Birmingham Custody Attorneys: 3 Tips Involving School and Custody Issues

School and Child Custody Issues

At Magic City Law, we understand that school should be a safe haven for children. School is not the place for a custody battle!

It’s August in Alabama. That means that it’s “hotter than Hades.” It also means that it’s Divorce Season. The kiddos are packing up their belongings and heading back into the classroom. You’ve spent all summer trying to simmer down your anger toward your spouse via long relaxing vacations and hiding your mounting upsets behind Moana marathons with the kiddos. However, once you walked into the bar to see that the person who answered your personal ad about pinã coladas and getting caught in the rain is your very own spouse, you’re a little finished with pretending that everything is okay. Now that the kiddos are busy learning about their 1-2-3’s, you’ve got some free time to meet with an attorney without having them tag along.

Here’s a few pointers in handling School and Child Custody Issues when school is back in session:

  1. Leave the teachers out of it.

    These people spend each and every day being the go between for students. The last thing they need is to receive an email from the parents bickering back and forth about the costs of field trips or why the other parent shouldn’t be attending lunches. Since they cannot put you in detention, maybe you should save the drama for your attorneys. If your spouse is using the teacher as a sounding board for why he should have custody or why you shouldn’t receive child support, then let him. So, stay quiet and apologize for these actions. These people can be subpoenaed to testify against or for you so always realize that the last thing they want to do is discipline your children AND you.

  2. Fill out the paperwork properly.

    Don’t make the paperwork one sided. Unless the other parent is a danger, the office staff at school doesn’t need to feel the wrath of the other parent when they realize that you filled everything out as if they didn’t exist. (You made me mad so I just left that entire portion about their mother blank. Good luck trying to get their report cards this year, Mildred!) If they are not a danger to your child, let them have access to records. Now if they’re threatening to snatch up your baby and take them away, that’s a different story.

  3. Take the children to school.

    School is important. The last thing you should be doing is taking your child out of school so that the other parent doesn’t have access to them. Even worse than that is to take your child out of school to bring them into the middle of a custody trial. If you have issues keeping the drama from them during their time at home, don’t take them away from their only relief to have to spend hours sitting in a cold courthouse with nothing to eat or do. There’s no Wi-Fi. It’s primitive.

Birmingham Family Law Attorneys: The Magic City Law Difference

Birmingham Family Law Attorney

Need help with your divorce? Give our family law boutique firm a call today at 205-582-2832.

You’re thinking about hiring a lawyer for your family law matter. Whether it be an adoption, custody case, or divorce, you’re not exactly sure who you want to hire. You have checked out a lot of lawyer websites but they all have a gavel, scales of justice, or some sort of laurel wreath. You’ve read through the schools, the length of practice, and how each person wants to try to sell themselves to you. After reading each bio, you’re still just as confused. You don’t know what you want. You don’t know what route to take.

We get it.

As a law firm, we didn’t know which route to take either.  It’s obviously, we’re young & we’re spunky. Our firm is new-ish to the market. We could try the ol’ “we have over “x” # of years of combined experience” line to make ourselves appear older, but we’re not. That’s not us. We get it, we’re young, but we do have years of experience. Most importantly, those years have been focused on one area of law. We spend each and every day gaining experience and expertise in family law. Here’s the Magic City difference. You let us know whether or not we’re the right fit for you by giving us a call.

  1. We want to be your friend and confidant.

First, we keep it real. We don’t attempt to make you feel like you’re stupid or uninformed when you come in our office. We aren’t trying to sell you on what our firm will and can achieve for you. We cannot do that. Each and every case is different. The most important parts of a case are the people and the facts. Here’s the thing, we cannot make you into a better person, we can only work with what you give us. We cannot make the opposing party into a better person, we can only work with what they give us. We will, however, speak to you – sometimes at length – and explain what is going on in terms that everyone can understand.

We make sure that when we talk to you about your case, you leave feeling like you just had a chat with your close friends. We don’t want you to feel like you’re ever bothering us, or that we’re above you. We’re in this together. Regardless of whether or not you just did something crazy.

  1. We work each case as a team.

That means you get two lawyers for the price of one.  Our firm doesn’t charge for two attorneys during our trials, but we work them together. To be the most effective firm we can be, we have to be on point all-of-the-time. One lawyer will do the questioning, while the other is watching the reactions of the people in the courtroom, especially the Judge. We do this, not only for you, but for ourselves. You see, April and I have very different personalities. We use that to improve each other. We may have one of us being aggressive, while the other is working the honey/sugar/niceties. Just remember that you’re on our team when you hire us, and when you hire us, you hire a team.

  1. We want to save you money.

We don’t want to bankrupt you while working to get you to a happier place. We want you to still call us and be our friend when everything is over. We want you to send other clients to us. We often will let you know, as a friend, “hey, those 25 phone calls last week, they’re depleting that retainer, fast. “ We do everything we can to save you money, and keep unnecessary expenses from happening. Although we love money, I mean it’s a material world and I’m a material girl, we don’t love it more than our clients.

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 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.

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 youdon’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, Logo smallshould 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.

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!

3 Tips on Halloween and Your Custody Case

Attention all jack-o-lanterns and ghouls! Halloween with all its spooky glory is haunting our lives here at the office more and more often. Parents are often sacrificing holidays like Thanksgiving or Fourth of July in order to make sure they see their little ones all dressed up and on the hunt for sugar. Negotiating

Halloween Tips for Custody Cases can come to a halt if someone doesn’t get to trick or treat with their little one or be involved in choosing their costume. However, more often than not, parents fight over the major holidays and come to an Agreement only to realize at a later date that they neglected to even think about Halloween Festivities. Then, as the ghost appears, they’re having to call their lawyers in frantic panic to fight over who gets to take the little one this year and that year or how the other parent is allowing their little angel to dress like a devil/zombie/serial killer. If it’s not in the agreement, then whoever’s weekend coincides with the spooky day gets that joy which can really upset the other parent missing out on all the fun. With that being said, here are our Halloween Tips:

  1. Remember Halloween when you’re negotiating.

    People don’t think about Halloween as being a big family tradition until they realize they’re missing out on Little Seymour dressed as a killer Venus Fly Trap. Further. Children sometimes realize they’re going for visitation and all their plans end up ruined. “But MOM, we were going to go as the mean girls on Wednesdays! WE ARE ALL WEARING PINK! Without my girls, I’ll just look like Barbie!” The children’s feelings should be considered. Do they want to be around their main neighborhood during Halloween? Do they like handing out candy? Are they going to want to dress up with their other parent? “BUUUUUT DAD, MOM WAS GONNA BE BATMAN AND I WAS GONNA BE DA PENGUIN!!!” These things should be discussed before the child ends up looking like a fool because they planned a group costume, and now they’re the only one who can’t attend trick-or-treating. Instead they’re angry and targeting happy go lucky kids with skittles as they approach the door.

  2. Halloween isn’t often addressed in “standard visitation” nor is it usually addressed in standard agreements.

    Since it’s not a school holiday, and often times it is celebrated on a different night depending on where you live in order to allow kiddos to not miss school the next day, it could be hard to dictate when the actual holiday will fall. It’s just not given high priority in society because it can be seen as a frivolous celebration as opposed to Thanksgiving or Christmas. This doesn’t mean that you should just go with the norm. Why leave something out and let it haunt you at a later date? Go ahead and figure out if you’ll truly miss your kiddo during a holiday that screams with fun, then work it into negotiations.

  3. Even if you think Halloween won’t be a big deal, it might be better to carve out the details now instead of waiting for a problem to appear like an unwanted apparition.

    It might seem like your kid couldn’t care less about Halloween. That might be because he is only two months old and couldn’t chew those gum drops if he wanted to. What happens as the child ages and he starts obtaining interests of his own. Maybe this year he wants to go as Olaf, Thor, or Elsa. It’s best to figure it out now before you end up poisoning your ex’s candy to make sure you get to see little Timmy dressed as the ice queen.

HAPPY HALLO-NEGOTIATING! DON’T BE A HALLOWEENIE!!!

Call us at 205-582-2832 if you want us to help negotiate a good Halloween schedule for your little ghost or goblin!