was raining slightly on that Thursday October morning in 2003. Two parents were arriving to the Tarrant County courthouse for their final day of their final court hearing. Mom walked to the end of the hall carrying one picture frame, her purse followed by two witnesses. Dad got off the elevator supporting a dolly with four file boxes. Followed behind were 15 witnesses, some carrying 48 two-foot by three-foot calendars, five 200-page colored photo albums, several flip charges, more than 30 exhibits marked A through DD, and boxes of letters, copied in triplicate for his attorney, the judge and opposing council. In the top box, was an alphabetized list of witnesses (his and hers), binders of what witnesses would testify on and a list of questions and objects for each. The Dad’s friends had clipboards and were checking off witnesses while another was moving the file folders into the courtroom. Is there any guess as to which parent won full custody of their then, four-year old daughter?
Now is the Time to Work on Your Custody Case
Looking back, I bet I spent about 1000 hours over the two years leading up to my final court case, preparing for that day in October to win full custody. To put that into hours you can relate to consider this:
Hours Preparing for My Final Court Hearing
- That’s about two-hours a day,
- five days a week,
- for 100 weeks or
- two years!
If you are looking for something to do while you are spending a month at home “social distancing,” consider not binge watching the Marvel series but instead working on your custody case. Below are 10 elements you can be doing at home to prepare for your final court hearing.
Planning & Organizing Your Future Custody Case
- Your Photo Albums: This was explained well in this post… Kid-Centric Photos, a Secret Weapon in Custody.
- Making a List of Witnesses: Your attorney, as well as your witness helper, is going to need a list of witnesses you are calling for your trial. There should be a title sheet for every witness that includes: Who they are, contact information, what they will test about, the importance of their testimony. Furthermore, you should also make a sheet for potential witnesses you think your Ex will call.
- Providing a List of Questions for Witnesses: In addition to the above summary, you should outline the goal of questioning this witness and write out the questions, as well as, facts to aid your attorney in getting the appropriate testimony. Again you will do this for your witnesses in addition to your Ex’s witnesses.
- Transcribing Phone Recordings: If your state allows them, and if they are important to your case you should transcribe word for word important conversation recording testimony for your case. Again put on a cover sheet that explains the importance of this evidence and questions to ask your Ex and/or witnesses.
- Building Flip Charts: It is one thing to testify that your Ex has denied your visitation with your daughter 63 times, quite another to see a flip chart showing a graph of those denied visits.
- Putting Together Calendars: I had 48 monthly 2×3′ calendars with red and green squares to show how much I had my daughter and when my Ex denied visitation. Again another great visual.
- Organizing Written Letters and Documents: Your attorney needs a copy of the Temporary Order, there was a file for that. Copies of the agreed Christmas letter, there was a folder for that. Unexcused not when your Ex failed to return the kids to school, you should have an very organized filing system for that as well.
- Outlining Reasons You Should Have Custody: I had a 5 page thesis single line broken down by sections on “Why I Should Have Custody.”
- Outlining Reasons Your Ex Should Not Have Custody: Furthermore, I had a 10 page thesis on “Why My Ex Should Not Have Custody.” written in triplicate.
- Outlining Reasons You Should Not Have Custody: Finally working with friends and family closest to the case, I also compiled every possible question or reason my Ex would present as to why I should not have custody. This is a most important often skipped exercise. Having practiced and thought these elements through made a huge different in our custody case.
Being the better parent and taking the time to plan out your final court hearing is no easy work. The hundreds of hours in pre-time add to your cause and make you a much more prepared parent for fighting for what you believe in. A well run custody case is not for the faint at heart, and not something left to the last minute. If I was staying home during this “shut down” and found myself with lots of extra time on my hands, I would dedicate it to the most important work you can do for your kids. Being prepared to win!
Featured Image is from DepositPhotos.com.