Managing Your Case
Over the years we've always stressed that will you need to document, document, document. I can't tell you how important it is for the management of your case credit, it is critical. Too many cases become too confusing and lost because parents do not pay attention and do not do the research to make sure that their attorneys are telling them the truth.
To help you understand this it's time to put this in a written form so that you can apply this to your case.
1. As we tell you to document, it means that you should either in a journal or a separate file print off any text that you get from your soon-to-be ex, write down any event, even if you think it's insignificant, because down the road it may become significant. I don't care if it's the first time your child went to the bathroom on their own, write it down. It may be some off-the-cuff comment made by a friend or family member, write it down. These little things will add up and may at some point help you win your case. Make sure that you add a date to everything as this will help in the future.
2. Keep your Facebook wall clean. Post no disparaging words about your soon to be ex, your ex, baby mama, or the courts on your Facebook wall. Facebook is an open game for use against you in court and the request that people turn over their passwords is getting more prevalent. The same holds in with what you post in an open group or on a page you like. With the open groups and pages that post your complaints on them, that information will come back to bite you in court. How quickly the story of what happened to the guy in Cincinnati faded from everyone’s brain. Post only positive things and keep your private thoughts to yourself. Remember the World War II phrase – Loose lips sink ships when posting.
3. Lockdown your friends' list!!!! Information can get spread around by friends unknowingly. You can be stalked through a friend without knowing it. Make sure that the only people that can see your friends list is yourself. On your page, if you scroll to your friends' list there is an edit setting option. Set this to Only Me.
4. Do not post information about your case on group or organization Facebook Fan pages. While Facebook groups are or can be private places to seek advice, the Fan Pages are open territory and are often trolled for information about cases. Do not message these pages and ask to post Anonymously as you can still be easily identified.
5. Get organized! The timeline of the case and what was filed is significant and always will be. Having everything in order and keeping it in order from the beginning to the end of the case will help you to keep your thoughts clear and help you find things when you need to. What I suggest in organizing your court files is that you print a copy of your court docket and that you number every entry starting with the first one. Then make a copy of the motion or whatever the filing was in court and attach a tab and number it so that it corresponds with the same filing on your court docket. That will help you to keep the proper timeline with those filings. Being able to grab those quickly in court can make or break a case. Do the same with any evidence that you may plan on using.
6. Don't always believe what your attorney tells you, look at up for yourself. That means that you should go read the actual state law on how they determine custody. If you know the legal requirements you will be much better prepared as you move forward.
7. Know both your local and state rules of procedure. There could be little things that happen and knowing both of them may help you catch the opposition in their attempts to circumvent the rules. Over the years I have been able to use the rules to advantage and if you know them as well as the opposition does you can too.
8. Read case law!! You don’t need to be an attorney to read case law or look it up. I read case law every day and I get it sent to me automatically through searches I have in Google Scholar. Google Scholar will allow you to search both your state’s decisions and federal decisions. You can set up automatic notices of new decisions that are released by using keywords. You will not get trail level decisions but you will get decisions that are more useful in that they come from the Court of Appeals or your Supreme Court.
9. Manage your attorney! Always remember to make it clear from the very beginning what you expect your attorney to do. Do not allow the attorney to slack off from doing their job by simply saying "that is the way it is done". If your attorney does not want to represent you and fight for you then he is not working for you and you will not get the result that you expect, you will get the short end of the stick. If you want to know how to manage your attorney, we do have a newsletter on that.
10. If your attorney tells you that discovery is not important, they are 100% wrong. Discovery is a key to success and will assure that you do not get blindsided by something if your case goes to trial. It will also give you a look at what the opposition intends to introduce against you and who they intend to call as a witness. Having that information in your hands before the trial will allow you to be well prepared.
11. Child support always comes up as an issue for many. Always make sure that the correct information is presented and that income is not hidden. If you become unemployed, immediately file for a reduction due to loss of income. Generally, a 30% increase or decrease is required before a change in child support will be considered. Many state or county child support agencies will consider a change in the amount of child support and this is due for free. Do not wait before the arrears will continue to build and you will soon have yourself in a hole that will take years to dig out of.
12. If for some reason you get yourself criminally charged because of some allegation of something that you did not do, do not take a plea and admit to something that you didn't do! Taking a plea is an admission that you did commit whatever criminal activity you were charged with. That criminal plea will come back to bite you in the rear in the custody case. Get the criminal charges cleared as soon as possible so that you can move forward with a clean slate in the custody case.
13. If for some reason CPS becomes involved in your case, this has become all too common, get those allegations handled as soon as possible. If you don't those allegations will come up to bite you in your custody case. Experience has shown that allegations that come this way, even if they are false, have cost many their chance at equal custody in a divorce or never married parent case.
14. Stay on top of what is going on! I can't stress this enough and this goes to the documentation that we tell everyone to do. Failing to keep up on your logs or keeping your motions and filings organized and then having to scramble will hurt you and cause you undue stress.
15. A major word of caution. I keep seeing guys popping into fathers’ groups and on Facebook that are claiming to sell you their guaranteed methods of winning your case. Generic templates have never worked and never will work. We have seen numerous people that we have helped through the years that have fallen for this sales scheme and after they pay their money find out that the motion templates are worthless. Each case is unique and the filings and motion from someone else’s case will not work for you. All these people want is your money and as soon as they have it they will disappear. Also, use caution in taking advice from someone that starts with the line “In my case……..” What happened in that person’s case does not have any bearing on your case, especially if they are not in your state or your county.
16. Know proper jurisdiction! Stay with case law from your state, not another, some courts will even ignore appeals court cases that are out of their district. Federal case law does apply to every case but state case law is often more on point with what previous decisions have been from your state and the general mindset of the courts of your state.
17. Stay away from those that tell you to apply wild theories in your case. Wild and unproven theories never work and have often cost many the children in the end. If someone tries to tell you that applying an inappropriate statute to your case, ask them to provide you with proof that these legal theories have worked. They are only theories and are destined to get you in trouble down the road. Patriot Law (the thought that the Constitution is the only law) and the Constitutional argument that you have an equal right under the 14th Amendment is false has failed too many parents. You do not have a Constitutional right to be a parent, you have a fundamental right. Know the difference and know the right case to support that position.
Custody cases are extremely confusing but if you stay with it and stay organized you can help yourself to take the confusion out of it. Common sense goes a long way and getting the result that you want.
Staying organized and knowing the right information goes a long way in winning a case.