Archive for the ‘A Path to Simplify Custody/Divorce Disputes – 5 Tips’ Category

A Path to Simplify Custody/Divorce Disputes – 5 Tips

Sunday, October 21st, 2018

The vast majority of parents simply cannot afford to fight a custody battle all the way through trial. More than one-half of custody battles cost each litigant in excess of one-hundred hours of attorney time, and when adding expenses such as investigative fees and court costs, it is rare that a custody battle will not lead to fees similar to that of a major surgery. As I say, there are no simple solutions to complex problems. However it is quite clear that having a clear basis for discussion with your child/children’s other parent can assist in formulating a workable path forward.

When a prospective client calls my office, the first thing we often hear is that no conversation regarding custody, visitation, support, insurance, etc. has occurred regarding the children. This presents what I would call a “non-starter”. If the caller has vast financial resources, perhaps it may make sense to shirk what seems to be the obvious starting point of talking about a resolution with little conflict; conversation.

More often than not, parents can prevent a whole lot of cost and lost sleep by having a conversation with the other parent that maintains a linear path to resolution. Funds are better spent on college or other educational opportunities that children often lack. How can this be accomplished? Here is a simple blueprint that will hopefully advance your cause and save you money and stress that accompanies child custody litigation. Hopefully my clients have done everything under the sun to avoid costly litigation, however some legal “scholars” may have convinced them the fight and not be their own best diplomat.

The blueprint to successful low-cost resolution is as follows:

Offer visitation that is respectful of the other parent’s work schedule. Often, the hang-up in custody/visitation matters is that one parent had an irregular and unpredictable work schedule. There are many ways to accommodate these issues and a little bit of creativity often goes a long way.

Unless your ex is violent or a danger to your child, consider agreeing to joint legal custody. It is only a token victory for the opposition and will help to avoid future conflict. Legal custody rarely has significant impact and is a valuable tool in negotiation. It feels like a moral victory to those who tout their parenting abilities and want involvement with their little ones.

Consider initially seeking alimony only if your marriage has been over 8 years and there is significant disparity between your income and that of your spouse. Also, keep in mind that earning capacity is considered as much as actual earning history. If you are highly educated and do not have stay at home kids, the odds of receiving alimony are slender anyway.

Don’t worry about keeping the house, an equity payout is just as valuable. If you are unable to afford the mortgage payment, you are likely fighting a losing battle anyway.

Don’t seek attorney fees unless there is a true need. The old saying “don’t put good money before bad money” applies here. You will often spend more battling for fees than it is worth. Also, it is rare to see awards of more than 3-4 thousand dollars unless the payer makes more than six figures annually.

In short, people waste an awful lot of money to “win” a divorce or custody case because they are determined to be right. I respectfully suggest that more often than not, the price of moral vindication is too high to make sense. If a legal decision saves dollars, it also makes cents (get it?….my attempt at humor usually is not that funny). If you need help navigating a divorce or custody matter I will gladly put you on the best path to peaceful, inexpensive resolution.

Matthew Poole is a Jackson, MS domestic attorney who specializes in family law conflict resolution. He was selected Top 10 Family Lawyer in the state in 2018 by the National Association of Family Attorneys. He is a 2001 Millsaps Second Century Merit Scholar and Finalist of the Steen, Reynolds, and Dalehite Trial Competition. He was admitted to the Bar in 2004.