How to Win a Custody Battle

How to Win a Custody Battle by Joshua Katz

{2:35 minutes to read} Winning a custody battle is all about your lawyer’s presentation to the judge.

Recently, I was talking to a wise judge who explained that deciding on a custody case is almost always an easy task. When there is one good parent and one bad parent, the decision is simple. When both parents are good parents, you cannot make a wrong decision; whatever the decision is, the children will be fine.

He continued to explain that the only time a custody decision becomes difficult is when you have two awful parents, which is a rare situation.

In most of the custody cases that I have been involved with, both parents were decent parents. That is when I realized, that winning a custody battle is often determined by the lawyer’s presentation to the judge.

How can a lawyer make his client look like the better parent?

There is always a delicate balance between presenting evidence to indicate your client is a good parent versus presenting evidence to indicate that the other parent is not.

A major factor that courts rely upon is the ability of each parent to foster a positive relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent. As a result, disparaging the other parent is not a good move.

The problem is how to present a case to a court, explaining that the father is a horrible father, but my client is the better parent because she would never say that about him.

Judges do not like “noise.”

A large part of learning how to present a client to the court is learning how to filter out the noise. Judges do not like to hear noise —  by that, I am referring to the whole laundry list of petty complaints that really do not amount to anything.

For example: If the children’s mother is six minutes late bringing them back from their weekend visit, it may be annoying, but it does not make her a bad parent. If the children’s father has a second glass of wine with dinner, it is really not a big deal.

But, if a parent had five glasses of wine, put the children in the car and attempted to drive them home, that is a much bigger deal, but you have to be careful to make allegations only when they can be backed up with evidence. Otherwise, you are making noise and not winning your custody case.

As a litigator in child custody cases, my job is to filter out the noise and present my client to the judge in a positive way. I focus on my client’s positive parenting, mention the other parent’s negatives only if there is evidence, and filter out the noise.

If you were in a custody battle, how would you be presented to the judge?


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