1. I want full custody of my child but I've heard the legal system favors [mothers/fathers] so do I have a chance?
I often receive complaints that "the system" favors women, or that "Idaho" [or some other state] favors "father's rights." Meaning, I don't have a chance because of "bias." I do not believe there is a specific bias on the part of the 'system' generally. But there are always prejudices on the part of some individuals in the family law system. Any decision-making process can be influenced, obviously, but what seems like "bias" almost never is. The 'court system' in child custody is made up of people, procedures, documents, rules, schedules, and attitudes, all of which can be influenced in hundreds of ways. That's why the single most important element of a "successful" custody case is having an effective advocate to guide you in the process.
2. What is "Mediation" and will the Court require me to do it?
Mediation is an alternative to litigation which involves direct, guided negotiation between the adults in a child custody dispute, with the help of a trained "Mediator" who is essentially acting as a facilitator in an effort to guide the negotiation. Mediation is normally encouraged and used in every custody case between parents, as well as in guardianship cases, in Idaho, and most other states, unless there are serious issues of domestic violence. The mediator is NOT a 'decision-maker' and is prohibited from making any recommendations efforts to influence the Court. An effective mediator seeks to help the parties find common ground. The mediator often suggests tools or strategies the parties might use to reduce conflict, build a solution, or find a path out of conflict. The mediator often makes information available to the parties about how children develop, how they perceive or experience domestic conflict, and how children are hurt or helped by types of parental behavior.
3. Somebody is trying to "serve" me with papers---what do I do?
Usually, the answer to this question is "take the papers"! There is normally no purpose served by avoiding the service of legal documents, and the sooner you know what "somebody" is saying about you, the sooner you can deal with it! Now, there may be times, such as in a jurisdictional dispute (where an issue exists about whether one place or the other is better for a case to be heard), where service of documents on you might be advantageous for one party, and put someone else at a disadvantage, so it's always good to know your rights if you're in a dispute that crosses state lines, but those situations are pretty rare, actually. Remember, in our legal system, claims or allegations against you---even if completely absurd---will be accepted AS TRUE by a court if you fail to respond properly and within the proper time limits. So getting ahold of the 'papers' which contain someone's claims against you is actually very important!