California Divorce Start Your Divorce Find Professionals California Articles Divorce Facts Divorce Grounds Residency Divorce Laws Legal Separation Annulments Property Division Alimony Child Custody Child Support Divorce Forms Process Service Grandparent Rights Forum California Products Divorce by County
Agreements Attorney Relationship Custody & Visitation Child Support Collaborative Law Counseling Divorce/General Domestic Abuse Domestic Partnership Financial Planning Foreign Divorce Mediation Parenting Property Division Spousal Support
How to Fight the Custody Battle
For many reasons, communities and judges react differently to fault testimony. Their reaction depends on many factors. Perhaps the community is conservative or there has been a great deal of publicity about a recent child-abuse case. Something in the judge's own life may influence a decision. The law differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Adultery may be automatic grounds for denial of custody in Waco, Texas, but it probably will not impress a judge in downtown Los Angeles. Each judge has his or her own prejudices that should be thoroughly researched before making your appearance.
Make Your Case Come Alive
Describe to the judge in graphic detail the conduct and behavior of the other spouse. It is not enough to state that Dad is cruel. Present specific evidence showing incidents of his cruelty. If Dad abuses the children, recount the Saturday last week when Dad grabbed Billy by the ear and held him with his face against the table until he said "please" (he was just asking to pass the salt at the dinner table). Describe the blood-curdling scream of the child, the look in Dad's eyes, and the reaction of the other children who cowered in fear. Make the testimony come alive.
If you have tapes, movies, photos, drawings, broken dishes, torn clothing, letters, notes, and other demonstrative evidence, use it to command the judge's attention by marking it as an exhibit and introducing it as evidence.
Fault Testimony Can Backfire
A client is often tempted to become petty and vindictive. The attorney must be careful not to adopt this attitude. It can be contagious. The one thing a judge dislikes more than a whining client is an attorney who is self-righteous and emotionally involved. Remain professional and composed. An impassioned plea on behalf of your client may persuade a judge, but more often than not, a judge is interested in a clear explanation of the facts of the case.
Avoid being malevolent and spiteful in your presentation. Your blistering cross-examination has revealed that Mom is an adulterous and promiscuous woman. She is in tears. You have humiliated and intimidated her. But you may have inadvertently elicited the sympathy of the court for this woman. By toning down your examination, you will prevent a backlash from the court. Show that your client understands the difficulties his wife is going through and would help her if he could. However, do not go overboard or be maudlin in your efforts to show your own client's sympathetic feelings for his ex-spouse.
In your efforts to denigrate the other spouse, make sure your client comes across as a human being. People are not impressed with a perfectionist. Let your client admit character flaws. If these are elicited through carefully prepared testimony, it can increase the receptivity of the court by showing that your client is genuine.
Conclude on a Positive Note
After presenting your fault evidence, conclude the case on a positive note. If the judge is left with the impression that all you can show is that the other spouse is rotten, he or she may assume that your client is no better. Establish that your client is the primary psychological parent. Show that it is in the children's best interest for your client to have custody. Conclude your case in such a way that the judge will know that by awarding your children custody, the children will be in a safe and loving home. The following list describes some common and some not-so-common faults that can be the basis for a change in custody. This list is not intended to cover every imaginable deviation or reason for denying custody. That would fill volumes. It is intended to give the attorney a checklist that could be used in a client interview to bring out possible undisclosed information. The checklist that follows should be adapted for your community and judge.
In a summary dissolution, a hearing with the judge is typically not needed. A marriage of five years or less may be ended by summary dissolution, which is a simplified procedure to terminate a marriage in the state of California. With a summary dissolution, a joint petition is filed when 1) either spouse meets the standard residency requirement, 2) the marriage is irretrievably broken down due to irreconcilable differences, 3) the marriage is childless, 4) the wife is not pregnant, 5) neither spouse owns real estate, 6) there are no unpaid debts greater than $4,000, 7) the total value of community property is less than $25,000, 8) neither spouse has separate property (excluding cars and loans) of greater than $25,000, 9) the spouses have reached an agreement regarding the division and distributions of assets and liabilities, 10) both waive their rights to maintenance and appeal; 11) both have read a brochure about summary dissolution and 12) both desire to end the marriage.
Easily Connect With a Lawyer or Mediator
Have Divorce Professionals from Your Area Contact You!
|Women's Rights Manual For Divorce
Cover Price: $
Your Price: $29.95
You Save: $26.00
"The Absolute Best Investment in Your Divorce"
|Men's Rights Manual For Divorce
Cover Price: $
Your Price: $29.95
You Save: $26.00
"Uncover Your Options and Unleash Solutions"
|The information contained on this page is not to be considered legal advice. This website is not a substitute for a lawyer and a lawyer should always be consulted in regards to any legal matters. Divorce Source, Inc. is also not a referral service and does not endorse or recommend any third party individuals, companies, and/or services. Divorce Source, Inc. has made no judgment as to the qualifications, expertise or credentials of any participating professionals. Read our Terms & Conditions.|