• Stephen Williams

5 Easy Fixes – or 5 Red Flags – in your Child Custody Case (VIDEO)

Updated: Aug 2

Around the office we call this “low-hanging fruit.” This article is not about big things like getting a lawyer or treating an addiction or working through personal problems with personal reflection, prayer, meditation or professional counseling. Those things are hugely important, obviously…

This article is about little, almost silly it’s so simple things that people don’t have in place in their lives. Some people reading this might even be surprised that a fair number of folks don’t have some of these things in place.

Part of the value here is substantive, meaning that the tools and practices have inherent value in and of themselves. A smaller, but no less important, part of this is extrinsic, or somewhat cosmetic, in that…well…having these little things in place makes it look like you have your shit together, and not having them makes it look like you don’t.

1. Have a possessory interest in your home…huh?

Your name needs to be on the deed or lease to where you live. If it’s not, that’s where my cross-examination starts. If you’re dealing with a room full of lawyers, one of whom wears a robe, we are weary of the stability of a family unit that sleeps under the roof at the sheer discretion of someone else.

Live with a family member or friend? Find a simple lease online and pay your family $1/month or something. This isn’t foolproof, but it checks the box.

Live with a significant other? The $1/month thing is a little more risky here. The more reliable method is to have your name on the lease right alongside your partners.

Function: you can’t get kicked out without due process. Imagine being in a custody battle and being in a situation where your stuff can be on a curb tomorrow with no legal recourse whatsoever.

Plus, it just makes it look like you have it together. Not having it makes it look you don’t.

2. Have a personal voicemail greeting

Your friends and family probably just send texts or messages on social media. Stakeholders will call and leave a message. If the default voicemail greeting just states your number, a nurse from a doctor’s office, a legal secretary, or a DHR worker won’t be positive they have the correct number and may not leave a voicemail with important information because of the confidential nature of the circumstances. Oh, and please, please, please avoid having your voicemail not set up at all.

Plus, it just makes it look like you have it together. Not having it makes it look you don’t.

3. Have an email address…and check it routinely

Excuses to not have an email address exist, but not good ones.

I have extolled the exponential the values of your local library branch before. This is a big one. If you don’t have a smart phone, fine, go to the library. Don’t have a computer, go to the library.

Notice I did not say check your email often. In fact, I discourage checking email often. The key is to make it routine, i.e., at regularly scheduled intervals. It doesn’t even have to be at specific times.

Pro Tip: Do not check email in the morning. Your day has a tendency to become about whatever emails you checked in the morning. For most people, at least in their personal lives, a 15 minute run through email before lunch and another 15 minutes before an evening meal should be sufficient.

Plus, it just makes it look like you have it together. Not having it makes it look you don’t.

4. Have a calendar…and use it.

I live out of my calendar. It’s the only way my team at Foxtrot and I can function on any sort of effective level.

You won’t use it near it as much in your personal and co-parenting life, but it’s no less important.

– Put exchanges of custody and visitation on the calendar

– Color code days you have the children with you and a different color for days you don’t. Plan accordingly. Let friends and family know when planning special events so Grandma’s birthday dinner can be scheduled for a day you have your kids rather than trying to move days around with a co-parent you don’t like dealing with anyways. (As I’ve said elsewhere, your life gets better the second you stop negotiating your schedule every day and just follow the order, for better or worse).

5. Have a real, live checking account…with a debit card.

This is a touchy one. Poverty is a real thing. It’s a complicated thing, too. There are real financial barriers to getting a bank / checking account and managing it effectively. It can be tough.

Affordable options exist, though. Convenient options exist. One banking consultant, Richard Moran, writes that poor people go unbanked predominantly because poor people simply don’t go into banks. To address this problem, companies are putting banks in Wal-Marts, pharmacies, and shopping malls.

In order to run my business and serve our mission as effectively as possible, I have to research micro-, macro- and socio-economic issues effecting the families we serve. That gives me some perspective…

The Judge, though, in your child custody case just hears that you go through life on a cash basis. It’s not fair, maybe, but addressing this this just makes it look like you have it together. Not having it makes it look you don’t.

This article contains general information and should not be construed as legal advice for you or your unique situation. If you would like to speak more about how you, as a committed parent or caring relative, can be more effective in your Child Custody case, please visit www.ThinkFoxtrot.com/public_calendars/ to schedule your initial consultation at one of our offices. ~SW, Foxtrot

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