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Trying to Settle Your Custody Case Outside of the Courtoom


Over the course of 20+ years as a practicing attorney, I’ve taken a lot of custody cases to trial but I’ve also settled a lot of cases.  In fact more of the cases I’ve handled have settled outside of the courtroom. These cases usually get both parties the best results.  Settling on their own terms vs. having the judge tell them what they are going to do with their lives and their children.

Right now I am trying to help settle a case for a client that’s been going on for over a year.  There are a lot of issues including decision-making also known custody of the child as well as parenting time.   In the course of this year we’ve extended a number of settlement offers to he and his attorney.  He has not even responded to any of those settlement offers.  And what has happened is that we have had to go to trial a few times.  We keep thinking we are going to get the case done in one trial setting in several...

Sometimes We Struggle Unnecessarily As We Move Through Our Child Custody Case

There are times in life when we all struggle and sometimes there is struggle as you move through your custody case.  In fact I found myself fretting for a few weeks about what to do in a recent case.  I spent a lot of time struggling to find a solution for my client and overlooked one easy solution because I didn’t think it was possible.  It turned out it was. 

Back in August and September the parties had engaged in a full mediation session with a mediator who was court appointed.  They both arrived at a full agreement and in Arizona these agreements, if signed by both parties are called Rule 69 agreements.

They are binding in the eyes of the court and it’s very difficult to get out of it.   A week or two after they had signed this full agreement my client decided that he really didn’t want the agreement.  I thought uh oh, it’s really going to be hard to get out of this agreement.  I started searching for a ground...

Who You Should Listen To In Your Child Custody Case

If you have a family law attorney or have consulted with a family law attorney, it’s probably a good idea to listen to your attorney about the rules and laws of your state, about your judge or the other side’s strategy.

The trap I see a lot of people falling into when they are going through a custody case is they start listening to their cousin or their best friend, maybe a co-worker or their new significant other. This causes a lot of confusion in the mind of the client and especially so when the client has hired an attorney to represent them in their case.

I bring this up because I have a client who I love and care about and have been working with her on her case for about a year.  In the course of the case my client met somebody.  He was someone who had gone through his own divorce and custody battle and has his own opinions about how things should be handled.

 And those opinions are not necessarily in line with my opinions.  And while I have...

Is it a Good Idea to Enroll Your Child in Therapy If You Share Joint Custody & The Other Parent Does Not Agree To It

My answer is if you share joint custody this is not a good idea at all to go against the other parent's wishes. You need to have the consent of the other parent or a court order to do that. In some cases I have had parents make major decisions for their children that the other parent was not in agreement with and it actually caused them to lost custody of their children.

When it comes to decision making or custody it usually pertains to major decisions for the life of the children. For example mental health treatment, medical treatment, education, in some cases religion. In Arizona we have personal care decisions. Which amounts to for example can the child get their hair colored blue or a mohawk or get all kinds of piercings.

If you share joint custody with another parent then you have to discuss those categories of major decisions with that parent before making one of those major decisions. Certainly enrolling your child into some sort of mental health counseling would be a major...

Choose the Evidence You Use at Your Child Custody Trial Wisely


I've said it more than once in some of my past videos that if there's any evidence that you think that you might possibly want to use at trial, that you disclose it in advance and in accordance with the laws of your jurisdiction.   That way if you decide you want to use certain pieces of it as evidence you actually have the option to use it. 

You don't have to use all of the evidence that you disclose.  But when you're getting ready for trial and you're deciding what evidence that you're going to actually try to admit I want to encourage you to be really careful about the evidence that you pick. Be careful that the evidence actually shows what you want it to show. 

 I want to give you an example from a trial that I just had last week.   In this particular case I was representing the father.  Mother took him back to court because she wanted to reduce his parenting time from almost equal to every other weekend.   Mother submitted...

Lying, Cheating Witnesses in the Courtroom

At a very young age, my grandmother gave me some sage advice about lying. She told me that if I was  going to be a liar, I'd better have a good memory. Why? Well, because I would have to keep track of all the lies I'd told so as not to get caught.

OK, OK. I have to admit - I've lied before. Even to important people in my life. Please don't judge. I'm human. I'm guessing that if you're anything like me (a human), you've lied, too. I've realized that it's usually a lot easier to just tell the damn truth.

Telling the truth doesn't always happen. Believe it or not, it doesn't always happen EVEN in the courtroom. Yes. People lie ALL. THE. TIME. Even on the stand.

I see it. I hear it. I can't believe it.

It might seem like common sense advice ("don't lie"), but I just finished a custody trial where the opposing party (a law enforcement officer) was subjected to an internal affairs investigation at work - for lying. When she got on the stand, that's the first thing I...

When a Custody Battle Takes a Physical and Emotional Toll On You


I know all too well the emotional and physical toll high conflict custody battles can take on the people who are involved.  I’ve recently finished 2 very high conflict cases that have taken a toll not only on my clients but on myself personally.  So this is just a little bit of real world advice that’s not necessarily legal but is still very important to your case. 

Over the last couple of months I have been dealing with some pretty heavy duty cases that I have been having to take to trial. They involve situations where there has been domestic violence, substance abuse and mental health issues all in the same case. It's not unusual to have one of these issues in a custody case but it is rare to have all of them at once.

Not only am I dealing with these issues with these cases, I'm dealing with parties who are very high conflict with each other. I am dealing with parties in some situations who are making demands that are really unreasonable or who have...

You Are the Perfect Parent

Come as you are, as you were
As I want you to be
As a friend, as a friend
As an known enemy

Take your time, hurry up
The choice is yours, don't be late
Take a rest as a friend
As an old

Memoria, memoria
Memoria, memoria

Come doused in mud, soaked in bleach
As I want you to be
As a trend, as a friend
As an old


Memoria, memoria
Memoria, memoria

-Nirvana, 1991

You aren't perfect and you never will be. Yet, you ARE perfect. Just as you are. You are the perfect person. You are the perfect parent.

There's always to room to improve, but don't hold yourself hostage thinking about the things you've done in the past.

My best friend is a man is who was married before he found me.  When he married his first wife, he was young and really just wanted to be free.

He and his wife had two kids. The marriage didn't work. He left. He didn't just leave the house. Or the city. Or the state. He actually left the country. And, for the most part, his kids were raised by their Mom and stepfather...

Focus on Solutions NOT Problems From the Past In Your Custody Case


Forgiveness is not a legal topic but I want to talk to you about focusing on solutions vs. the problems that have happened in the past.

I know if you've been wronged that the past is hard to let go of. but I do get it. When you go to trial you have to focus on the problems. You have to focus on what each party said in the past and what each party did in the past.

That involves a lot of rehashing conversations, text messages, emails and behaviors. Fortunately that's a necessary evil when you to trial because a judge can only make a decision on what's happened in the past.

Practically speaking if you want to make some headway in your custody case with the other parent as well as the judge in the courtroom then I really think it's important to at least think about focusing on solutions. And not being so hung up on the past.

I do understand that there are some situations where the person had serious mental health conditions or a narcissistic personality. I understand that it makes it...

Unreasonably Withholding Consent When You Are Sharing Custody

I want to talk with you about this notion of unreasonably withholding consent.   I bring this up because I see it come up again and again in my cases.  I saw it come up recently in one of my cases where the father in the situation wanted to take their child to Disneyland during a weekend when the father’s parents were coming in from out of state.   They came in just so they could all travel to California and go to Disneyland.   

In this particular situation my client didn’t give father an answer about Disneyland for days and he was asking her via email and text messages.  He repeatedly was asking “Can we go? Can we go?”.  She was addressing other matters and she was trying to get other things from father related to other situations they had going on. But she would not address this Disneyland issue and in my mind mother’s failure to address this issue promptly was the unreasonable withholding of consent.