Birmingham Divorce Attorney: 4 Tips For Trial Day

Tips for Trial

Divorce in the Magic City isn’t necessarily magical. Give us a call for an initial consult at 205-582-2832.

You’ve been waiting for this day for months, maybe years. You are going to trial. You show up with your posse. Everyone is ready to go! You’ve had your coffee and you’re wearing your smarty pants – you are READY TO GO. You have read through your notes. You’ve been up since 4am. It is time to start the show. Your attorney has explained that the docket is rather long, and that you may not get to go that day. You figure that you’ve waited long enough so you take that with a grain of salt (and maybe a tequila shot – please don’t). You go in for the docket call and realize you’re pretty low on the food chain. Some of the cases here have been waiting for three years! So, what now?

Follow these Tips for Trial:

1. Bring a book, a few magazines, or something to occupy yourself.

Here’s the thing: divorce, court, the entire process is rather slow. You think that once you get to trial (or just simply, court) that things will speed up? Not going to happen. The judges’ dockets are so full they usually make the lawyers go talk. That means that we will have to go talk to the other lawyer, who has to talk to their client. Then that lawyer comes back with an offer. We have to take that offer to you, and then come back to them. It’s a lot of volleying back and forth. Sometimes both lawyers have multiple cases so this process is happening over and over again. Your lawyer has been pounding the marble (would say pavement but not in courthouses) trying to keep up with the other attorney. Sometimes the Judge will call us and make us explain to them why we’re having issues settling. There is a lot going on behind the scenes. This is very upsetting to some clients as all they want to do is “see the judge”, but it is how things are done. Judges don’t want a five day trial of “he said- she said” if it can be avoided.

2. Leave most of the friends at home.

Friends love you and they want to be supportive, but there are only so many times that they can take off work to help you talk ___ about your ex. If you need emotional support from your friends or family members, pick a couple and leave the rest. A lot of times those helpful emotionally supportive friends can insert their opinions when they aren’t needed. Sometimes they can conflict what your lawyer is trying to help you do because they’re angry. They merely want the other person to suffer, and they don’t know the law. Sometimes they will beg the two of you to reconcile. Also, on days when there’s a lot going on behind the scenes, they may start blessing you with their own worries. Choose the team wisely, and make sure they’re supportive and minimum drama.

3. Bring a jacket & a snack.

It’s pretty cold in the conference rooms. Negotiating can last hours. Your nervous jitters may give way to hangry times. Make sure that you have the necessities. When it comes to our tips for trial – this one takes the cake. Seriously.

Tips for Trial

Bring a Snack: One of our 4 Trial Tips in this blog… you’ll need it.

4. Don’t sign a settlement just because you want to leave.

I feel like settlement negotiations can imitate police interrogations. You are cold, hungry (unless you followed our advice), and ready to get this DONE. You are presented with a few offers, and you’re not happy. Then you start to realize that you’ve wasted your entire day. You feel like maybe you should simply sign and walk away. You’ll forego some of what you want BUT YOU ARE FREE TO GO EAT AND WARM UP AND RELAX… Just think before you agree. There are no “takes-backsies” after you sign. You probably should think it through and contemplate how you’ll feel the next day. Don’t let the uncomfortable nature of negotiation and court looming in the background to cause you years of unhappiness.

Birmingham Divorce and Family Law Attorneys: 3 Tips Before You Divorce

Some call it hoarding, others call it preparing evidence.

Some call it hoarding, others call it preparing evidence.

You’re ready to leave. You’ve tried counseling, tuning each other out completely, spending hours and hours talking to each other, secretly putting gross things in each other’s food, couples’ massages, yoga, blaming yourselves, blaming each other, blaming your children, blaming your in-laws, blaming video games, blaming the election, blaming TV, blaming Obama (#thanksobama – that’s a joke…), and pretty much everything short of criminal behavior. It’s time to call it quits, and things are so bad now that you know it’s going to be ugly. You have to act fast, quick, and with the stealth of a ninja. Here are a few before tips before you leap into the shadows of this horrifying yet liberating (seriously, you’re freeing yourself of pain) adventure:

  1. Think like a hoarder. Tis the time to start hoarding evidence if you know this is going to get ugly. Nothing is more irritating that a client who says, “I swear all of this is true! I don’t have proof because I left all of it at the house and she destroyed it, but believe me. She seriously is crazy. She has made voodoo dolls of my entire family. She even has photos above their little villages of my family members.” You knew when you left that the information was important. Otherwise you wouldn’t have committed it to memory. Simply put: Gather everything! Bills, records, evidence, etc. Even if you don’t think you’ll need it, hoard it.
  2. Go see a Lawyer. You need advice tailored to your situation. Scouring the internet for information will only do so much. You need someone who will listen to your life story, give you advice on how to move forward that will benefit YOU and YOUR case, and sometimes you need someone to check yourself before you wreck yourself.
  3. Speaking of seeing a lawyer, you might want to consider saving up some money. Good representation isn’t free. Do you go to the doctor and demand that they waive the co-pay? No, you pay the co-pay for them to tell you what surgery or medicine (that you also have to pay for) will fix your problem. Think of a consultation like a co-pay. Yes, we charge a discounted hourly fee for you to come and talk to us about your case. Then we tell you what we think it’ll cost to fix your problem. Just like med school isn’t free, neither is law school. We charge for our advice because our job is to give advice and work toward fixing that problem using our minds. If you want to use our minds to your advantage, you’ll need the cash to pay for that knowledge. Spending loads of money on things like new shoes, vacations, new cars, isn’t necessarily the best idea when you’re about to have to drop a few grand on a legal mind.

Birmingham Custody Attorneys: 3 Tips For Negotiating Your Child’s First Trip To Disney During Your Custody Case

Can't Let It Go? Here's a few factors for negotiating in that case...

Can’t Let It Go? Here’s a few factors for negotiating in that case… Give us a call for a custody consultation at 205-582-2832!

A child’s first visit to Disney World is… well…magical. There are really no other words to describe the experience. As an adult, I find Disney to be amazing. I will often look past the scorching heat, ridiculous crowds, germs, and (minimal) threat of Zika, to bask in the sparkly dreamlike reality that is Disney World. This being said, and not really sure if it’s because of my reputation for being a Disney freak, but we have seen a new growing trend in custody cases – Who gets to take the minor child(ren) to Disney for their first trip? Some parents simply cannot let it go…Here’s a few things to consider when negotiating this:

  1. The Age of Your child. Just because you want to be the first one to take Belle to meet Gaston in her yellow gown that you ordered from Etsy right after the divorce papers were filed, does not mean that you should take a three month old to Disney just so you can get first dibs on the monumental occasion. There are more and more people who rush this first trip simply to one up the other parent. Their child can’t get on any of the rides. They’re subjected to the humiliating height measuring apparatus in front of all of the other children only to be told that they cannot partake in all of the really fun and enjoyable rides. They end up crying while listening to the torture that is the Tikki Room while you’re happy simply because you got the “first trip to Disney.” In this situation, was it really worth it? Perhaps you two should negotiate an agreement as to when is the appropriate time and age of your child’s first trip.
  2. The reality of taking Your Child while still being able to afford your financial obligations. Disney is expensive. If you don’t know this, you’ve obviously never been to the best place on Earth. There are plenty of free things you can do to save money, but the kids want none of that. Having the full experience requires moolah. If you’re not meeting your obligations in your Divorce Decree, or previous Order, like paying child support, alimony, or attorney’s fees, but you’re forking out the dough to grace the magical main street of Disney World, you might just be petty. You should always meet your obligations before trying to be the parent to race to Disney first.
  3. Your Child. So, you may not have noticed, but there’s been a tiny theme throughout this blog. That theme is the following: You should always put your child first in any and all contested cases. Stop and think, am I doing this because I think it’s what is best for my child, or because I want some sort of revenge? Is it really best to race off to Disney to get back at your ex? Is it a good idea to mention your negotiations to your child (Oh, I’d love to take you to Disney next year, but daddy is their newest villain, Dr. Dream Destroyer)? Is your child a pawn in a game you’re playing? Our firm is very child oriented, and we often feel like parents will lose the focus on their child when they’re angry at their ex. It’s easy to do when your child is so small and your ex’s ego is so big… but don’t forget that they’re always watching, listening, and feeling what you’re putting out there. Don’t let the happiest place on Earth turn into a tumultuous memory. (I used to love Disney until I got the plague when mom took me as a two-year-old to keep Dad from being the first one to take me.) (I hate Disney because we lost our house since Dad decided to spend three months of mortgage payments on a weeklong vacation just to spite my mother. Now, me, my six siblings, and Mom are living in what Mom calls a tiny house, but it’s actually an RV that is broken down in a trailer park.)

Overall- Your child’s first Disney trip could be something very important to you. Remember to cover this while you’re negotiating, and make sure you resolve it without involving your child in the battle.

Birmingham Divorce Attorneys: 3 Clues That It’s Time You Should Stand Up For Yourself

There's a thin line between being petty and standing up for yourself. Here's a few tips on when it's time to stop being a doormat... but always be aware of the petty territory.

There’s a thin line between being petty and standing up for yourself. Here’s a few tips on when it’s time to stop being a doormat… but always be aware of the petty territory.

Attorneys spend the majority of their days cleaning up their client’s emotional decisions. A lot of time is spent telling their clients to stop posting memes that compare their ex to Hitler, Hades, or Cruella De Vil; stop sending text messages that battle those of 12 year olds’ adolescent petulance; stop hiding clothes or personal items when your ex comes over to pick up their belongings; stop talking in hashtags as a way of being bicker-y #worstmotheroftheyear #divorcedandpushing40 #singleandwrinkled #noalimony #hollerwewantprenupwewantprenup #worsthusbandever #baldsingleman #midwifecrisis; stop binge drinking and drunk calling your ex; or chill and stop fighting over the lazy boy when you never sat in it. These times can be frustrating and we often feel like an emotional janitor mopping up the mess that our clients have started when we couldn’t stop them ahead of time. However, there are also times, which are few and far between, in which our clients do the opposite. They refuse to do anything. They refuse to act, respond, or even blink without making sure that it’s not going to be frowned upon. These are the times when it might be a good idea to start buckin’ up. Here are a few of those times:

  1. When your lawyer fees become astronomical. If you’re contacting your lawyer more often than your mother, therapist, or children – it might be time for you to use your backbone a little bit. Perhaps you should stop and think about what your lawyer has already told you on the matter and think of how that advice could possibly apply to the current situation at hand. If your lawyer has already told you to stop letting your spouse walk all over, talk over, and run over you… it’s time you take that advice. You’ll go into deep debt if you rely on your lawyer to always be the one looking out for you. Of course, there is a fine line between standing up for yourself and being petty. Find it. Therapists are a great source of help for this!
  2. Your children are in the midst of constant drama and the abyss of “I don’t know how to handle this.” Children need structure. They need stability. You cannot give them a shaky foundation while you await your lawyer’s response. If you have the legal authority to make decisions, and you are a decent parent, make them. It’s one thing to shut out your spouse and alienate them. It’s another to make daily decisions on your own. If your spouse is causing a shaky foundation, buck up and talk with them about it. Be your children’s advocate. Be your own advocate. If you can’t handle the situation – call your lawyer.
  3. Your spouse tells you more of “how this is going to go” than your lawyer. I wish I were Miss Cleo. Seriously. I wish I had the psychic powers to predict how your judge is going to rule on every matter each and every time. Alas, I’m not. I’m just a lawyer using my own knowledge of the Judge and the law attempting to predict how a case should go. It doesn’t mean that it will go that way. If your spouse claims the opposite without being an attorney in the field or knowing the Judge or the law, stop listening. Ferme la bouche. Let’s try some role playing:

Ex: Judge never awards alimony so you better take this offer.

Response: You have no idea what the Judge will do. I’ll agree to an offer I find to be fair.

Ex: You’ll never get child support because I know that the Judge knows my lawyer. They play squash together.

Response: Judges are bound by ethics. The legal community is small. They all know and like each other most of the time. If this becomes an issue, I’ll have my lawyer address it.

Ex: Men don’t get custody. You should just accept that and move on.

Response:  My children are important to me. I will fight to get what is fair.

Ex: Your lawyer is dragging this out. All your lawyer wants to do is make you bankrupt. If you would just agree to this, it’d save us a lot of money.

Response: I know my lawyer better than you do. I trust her to look out for me. That is why I hired her. If I felt like I could represent myself, I wouldn’t have made that decision.

Birmingham Custody Attorneys: 5 Ways Judgmental Judy Is Judging You In Your Custody Case

Need custody advice? Give Magic City Law a call at 205-583-2832!

Need custody advice? Give Magic City Law a call at 205-583-2832!

Judgmental Judy’s are everywhere. When you are going through litigation they have the power to use their judgmental ways against you. Not only is your ex being unusually judgmental, but his/her lawyer, your lawyer, the Judge, possibly a Guardian Ad Litem, mutual friends, witnesses, and anyone else who comes into contact with your case. You thought that you had it bad when you became a parent and everyone wanted to tell you how to raise your child – Breast is best! Don’t spank! Your car seat technique is BAD! Vaccinations are for amateurs!

Imagine getting through that and then going through a divorce.  Here are a few things that a Judgmental Judy might be using as ammunition to judge you:

  1. Co-sleeping. Hey, we get it. You’re close with your child. You both feel better when you’re in the security of each other’s company. However, co-sleeping is one of the first things that a Judgmental Judy will call you out for, especially if you and your kid(s) are the opposite sex. We understand that this is something that can easily be turned around on you. You could try making a safe sleeping zone on the floor near your bed for your little one. Likewise, perhaps you want to make a no man’s land by your child’s bed. The thing is, no matter how sweet co-sleeping is and how great it is for your bonding experience, your ex can easily turn something so sweet into something somewhat creepy, particularly if they never viewed co-sleeping in the same way.
  2. Bath time. Anything dealing with nakedness is a Judgmental Judy time bomb. WWOCS? (What would opposing counsel say) It’s one thing to make sure all conditioner is out and the suds are off. It’s another to be by your child the entire time they’re in their bath. (Please note that this does not apply to babies. Babies should not be left to fend for themselves in the bath. Supervision is the key on this one. I’m sure even Michael Phelps needed supervision as a baby in the tub.) This is another one of those things that changes with age. Consider age & gender.
  3. Twitter. Instagram. Snap Chat. Etc. Social media is not your friend. It’s a frenemy. It’s like that chick in college that you would tell your darkest secrets to, and then she’d tell everyone else the minute she has one red solo cup of beer. She wouldn’t be sorry. She would bask in the glow of your demise. We’ve said this before. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Don’t post it. Don’t let your friends post it. It doesn’t matter if you say something passive aggressive that doesn’t directly say that your ex-spouse and/or her/his attorney is a complete piece… someone else might finish your thought. Then they’re issued a sweet invitation to your divorce trial. #deleteyouraccount.
  4. Gossip. Say Goodbye to that part of you. Really -> XoXo Gossip Girl. Anything you say – can be used against you. I repeat, anything you say – can be used against you. I repeat, anything you say – can be used against you. Seriously, gossiping about your case can, and likely will, be used against you. Your best go-to for advice is your attorney. If you’re going to pay someone an hourly fee for advice, perhaps your bestie (who doesn’t happen to be an attorney) with the free advice isn’t the best person to contact. Also, although this should be OBVI, gossiping to your child or in front of them gives a Judgmental Judy every right to judge you. In fact, it turns me into one. I’m judging you. Stop. Your child is not your confidant, and the person you’re gossiping about is half of them. Just stop.
  5. Drinking. Posting a photo of 15 cans of beer in your child’s crib while you’re cheers-ing the camera – obviously not the best idea. Here’s your motto – think before you drink. Could that picture of a bottle of wine with your child in the background become an issue? Could those bottles of beer in the trash be used against you? When your child refers to wine as mommy’s sippy cup – would that be used against you? Sometimes something as innocuous as a picture of a margarita could haunt you worse than that terrifying woman in The Ring.

You’ve filed for Divorce. Now what?

You’ve entered into the dark abyss of “going through a divorce.” You filed your complaint and you are ready to get this show on the road. You’ve done all the research – meaning that you’ve watched all of Drop Dead Diva, Suits, The Good Wife, How to Get Tick_Tock-Fianl-Away With Murder, and Law & Order which you’ve backed up with some googling and a bit of youtubing. You know exactly how this going to go, until you realize that you don’t.  You’ve filed the complaint & had your spouse served, they answer and file a counterclaim. Now what? Well, it all depends on what your individual circumstances require! Here’s a bit of a timeline to help everyone understand:

  • You need immediate action in regards to custody and/or monetary support. Maybe your Wife has been stealing your child’s ADHD medication, and she took little Timmy and ran away. Last you heard she was a collarbone-protruding-size-00 living in a park tiny house (which is really just a cardboard box with some marker drawn shrubbery) with Timmy and their new friend Gutter Gus. You probably need immediate action from the Court to obtain custody of Timmy. Maybe your Husband found out that you know about his affair with your daughter’s ballet teacher, and he’s decided that he was going to drain all of your joint accounts to buy her new dancefloors and ballet barres for each of her eight studios. You probably need immediate action to stop him from putting you both into a large amount of debt. What do you do? You file for Pendente Lite This is a Motion asking for a Hearing with the Court to temporarily settle some issues during the pendency of the case. After a Motion is filed, you wait for a Hearing date. This is not always immediate, but sometimes it is. You’re at the mercy of the Court’s calendar. May the odds be ever in your favor.
  • You negotiate. You two are okay living apart. The bills are getting paid. The two of you are able to schedule time with the children. The overall split appears to be going as well as could be. At this point in time, you merely need lawyers to help you two negotiate and work out a fair agreement because you aren’t sure what is fair. You aren’t sure what the paperwork needs to say. You don’t do this for a living, so you need someone who does. During this time, this could take months or years if you can’t come to an agreement. If the two of you aren’t in constant fights and arguments, the negotiation will continue until you are able to come to an agreement. If you can’t come to one, it might be best to seek the Court’s help. That’s why you wait until a Settlement Conference is set up or Mediation. The thing is, if you aren’t asking for the Court’s immediate help, you’re merely outside of the Court’s eye. It’s like children playing in the sandbox having a ninja turtle dispute quietly while there are other children pulling each other’s hair and throwing transformers at each other in plain view of their parents. This could take a long time because you cannot force someone into an agreement when they simply do not want to agree. This is why we utilize settlement conferences (informal- in our offices / formal- at the courthouse), mediation (a negotiation where there is a third party who facilitates the process), or simply letters & phone calls. Once again, remember: you cannot beat someone or starve someone into an agreement. If they will not agree, we cannot make them.   So if you can’t agree, you trek on …
  • You have to do Discovery. Discovery is a beast. It is expensive and its time consuming, but it is a necessary evil. One of the big issues people have when they are going through a divorce is that they don’t know their spouse’s every secret. They may have thought they knew each other. They may know how many times the other divorceperson toots when they sleep or what their favorite vegetable could be, but they don’t know how much is in their retirement, their five savings accounts, or their hidden social media accounts. This is why Discovery is important. Attorneys simply cannot advise you on a good settlement if the other party has a yacht hidden away. That’s why we look into the depths of their accounts and their souls. We’re protecting you and ourselves. Discovery helps rid you of surprises for the trial. It helps you find out what their “theme” of the case may be. Are they saying that you’re a controlling gold digger? Are they saying that you hated your oldest child? What are they trying to prove? You need to know so that you can address it.
  • You prepare for trial. If you cannot come to an agreement, it’s time to start putting together exhibits, testimony, and searching for who you want in your battle. You come prepared with bank statements, photos, recordings, etc. and you learn the do’s and don’ts of testifying before the Judge. We’ll go more into detail on this later, but trial isn’t fun. It’s a long drawn out day where you are interviewed on your most intimate details and invitations to divorceyour most tedious ones. Please state your name and your address. When did you get married? How long have you been married? Before you got married, where were you working? Your spouse? You spend hours talking about what went wrong and tearing each other apart. You sling mud back and forth and you attempt to show that you’re the wronged party. You issue subpoenas on people you want to testify. Does he have a girlfriend? Send her an invite to the divorce show. Does she leave your children with her new BFF, Casey Anthony, while she goes out drinking? Come on down, Casey. You’ve lost your control over the outcome, and it’s in the Judge’s hands now.
  • You prepare for the aftermath. You have submitted your life and your ex’s life to the Judge. Now you await. If you’re unhappy, you can ask them to reconsider. If you’re still unhappy, you can appeal it. Appeals are costly, but sometimes effective. If you are deciding to try a case, make sure that you save a little money for an appeal because nothing is predictable these days, and you never know what could happen.

Consultation: What’s Next?

You’ve finally made it into the office for your consultation. Things haven’t been good for a long time, but you never wanted to be here so you kept putting it off. You walk in to meet with the attorney, and after? You feel like a huge weight has been lifted. You know what it will cost to get this process started. You know a little about the process. You know what the future holds if you are ready to move forward. You get in the car and head home with a clearer picture of what lies ahead. Then you get home and you feel like you returned to where you started. You don’t know what to do next. You think you heard it. You think they told you what the next step is, but you’re not sure what to do. Here are a few paths that you can take:

  1. Work on your marriage (and/or situation). You know that there is something broken that needs to be fixed. You may not know what it will take to fix your situation, but you do know that there was something big enough to make you seek an attorney’s advice. It’s time to see if you can find a solution if you are still havingIs this the view you want for your child?doubts. You need to seek a counselor or therapist if you think you need outside help. There may be programs for drug issues that you could push on yourself or your spouse. Perhaps you simply need to stop checking out the twins’ soccer coach. Perhaps you need to tell your husband you know about his 6 + social media dating accounts. Whatever it is that makes you want to leave, if you want to stay more, then you need to find a solution.
  2. Seek Other Advice. Maybe when you left the consultation, the skies were murkier than before. Maybe you felt like you were not in good hands, and you needed a better game plan going forward. It might be best for you to find someone else to give you advice. Remember, it’s always best to start off on the right foot. There are a lot of attorneys out there who will spend your money and set you free. You need someone who’s in it for the long haul. Someone who will provide you with legal support and a clear (as can be) path going forward. You want to feel like your attorney is as invested in you as you are in them. If your attorney is texting other people while you’re in their office, run. If they are more interested in telling you what you want, than listening to what you want, run. If they are more interested in selling themselves to you as opposed to listening to your story – they’re just desperate for business. Make sure you research before you hire. Also – just because their retainer is cheap, doesn’t mean that you should get in on the bargain.
  3. Hire your attorney. As attorneys we make money off of providing advice and solutions to fix problems. We can give you advice on how to best protect yourself, and we provide solutions by finding ways to enforce what you are legally entitled to. If the other side is amenable to what you are entitled to, we don’t have to be in the courtroom to do it. We get paid to do these things by our clients. We have spent a very long time studying, practicing, and working in our field so that we can steer our clients in the right direction. When you
    Your family's law firm. 205-582-2832

    Helping Magic City Families Move Forward

    don’t hire us, but call us to get advice, we cannot make money. Our time is being spent for free when it could be spent on a client who paid a retainer.  Consider this situation. You tear your ACL. You go to your doctor, he runs the tests, you go back. He says that you tore your ACL and here are the options: surgery with him, surgery elsewhere, or living with a torn ACL. Do you then call the doctor on fifteen different occasions to find out how it was he was going to do the surgery again or how could you possibly live with the torn ACL? You ask about anti-inflammatories. You ask about the different surgery options nearly each day. Did you say I could use a cadaver? Yes, I can. Okay, so if I use a cadaver’s graft – would that be as effective as my own? Oh, I could use my own, should I do that? You think it would be stronger? But that might hurt? Hm. I’ll call you tomorrow. I was thinking, I talked with my friends, and they said they used a hamstring graft and it was just as effective as using the patellar tendon. What do you think about that? Oh, yeah you said that it’s not as strong. Do you still think that? I’ll call you tomorrow. Oh, my knee feels wobbly. Do you know why? It’s because I need surgery? But, I’m not sure. I might just need a few pain meds.  I could also just do this myself, right? I could use a gum packet and a few rubber bands for stability? Do you think that doctor is going to return your different phone calls for eternity? No. He already answered how to fix the issue. He told you how he would do this. He provided you with the information you needed to move forward. If you don’t, he’s not going to keep answering. He’ll have his assistant call, or he’ll tell you to call when you’re ready for surgery. Call us when you’re ready for surgery.

Your Divorce Lawyer’s Biggest Pet Peeves: How To Be The Best Client

Be the best client you can be! Give us a call: 205-582-2832

Be the best client you can be! Give us a call: 205-582-2832

There was a time, very recent, that lawyers were begging for clients. We all sat around waiting for the phone to ring hoping someone was arguing over dishes or the trash… well, basically anything to get them in our office. I suspect there probably was an attorney somewhere instigating people. However, these days the phones are ringing more often. The clients a bit more cumbersome, and lawyers everywhere are able to turn clients away without wondering how they were going to pay for the overhead that month. That being said, some of the unfavorables are no longer being represented. There are people out there that, despite their pocketbook, lawyers will not represent. Actually, despite their case, and the lawyer’s need to win, their case is sitting there. Why? Here are a few reasons and how you can be a client that the lawyer wants to represent:

1. Showing up late or not showing up for appointments.

Regardless of whether you just made a brand spanking new appointment with a lawyer’s office (how exciting!!!) or you have been a long term client… Showing up late is a no-no. Lawyers run on time. We spend our time billing and preparing for cases. In order for us to be profitable and stay in business, we have to manage our time. Most lawyers will plan everything down to the minute, so when you show up thirty minutes late – they’re probably already helping someone a bit more punctual. Also – it shows that you don’t value their time. That indicates a lack of respect.

INSTEAD: Leave early or on time and show up on time. If you’re running late – then give us a courtesy call! There’s this newfangled thing called a cell phone. Almost everyone has one… if not two. Use it and let us know what’s up. We promise we won’t sue you if you give us a good excuse for running late. The first time… (kidding…)

2. Calling back to back without leaving a message.
Do you want the most cost-efficient direct answer to your question? Want the biggest bang for your buck? Want to avoid the dreaded “oh, I’ll have to call you back on that one… I’m going to have to check in to what the other side says.” Then do not call your attorney’s office back to back without leaving a message. One, it makes you look a bit crazy. Two, it makes us dread calling you back because there’s no telling what’s lurking behind all of those back to back phone calls. For all we know you could have just snuck some rat poison in your husband’s coffee and are feeling killer’s remorse.

INSTEAD: Leave ONE detailed message and wait for us to return your call. “Hey… I know I’m supposed to be in court on Tuesday, but I just left for Canada with all 5 of my children. Tell my husband, Mr. Rogers, I’m not in the neighborhood anymore…”

3. Asking the same question over and over again.

We don’t mind questions. In fact, we kinda ask them for a living. Questions are what make an attorney’s world go ‘round. We love giving information and answering questions. Shoot! Sometimes, if I don’t know, I’ll make up something crazy just to see if you buy it (not the law but just something simple like “why is my ex’s attorney such a terrible person? Because she grew up in the circus and though she always wanted to be a trapeze artist, they made her clean up after the elephants. Really? No.”) That being said – we will often answer client’s questions in email, on the phone, in person, by carrier pigeon. Our office has a policy of following up with the answer to your question in writing whether it be by email or letter. With that sort of thorough behavior, it would be a shocker if a client said we didn’t answer their questions… and ask them again… but they do.

INSTEAD: Listen. Before asking a question AGAIN, look through your email. I bet you that question has been answered. If your policy is “TLDR” (too long didn’t read), I’d suggest that you don’t get involved in litigation.

4 Points On Standard Visitation Schedules

Looking to get more than a step visitation schedule? Afraid you won't get it because you're "not the mama"? Give us a call at 205-582-2832

Looking to get more than a step visitation schedule? Afraid you won’t get it because you’re “not the mama”? Give us a call at 205-582-2832

DISCLAIMER: We do not feel that we will take either side. Each case is evaluated on a case by case basis. We have simply seen that there are good fathers being disadvantaged due to the mere fact that they are the father and not the mother. This post is not intended to offend anyone in particular, but merely to give light to a way to fix a long standing issue.

Couple 1: Princess and Michael met in a bar one night. He had a hard day at work, and she was everything just right for that night. He was a little intoxicated. They ended up going home together where they inevitably made a baby. They continue to text each other from time to time. For months neither of them knows that Princess is pregnant. She continues to go out drinking, and takes different guys home. She works at a local strip club, and when times are tight, she sometimes gives the customers a little extra sum’n sum’n to get a bigger tip. They go on a few dates, but Princess has a different type of life than Michael who works an office job each and every day until 5. She has the baby, and has a new guy at this time, so she doesn’t tell Michael. When he eventually finds out via Instagram a year or so later (#wheresmychildsupport #wheresmaurywhenyouneedhim #19years19yearsandonthe19thbirthdayfoundoutitwasnthis) he immediately files for custody. He goes to court, and sits next to the other unwed couples awaiting to find out if this is his child. Turns out that Kleverleigh Un-Xpected does in fact belong to him. He, the working father, with no previous drug issues and nothing on his record, gets supervised visitation until the child is 3.

Couple 2: Claire and Robbie are childhood sweethearts. They get married in a small town on the outskirts of hunting territory and nowheresville. BAM, they’ve got six kids. She stays home, and he works to provide for the family. He’s always been involved with the kids. He comes home each night to take each of them to their various hobbies whether it be ninja ballet or laser tag football training camp. He bathes them, puts them to bed, and reads them their favorite stories. He goes to every single recital or game. Eventually the long hours to help feed all the little mouths begins to take a toll on the marriage. They decide to get a divorce. Robbie goes into the courtroom and realizes quickly that he’s getting supervised visits with two of his kids until they’re three and the rest? He gets them for every other weekend.

Couple 3: Claire and Robbie are childhood sweethearts. Instead of staying in that small town, they decide to move to a bigger city in the biggest county in the state. Again, Robbie’s always been involved with the kids. (Same facts as #2). They decide to get a divorce. Robbie gets joint custody.

Couple 4: Claire and Robbie are childhood sweethearts. He beats her/He does a lot of drugs/He partakes in child torture. He loses custody and gets supervised visitation. He blames the system and her for losing custody and having supervised visitation. He doesn’t understand why she won’t modify the agreement to give him more time with his kid. (This is the exception, and these are the ones that waste the mother’s money with modifications because they’ve gone to one or two counseling sessions or AA meetings and expect to get unsupervised visits with their children).

Obviously looking at the above situations, one could see why lawyers everywhere have to say to you that it depends on the judge, on the court, or on the situation for whether or not you will get custody. Your lawyer may be the type who doesn’t care to learn what each judge thinks regarding visitation and just encourages the ancient schedule to push settlement along, as well as your case. Sometimes you’re just on an assembly line with little thought being given to your case. The problem that we keep seeing at our firm is that there are good and loving fathers with no history of drug or alcohol abuse, nor any child abuse issues, who come into our office after they’ve signed an agreement that “grants” them the ancient step schedule where it gives the father a certain amount of time with the child depending on the child’s age such as (and they aren’t this “simple”):

ages 1-3: supervised visits for a few hours

Ages 3-5: one night every other weekend

Ages 5+: every other weekend

Here’s the short of it:

  1. A marriage makes a huge difference when it comes to custody, even in the best of counties. The difference between married parents and unmarried parents can make or break a custody case for the father of the child. It can put you into a different courthouse with a whole different set of rules. These rules normally point to the step visitation schedules mentioned above. If you are married, then you definitely need to know your rights before you sign them away. Further, you need to find out how your Judge feels about Fathers. If you are unmarried, please look to #4 then continue reading and read #4 again.
  2. Are these step visitation schedules based on age compliant with Alabama law? We would argue no. These types of visitation schedules that automatically increase without requiring proof of a material change in circumstances have been deemed to be improper in divorce cases where the parties agree to a modification based only on time without any material change in circumstances to justify the modification. These step visitation schedules, just like the cases allowing for a modification after a mere passage of time, have the same issue in that there would be no reason other than the child’s inevitable aging that would indicate that a change in visitation is justified. In Long v. Long, where unsupervised visitation was automatically changed to supervised visitation, the Court stated that the “evidence did not support modification of child custody after six months from supervised visitation to unsupervised visitation, as trial court did not impose any conditions or obligations on noncustodial parent to fulfill during six months, there was no evidence to indicate that there would be any change of circumstances or conditions to warrant modification after six months, and there was no basis to determine future events.” Long v. Long, 781 So. 2d 225 (Ala. Civ. App. 2000). So, does this mean that these step schedules have made it so that fathers have supervised visitation forever? Well, that just seems like a disaster, but maybe… In that case, are these schedules justified in making all visitation with the father supervised… FOREVER? Well, that seems like poppycock. It has been stated that restrictions such as this are deemed okay “only when necessary to protect the health, safety, or welfare of the child. A juvenile court exceeds its discretion, however, when it imposes an overbroad restriction on visitation that does more than is necessary to protect the child and thereby unduly infringes on the parent-child relationship.” Pratt v. Pratt, 56 So.3d 638, 641 (Ala.Civ.App.2010). B.O. v. Jefferson County Dept. of Human Resources, 70 So. 3d 1286, 1291 (Ala. Civ. App. 2011). So tell me why these fathers have to have supervised visitation with the children if their only discretion is that they are not the mother?!
  3. Are men less capable of taking care of their children? Yes, SOME men are. Just as some women are less capable of taking care of their children as well. There are tons of cases such as Couple # 4 in which the father OR THE MOTHER go to yet another rehab program/counseling session/child abuse program and they think they’re suddenly parent of the year. However, looking at just a man versus a woman with no other facts doesn’t really seem like a good way to determine custody. Isn’t deciding something based on genitalia and/or gender called something— wait, what is that word? Oh, yeah: sexual discrimination. Isn’t there also something in the Constitution of the United States that deals with this type of law making? Pretty sure there’s that whole Equal Protection Clause thing…
  4. Should men just take the abuse and settle out of court because they won’t change the law anyways? No! It’s time to take a stand. Fight for your children. Find a lawyer who knows the courts and the judges in your county. Pay attention when you’re on the assembly line of cases. Don’t just be a case in a line of cases that the lawyer is going to throw some settlement talk at you and make you settle so they get paid and they can move on to the next case. Also, don’t take her word for it. Unless she is your lawyer and is not your baby momma, then you should not believe what she has to say. Wouldn’t you tell her what you think would make her give up the fight and give you want you want? You wouldn’t? Well, that’s nice of you… but custody battles aren’t nice.

3 Things to Consider for Fathers in Custodial Agreements

If you're a good father who wants to be involved, don't listen to the "meme" girls. You don't have to settle for less! Fight for your right to be involved with your child's life! 205-582-2832.

If you’re a good father who wants to be involved, don’t listen to the “meme” girls. You don’t have to settle for less! Fight for your right to be involved with your child’s life! 205-582-2832.

Each and every day we get a new father coming into our office wondering why they signed an agreement giving them limited visitation. More often than not a father comes in stating that he agreed not to have the child overnight until the child was three. He agreed that he’d get every other weekend and some holidays. He agreed that the mother was the primary custodian and now she won’t let him make any decisions. The number one problem is that he agreed, even though secretly in his head he was screaming for more than what he was getting. He further tells us that he used to be very involved with his children, but now he’s missing most if not all of their school functions because his ex will not involve him. He finds out from his kids that his children who used to cheer for Auburn with him are now cheering for Georgia because mommy’s new boyfriend prefers it. He loses weekends because their mother decided that she was going to enroll them in competition laser tag. He later finds out that competition laser tag doesn’t really exist and his children are staying with his ex’s crazy mom while his ex is playing drunken laser tag with her Georgia fan boyfriend.  Don’t be a daddy dud. Make sure you do the following before you sign an agreement that is sexist:

  1. Stop limiting yourself to nights and weekends if you want more than that. You are not subject to the same time as free minutes from a cell phone company. You are a father. You made a child with another human being. Unless you’ve done something unsavory in the past, there is no reason why you should not be afforded the same rights as the mother of the child. Each case is different, but don’t let someone bully you into something you cannot live with if you want more time with your child. When the sun goes down, do you become a vampire, werewolf, or shapeshifter? If so, are you a true danger to your child? If so, then you shouldn’t have your child during the night. If not, you should be allowed to have your child in your home. Each case is different, but if you have both been equally involved in your children’s lives then you should both continue on that same path. If you haven’t, you do need to consider that.
  2. Do your own research. Just the other day we were in a seminar when another (much older) attorney asked “Well I always tell men to just sign the visitation schedule set out years ago. What am I supposed to do now to encourage settlement?” We have had several other attorneys say that they just tell their clients that as well because they don’t like to handle contested cases. In short, you need to research your attorney before you hire them. You need to research your own rights before you sign something you’re not happy about signing. You need to know what the trends are in your particular county. If you researched your attorney enough, they should be able to help you with the rest. As Delia says on Girlfriends Guide to Divorce: “You don’t want someone who wants to fight for compromise. You want someone who fights for YOU!”
  3. The McClendon Standard is a hefty burden to bear. You start out with a best interest standard when it comes to your children. After you have given up the primary parenting position, it is awfully hard to change it. A full explanation of this standard is here. The courts have come up with this hurdle which often discourages fathers from coming back and trying to get custody because you, as the father who agreed to this unfair agreement, have to prove that the change in custody outweighs the disruption of moving the child from his or her current custody arrangement. This can be very hard to do absent some obvious fault on the part of your ex.

 

Moral of the story is: Don’t sign an agreement giving you less than what you truly want without fully considering the consequences. You have to live with this agreement, not your lawyers!