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Previous poster going to court in a few days; wants to know chances


Your Question:
I have wrote to you before in regard to the matter of child custody. Anyway, the Law Guardian has recommended that we have 50/50 custody and the referee has recommended that she has residential custody with liberal visitation. I have been out of the house for almost a month now and only get to see my daughter and Son for a total of 3 days. I wrote to her an e-mail once a day asking for time with the children. She always have an excuse for why I can't have them. We have a court date this Friday and my atourney recommended that we go for full custody. She is a stay at home mom, but I takes care of my children everyday once I get home from work. what are the chances that I will get full custody of my children?

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My Answer:
Hi,

Thanks for writing again. Everything that I said in my prior response (here) still stands in terms of it being GAL vs. referee, and it'll largely depend upon which of those two carry more weight with your particular judge.

That said, I think your situation has changed a bit since you wrote me three weeks ago. You did well by asking her daily for time with the kids, and I'm sure you'll print out all those emails and give them to your attorney to use as evidence, if needed.

If what you say it true, your ex has made it very very clear that it is her intent to keep you away from the kids. Your attorney, if competent, should be able to demonstrate this to the judge. At the same time, your attorney can have you testify that YOU would never do something like that; that YOU recognize how critical it is for the kids to spend quality time with both parents. It's going to be very tough for your ex to say something similar in the face of, "Ms. X, in the past month, isn't it true that dad asked you 29 times to spend time with the kids, and you only let the kids see him 3 times?"

So, where does that leave you?

If your attorney is able to demonstrate what you outlined, I don't think there's much chance at all that your ex will get sole custody. I also think you're going to get a very clear parenting plan (i.e., not some arbitrary jargon like 'liberal visitation shall occur') because the court should see that your ex will need specific orders on a parenting schedule for the kids to see you.

However, what that timeshare will be... it's going to be up to the judge. Both attorneys probably know that there's a wildcard element here, and they both may encourage each of you to settle.

Presuming that both of you are decent-enough parents, there are no concerns about drugs or abuse, I think the chances of either of you getting sole custody are slim. But obviously, I don't know your entire situation based upon a short paragraph.

I'd guess (just a gut instinct guess) that you'll end up with something anywhere from 30/70 to 50/50, odds slightly leaning towards your ex (i.e., because she's historically been the one raising the kids).

But again, you and your attorney may have additional information about your situation that I simply don't have.

So, all of that said... I think you have a strong card to play in how your ex has been keeping the kids from you-- a good reason that she should have LESS time than current and NO unilateral control of the kids. You don't want to give her a similar card, so I don't know if I'd recommend going for an aggressive sole custody move on your part.

Instead, if you lay out a parenting plan that provides approximately 60% timeshare in your home, you have a place to negotiate down to 50/50.

Ultimately, if you have no doubt to question the competency of your attorney, then follow the attorney's advice. Ask him many questions, and listen to the answers. If his strategy and approach make sense, then do it. He also probably has insight into how your judge operates. It could be that this particular judge has a hot button for alienation tactics (i.e., what your ex is doing), and you DO have a shot at sole custody.

The fact that the attorney is pushing you to try for sole custody means one of two things: 1) he wants to spike his billable hours by taking this into an adversarial trial, or 2) he thinks you have a reasonable shot.

In any event, I can't imagine that you won't get a large amount of time with your kids, given everything you've outlined. Please let me know what happens.

Eric





This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.


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