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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...

Do You Feel Bullied or Threatened by Your Ex in Your Custody Case?

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This can happen a lot not only when there is an attorney on the other side and your representing yourself. But when you have a party on the other side who really feels like he or she can get his or her way by threatening, it happens a lot. It could be called interference with the custody case.

I talked to a father who was a potential client on the phone recently and he was very grateful to be talking to me because he was so scared and terrified that he was going to lose all rights to his kids and he was never going to get to see his children again.

His soon to be ex-wife in the case was telling him what rights he had and the rights that she was saying he had, was no rights to the children. She was telling him things that were not true.

One lie she told him was that like that "everyone" should know that when two parties are going through a divorce that the children need time away from the father to bond with the mother. And because this father didn't know any different, he was...

Should You File a Lawsuit if Custody Disputes Persist After Court Order?

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Filing a lawsuit when you & your ex continue to argue over custody issues after a court order has been issued is not always the best plan.

If you and your ex have already received a court order where the court has dictated what sort of custody plan you're sharing with the other parent or what parenting time and child support looks like, hopefully things will be settled for a while.

In many of my cases though, even after the court has issued an order, parties still end up getting into arguments and falling into dispute. A lot of these people in the middle of disputes with their exes come to me and their immediate knee jerk reaction is wanting to file a lawsuit.

So if you've ever been to family court before you know already that filing a lawsuit is not the path of least resistance. In most cases it takes a lot of energy, money, time and patience. It can be overwhelming.

So when people come to me and tell me 'my ex and I are not getting along because of X,Y & Z' I almost...

Difference Between One Party Having Sole Custody & That Party Terminating Other Party's Parental Rights

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In this video I want to talk about the difference between one party having sole custody or sole decision making over the children, and that party terminating the other party's parental rights. 

Let me tell you where this is coming from. Over the last couple of days I had a father come in to see me and he has spent a year long battle with his ex-wife over their children.

They fight like cats and dogs about everything and right now they are going through a custody battle and the father is just plain tired and ready to give up. He was considering just giving her all rights to the children. So, I need to clarify what he meant because when someone says to me that they want to give up all rights of their children then that potentially means having their rights as a parent terminated.

That is a big step. Having rights severed means that as a parent you will never again get to see your children. You won't have rights to parenting time or making decisions in your children's lives. Your...

Medical Marijuana Use and Child Custody

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As you probably know medical marijuana is now legal in many states. As time goes on I am getting more and more cases where individuals have marijuana cards. So with a medical marijuana card, it is legal for them to ingest marijuana for whatever their medical condition is.

There is some controversy because some people say that doctors are handing out these medical marijuana cards like candy. But the fact is if someone has a medical marijuana card they can have marijuana in their possession legally.

It's coming up in child custody and parenting time cases because often times when a party has a medical marijuana card, the other party is saying, either they don't need it or I'm really afraid that their use of marijuana is going to affect their ability to take care of this child and keep this child safe.

This is a valid concern. If you are in a situation where you have a medical marijuana card you have to make sure this usage of marijuana is not knocking you out to the extent that you...

Other Parent is Not Spending Time with Child During Their Parenting Time

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One parenting time dispute I see is when one parent does not spend time with the child during their agreed upon parenting time.

A lot of clients come to my office upset because the other parent, during their parenting time with the children, that parent is not actually spending time with the children.

They are shipping the child off to the grandmother's house or leaving the child with a step-parent or sending them over to the neighbor's house. And the parent who is upset because they say if that parent is not going to spend their time they are given with the children, then they would like to spend that time.

So in this situation and we are in the negotiating phase of a parenting time plan that is best for the children, I often talk about a provision called 'the first right of refusal'. If a parent can't spend with those children for the set amount of hours that was agreed upon in the parenting time agreement, then they have to give the other parent the opportunity to have the...

What Happens when Parents Who Have Joint Custody are Not Capable of Co-Parenting?

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When two people are not capable of co-parenting this can be either the fault of one person or mostly be the fault of both people. I have a hard time believing that the inability to co-parent is just the fault of one person. I tend to think that when there is an issue or dispute between two people some party has a role, even though it may be a very small role, in that ability to co-parent.

But what if two people have been at each other's throats and the relationship has been toxic for years or sometimes it's just several months. What if that inability to co-parent is really affecting the child and showing up in the child's behaviors at home or at school.

I have had the unfortunate experience of having a couple of judges really take severe action and doing something about that inability to co-parent. In a couple of my cases many years ago, some judges observed the parties and the fact that they were always in court. There was always high-conflict. There was always arguing and...

Service by Publication - Filing for Custody When the Other Parent is Missing

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If you are filing for custody & the other parent is missing these are steps for a service by publication.

Several times a year I have a client come to me for a consultation and they want to file a lawsuit to get custody of their child. The problem they are facing is the other parent may have been missing for months or even years. And the other parent feels stuck because they know they are required by law to give that parent notice of the lawsuit but they can't find that person.

Check with your state's statutes because there should be a provision within those statutes for service by publication. What that means if you cannot find the person then you can serve the person by publishing notice of the lawsuit in a special periodical. In Arizona we have several different newspapers where you can publish notice of a lawsuit. You're basically just putting it out there in case the person is reading that something has been filed and that they need to respond.

There are special rules...