Schoolteacher Mother of Two Children Successfully Retains Physical Custody in Fight with Contractor Father
A working mother of two children, both below age five, retained us to fight for her custody of both children in a custody and support proceeding with the children's father. Our client was a schoolteacher with good access to a safe and secure child-care program for both children. The father was a self-employed contractor whose flexible hours and seasonal unemployment enabled him to claim the ability to be a better physical custodian for the children. Our client had kicked the father out of her home, where the children resided, after discovering the father's secret romantic relationship with another woman. Our client maintained that the father had no interest in caring for the children and would be a poor, although fit caretaker, but that he was seeking to avoid paying child support while gaining child support payments from our client. Our client's objectives were to retain physical custody while making the father pay appropriate child support. We assembled documentation of our client's medical and home care for the children, including identifying multiple family and friend witnesses. At a prehearing conference with the judge before the hearing to determine custody, our presentation and arguments convinced the father to forgo the hearing and agree to our client's sole physical custody. The parties shared legal custody, and the father paid support according to the formula. Identifying and preparing witnesses, whose identities we disclosed at the conference, was the key to our effective presentation.
Mother Gains Sole Physical Custody and Supervised Parenting Time for Father in Custody Battle
The mother of two children, a boy aged seven and a girl aged five, retained us to preserve her sole physical custody and ensure that the children's father had only supervised parenting time. The mother and father had never married nor lived together. The mother had a home bookkeeping business, enabling her to remain at home for the care and custody of both children. The father had stayed in the mother's residence off and on but had his own residence. The father had paid some child support voluntarily but only intermittently and only in smaller amounts than his full-time employment as a tradesman warranted. The mother retained us to pursue a paternity and support action to increase the amount and frequency of support while retaining sole physical custody of the children in the mother's home, but especially to ensure that the father had only supervised visitation or parenting time because the father had exhibited abusive tendencies when visiting the children in the mother's home. We helped the mother identify witnesses to the father's mercurial behavior and anger issues when drinking and witnesses to the mother's stable care of both children. At the hearing, the judge ruled in our client's favor on the custody, support, and supervision issues. The judge acknowledged that the supervision issue would need court review in six months. The judge further ordered only limited supervised parenting time at a center established for that purpose. The key to our client achieving all her objectives was our careful preparation of the case for hearing.
Mother Preserves Sole Physical Custody of Teenage Daughter
The mother of a thirteen-year-old girl retained us to preserve her sole physical custody of the girl. The mother had sole physical custody of the girl from the time of the parent's separation and divorce several years earlier. But the father had recently moved for a change in the girl's custody, allegedly based on the girl's preference to live with her father. Our client, the mother, maintained that the girl may have expressed that preference from time to time but only because of the reasonable discipline the mother imposed for the girl's own good. Our client further maintained that the father would have let the girl do anything without protecting her or holding her to account, which is why the girl sometimes expressed a preference for a change in custody, but it would be bad for the girl's development, health, and safety. The father remained unrepresented in his request for a change in custody. We prepared the mother to testify to the above effect. We also presented the testimony of a school counselor, family member, and friend, each of whom corroborated the mother's account and concerns. The judge ruled in our client's favor denying the father's request. The key to our success was listening carefully to our client's insights and concerns while preparing her and others to testify, bolstering those insights and concerns.