What Happens In Custody Disputes When A Client Has Reasonable Expectations?

There is a saying in family law, that one often sees good people at their worst.

I think that saying is particularly true in custody disputes. I have seen people get upset because the other parent was a few minutes late dropping off their children at an agreed upon meeting place. Never mind that there is always traffic in Los Angeles, and, in general, that causes people to be late. I have seen people argue over an agreed meeting place to exchange their children, because of a difference of a few miles. Believe it or not, people rake up billable hours and spend thousands of dollars arguing over nonsense like that.

Even worse, I have seen people hurl unfounded accusations of domestic violence against one another, in order to gain leverage in a custody dispute. The party who is making the false allegations is often ordered to pay sanctions, and to pay the fees incurred by the other spouse for having to defend against said accusations. Although the accused party may recover the fees s/he has incurred, these battles often leave long lasting and devastating psychological  scars on the parties and on their children.

Well, my experience is about to change. I was recently retained by a woman is the polar opposite of what I described above. This woman wants a divorce from her current husband because she realizes that their marriage is over. However, she acknowledges that she will have to continue to co parent with her soon to be ex husband until their daughter is 18 years old.

Even more surprising and refreshing, is my client’s acknowledgment that her soon to be ex is a wonderful father. Accordingly, she wants her daughter to have a close relationship with her father. She wants the father to have frequent and regular contact with his daughter, and she is open to any kind of custody arrangement that will suit both of their work schedules.

Wow! This is a Judge’s dream. This is precisely the kind of thinking that family law practitioners encourage of their clients. This kind of thinking is actually codified in the California family law code!

What does this mean for my client? Custody is often the most litigated and contested issue in most divorce cases. People argue more over custody than they argue over dividing property and assets. Therefore, if the clients can work out their own custody arrangement, we will probably be able to settle the remaining issues out of court. The parties may be able to finalize their divorce by simply filing the right paperwork. It means that the parties will save time and money.

Most importantly, it means that their daughter will grow up feeling loved and nurtured by both of her parents, notwithstanding that they will be divorced.