Archive for the ‘Minimums and Maximums in a Child Custody Case’ Category

Minimums and Maximums in a Child Custody Case

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

First of all, our office would like to wish you and your loved ones a happy New Year, and we hope your holiday season was a time of relaxation and fellowship with those you care about. The beginning of the year is naturally a busy time for our office, as we receive many calls from both existing and prospective clients reenergized from vacation to pursue their domestic case. When going through a child custody case, there is obviously a minimal and a maximum effort you can put forth. Our office feels that clients should know what these two efforts look like in order to know that their case is being handled with the correct level of diligence.

As you can probably guess, the minimum effort required in a child custody case is filing a petition for custody and a motion for temporary relief. Filing the complaint starts the process, and a temporary hearing is where the judge awards or denies relief and sets forth an order for the parties to abide by until that temporary order is replaced by a more permanent one after the case has been fully heard. Sometimes, this is all effort required, as the parties may find it easy to obey that court order and see no reason to go back to court. However, this is the exception and not the rule. Putting forth full effort in a child custody case requires diving into the discovery process with both feet forward. This starts with the issuance of interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and the noticing of depositions.

Interrogatories are questions about the subject matter of the case that the other side has 30 days to answer in writing. These questions often relate to witnesses, employment of the responder, and explanation of claims found in pleadings. Interrogatories lay the groundwork for a child custody case, and so issuing them is a step in the right direction of pursuing a custody case. Listing witnesses is especially important, because if you do not list a potential witness, that person cannot testify at trial.

Discovery also includes requests for production of documents. The documents sought in this phase of discovery will provide the bulk of the evidence used at trial. These requests often asked for are financial documents such as bank and credit card statements, utility bills to show expenses, and tax returns. Many clients often express reluctance in producing these documents, however an important part of a child custody case is showing that you are able to financially provide for that child. Like witnesses, requesting and disclosing proper documents is very important, because you will waive your right to use them at trial if you do not.

Another helpful discovery option available to you is the well-known tool of a deposition, which is a scheduled interview with the other side in the presence of a court reporter. The advantage of conducting a deposition is twofold. First, it helps your attorney gauge the other side’s reaction to a question in real time, as the other side has no time to prepare an answer as in written discovery. Second, it helps to nail the other side down to a narrative of their case. That story must either be adhered to or later contradicted, which can call into question that person’s credibility.

As with many things in life, in a child custody case you can either put forth the minimum effort required or go beyond that. It may be that filing a petition and a temporary order works out for you and gets you the relief you seek. However, life is messy, and cases as volatile as child custody will most likely require more effort. Engaging in discovery and applying pressure to the other side to match your effort is the best way to come out ahead in a child custody case. If you have questions about what should be done in your child custody case, call the Law Office of Matthew Poole. Our office has the knowledge and experience to give you a complete and honest answer to any domestic law question you may have.