cases that judges have to decide in a child custody case.

Judges have told me in these type of cases there is a clear winner and a clear loser. If the judge rules that the child can relocate with a parent then that parent 'wins' and the other parent loses and vice versa.

The burden of proof is on the person seeking to have the children relocate with them. That means that they have to prove to the judge that relocating the child is in the child's best interest. Depending on where you live there is a list of factors, on top of the normal 'Child's Best Interest Factors' that the judge needs to look at to decide whether relocation is in the child's best interest.

So where ever you live, you need to do relocation research and find out what the relocation laws are in your state. You need to know each and every factor the judge is going to look at because you have to adjust each and every one of them.

In your relocation hearing , If a parent...

Never Ask Your Child to Keep a Secret From the Other Parent in a Custody Battle

Asking your child to keep secrets from the other parent is never a good thing, not for the child & not for your custody case.

The other evening I was at Trader Joe's and saw a guy with his little girl who appeared to be about 4 years old. He looked to be with what appeared to be his girlfriend. The little girl had a cup and Trader Joe's was giving out samples of their coffee.

I overheard him say, 'How's your coffee?' I thought to myself, she's a little young to be drinking coffee and not only that it was about 6:30pm. The little girl said it was good, and he replied, 'Well you don't need to tell your Mom that I let you drink coffee, and he went on to say 'You don't need to tell your Mom a lot of the things we do together. And she said, 'well I don't tell Mom what we do together' and then he got on her case, 'Well you told Mom I let you watch DeadPool'

Now DeadPool is a really funny movie but it is definitely not appropriate for a 4-year old. But aside from that, what I really...