Updated: Jul 8, 2020
Your Attorney is your advisor and advocate with the court. They are trained and experienced to help you with the legal system, but they are busy professionals. An Attorney's time is valuable to them and can be expensive if you are not prepared. Here are five of my tips that will help prepare you for your journey into Family Court.
1. Define your custody goal. ✓ Be clear and specific. For example, I want 50/50 custody. I want to avoid a jurisdiction change. I want child support raised to $800. ✓ State why this is reasonable. I have lived in one place for three years while the other parent is moving again. We have been to this court before; the judge knows our case. My Ex has just gotten a big promotion. ✓ Emphasize what is best for the child. My Ex has a new wife with her own kids; my child needs more from me. I can’t afford the distant travel for my child’s visits. My child is growing so fast and needs new clothes all the time. ✓ Prioritize, don’t ask for everything at once. Not: I want 50/50 custody and no change of jurisdiction and child support raised to $800. 2. Know Best-Interest-Of-The-Child guidelines in your state. ✓ Every state has its standard list. The judge will consider this list when ruling on your case. Read it over again and again. ✓ Build your case around this list. Think like the judge will think about what’s best for your child. 3. Organize your evidence. ✓ Decide if you have the relevant evidence, or if you have to create it. Evidence must be documented. Print out emails, Facebook posts, texts etc... ✓ Create a timeline. Pair your evidence to prove your point in a true, credible, documented time sequence. ✓ If you need to build evidence, begin communicating only by email and text so you will have the documents you need. ✓ Prepare evidence to defend yourself against what you feel may be used against you. . ✓ Think twice about everything you email, text and post. Be rational and reasonable. Say less and say it carefully. Your Ex will highlight your angriest posts or communications to the court. 4. Collect medical, educational, tax and expense documents. ✓ Copy school reports to show attendance, academic scores and behavioral issues. ✓ Assemble medical records showing missed appointments, ignored medical suggestions, medical visits you have not been notified to co-attend. ✓ Note any changes in medical professionals without your knowledge or consent. ✓ Check dental records to make sure your child is up-to-date. ✓ Keep receipts of what you spend – food, housing, clothing, gas. Use notation on your checks. Keep your monthly credit card bills and annual tax statements. 5. Plan how YOU want to present your case. ✓ Define your desired outcome and assemble your evidence in such an organized timeline that your outcome is the only logical choice. ✓ Remember that your case must be built around the best interest of the child guidelines in your state. ✓ Have a realistic expectation of how long it can take to achieve your result. Legal cases are seldom resolved in a single court session. ✓ Be open to the possibilities of orders you can ask for during a trial to move you towards the custodial and parenting plan that you want. Preparing the case WITH your attorney can take multiple sessions and months of organizing before the attorney gets to court to contribute their unique value presenting and arguing your case. My goal and the purpose of these checkpoints is to help you prepare your case FOR your attorney so that your attorney's time and your funds are used in the most effective way. #FamilyCourt #ParentsNotVisitors #SharedParenting #mrscustodycoach