Practice Areas: Child Custody

Assisting your Custody Attorney

Perhaps more than any other area of family law, child custody actions depend on the individual circumstances of the parties. As a result, a parent's personality, habits, and often, past indiscretions, will come to light in litigation or in pleadings. An attorney's primary job is to explain a client's strengths as a parent. Secondarily, an attorney will contrast his client's strengths with the other parties' weaknesses.

When client's first speak with a child custody lawyer about a potential custody action, they often begin by focusing on the perceived weaknesses of the other parent. While this information is very important, it is more important for the attorney to know the strengths and potential weaknesses of your current circumstances.

So, what can you do to assist your child custody attorney in preparing your case? Providing detailed information about your education, employment, home, schedule and routines can assist tremendously in your attorney's initial preparation of your case. It can also help minimize your legal costs.
Information you should be prepared to provide to your child custody attorney includes the following:

1) Your Story. A description of your role as a primary care giver, including current impediments to this role. Provide information about:

  • Education;
  • Extra curricular activities (sports, music, ballet, amusement parks, museums);
  • Medical (doctor visits, chronic illnesses, any conditions that affect the parent/child relationship);
  • Home life and living environment;
  • Religious affiliation and practice, if any.

2) Income and Employment routine. Provide information about:
  • Your work schedule;
  • The need for third party caretakers, daycare and/or after-school care;
  • Your ability to support yourself and your family with only your income and applicable child support.

3) Future Custody Plan.  Please let your custody attorney know what parenting schedule you believe is in the best interests of your children. Remember, the Courts like to minimize the change to the children to the extent possible. If you are asking for a drastic change, please be ready to discuss why you believe that the change is necessary for the children.

Moreover, be prepared to discuss the potential practical limitations to your proposed parenting arrangement. Distance between parties, domestic violence orders, and extracurricular activity schedules often serve as impediments to standard parenting schedules.

The next step in preparing your custody case is gathering evidence. Your child custody attorney will need to prove each element of your case through evidence. Your testimony is only part of your case. Click here to learn about evidence used in child custody litigation.

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