Child Custody in New York
Think about this before you make your first appointment with a lawyer
Planning Your First Meeting with a lawyerWhat should I have thought about before I meet with my lawyer?
It is never too early to consider what you are hoping to get out of the litigation. You, not your lawyer, decide the objectives of the litigation. Are you seeking a particular schedule each week or month for the child to be with each parent? Are there specific safety concerns you want the court to address? Are you looking to move, or to prevent the other parent from moving with the child? There are many other potential objectives. But when you schedule a meeting with the lawyer, if you can state why you wish to meet, you are far more likely to leave with an understanding of how likely it is you will achieve this objective, and what work needs to be done to increase the odds of success.
Of course, as you discuss the case with your lawyer, you should feel free to modify your objectives though the consultation process. But if you know what you want of the litigation, the focus of your first few sessions can be on what steps need to be taken to present your best case to reach your objectives, and to consider the obstacles that you must overcome.
In addition to considering your objectives, you would be wise to review a primer such as this one to get a basic understanding of what facts and arguments courts in the past have considered when they have adjudicated custody cases. First, this gives you ideas about what those courts found to be important. Chances are high that future courts will likewise find similar facts and arguments persuasive.
Second, an honest review of prior cases will help you manage your own expectations. Custody disputes are difficult cases. More than just being expensive, they can be all consuming in your life. You need to consider the likelihood of success before you plunge into the litigation. I will help you in every way possible, but you need to decide for yourself whether what is likely to follow from the decision to custody is worth the chances of success.
Should I keep a diary?The short answer is yes, but it needs to be a particularly type of diary to be of use. The truth does not determine the outcome of litigation; the outcome of litigation follows from the truth one can prove.
A diary that tells the lawyer of events but does not state who observed these events and how to contact the persons who observed these events (witnesses) serves little purpose. If the other parent did something awful to the child in front of witnesses, but we cannot produce those witnesses at trial, we may be unable to prove the event. If so, the truth (the awful conduct) is quite true. But it will not change the outcome of the litigation. We must prove the awful event for the court to consider the awful event to change the order.
The diary you keep should merely record events. The diary you keep needs to record who observed these events and how that person can be located months later when the case goes to trial. If your diary assists the lawyer prove the events favorable to your objective, your lawyer stands a better chance to achieve your objectives.