This is the first of a series of posts consisting of important pieces of advice for persons living in the midst of divorce or custody litigation. When you are living, eating and breathing raw emotions that result from the reality of these situations, it is not always easy to step outside of the haze of it and realize what you are doing or not doing that may be hurting your position before the judge. I refer to these next few posts as the “ABC’s” of managing a healthy divorce or custody case. Some points may seem to come across as general common sense, but I’ve realized that strong emotional involvement in your case can, and a lot of times does, overtake the ability to use common sense on all occasions. This post and the next few posts are simply a reminder of things that you should already know.
The ABC’s of Divorce and Child Custody:
Always tell the truth, whether in court, to your attorney or to your child’s other parent. No further explanation is needed here. Lying, fibbing, stretching the truth or any version other than honesty does not lead to anything good … ever.
Be willing to let the past go and move forward for your child’s best interest. If you are divorcing or bringing a custody matter to the court’s attention, obviously you and your child’s other parent have experienced some, several or many disagreements between the two of you. Once the court determines custody and each of your individual responsibilities and obligations, you need to dig down deep inside and find your ability to wipe the slate clean and begin your “new normal” with your child’s other parent. According to Louisiana law, once a judgment has been rendered on an issue that is set before the court, you are no longer entitled to address those matters again in the courtroom; you can only address what happened after the previous judgment. What happened before the judgment is considered “res judicata” and the court does not find it to be relevant. You need to follow the lead of the law as it stands and move past the past in order to allow your children’s relationships to grow with his or her other parent in the future.
Calmly present your case to the hearing officer or judge. Getting worked up and allowing your emotions to control how you come across to the hearing officer or judge can be detrimental to your case. Of course, it is recognized you are facing a situation which may be foreign and scary to you and some emotion is expected, but you need to be able to pull yourself together for the sake of your legal position and be able to tell your story appropriately so that the facts speak loud and clear and not your feelings.
Next set of ABC’s coming soon!