Level The Playing Field
The court may appoint its own team of advisers and experts to assist in reaching a decision. Additionally, your spouse may have superior knowledge of topics such as finances, business, etc., or perhaps will retain a high-powered divorce team. You’ll therefore have to maximize your advantages to get the result you want. Hire the best professional help you can afford, so you too have access to quality advice. To do well in negotiation or litigation, you need good information.
Custody issues bring in a whole set of complicated variables that are not present in a childless divorce. In addition to an attorney who has successfully handled many custody cases, you may need a financial expert, a therapist and an independent custody adviser to assist you in working out all the issues related to your children and the divorce.
Many factors go into the court’s decision in determining who gets custody, and on what terms. An experienced team can help you address each element strategically, and devise a plan that has the greatest chance of success.
For example, the age and gender of the children are always taken into consideration. Some judges prefer leaving young children, under six years old, with the mother, or may feel that girls are better off with the mother and boys with the father. Income can also be a significant factor, since the judge may believe that children are better off with the parent who can best afford their care.
And these are just a few considerations. There’s a wide range of other critical factors that can come into play, which are situation specific. Courts have a lot of discretion. If you end up in front of a judge with predispositions like these, and have to counter his or her inclination to rule in a particular way, you’ll need an attorney and expert witnesses who can make powerful arguments on your behalf.
You should also be aware of what court-appointed experts will be looking for. Here’s the short list. First, a parent who wants his or her spouse to be a part of the children’s lives. Second, someone who is nurturing, competent and composed, and wants what is best for the kids. And third, interaction which seems genuine, and not contrived by a parent’s coaching of the children to respond in a particular way during interviews.
Your own professional advisers can assist you in preparing for these interviews, and in counteracting any recommendations by court-appointed experts that undermine your position. You need to give the court a basis for a decision in your favor. To do that, you must have knowledgeable, competent counsel.