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  • Writer's pictureStephen Williams

In Child Custody and Elsewhere…the Name is the Game

Able to hear your name in a crowded room? Me, too. My name is Stephen. You’re reading an article by a person named Stephen that works at Foxtrot Family Law. You’re also now ahead of the game in any future interactions you may have with me or our business or especially the world of Child Custody. It’s nothing special about me, necessarily, it’s just that you know my name. Here’s why…

Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence people, wrote that “[a] person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” I don’t know how scientific that is, but it makes a certain level of sense, for better or worse, for at least one reason…it gets your attention.

~ click here to book your Child Custody consultation at

What’s the name of your DHR social worker? You know, that person threatening to take your children?

Who did you speak with at the clerk’s office?

What was your previous lawyer’s name?

Who is your child’s teacher? pediatrician?

Many of our clients, at least starting out, can’t answer these and other questions. Not only does it impede that person’s ability to be effective, it just plain looks bad. In our line of work, the Other Side’s lawyer will make a show of anyone not having this kind of information.

More importantly, however, is the substantive effect of getting people’s names when you work with them. And when I say “work” with them, I use that term very intentionally. These are people with whom you’re engaging in important transactions. They might be your friends, and I hope they are, but understand that it’s a professional relationship. A PTA meeting is a business meeting. Picking up your medication is a business transaction so it might be good to know your local pharmacy tech’s name. Treat these interactions with the formality they deserve. That means, at the very least,

~ click here to book your Child Custody consultation at

A person’s name is a rose and a dagger, engendering rapport or applying subtle pressure and motivation.

Ever seen You’ve Got Mail? What’s the first thing Tom Hanks’ Joe Fox does in this scene, (link takes you to 45s in), to establish rapport with the cashier and get something done?

What does Tommy Boy do before he flips a disgruntled waitress and get his chicken wings in this scene? (link takes you to 50s in)

If you didn’t click the links, know that our hero kindly and genuinely gets the other individual’s name. The interaction becomes more personal, more human, because the individual feels personally appreciated and acknowledged.

On the other hand, and once you have someone’s name, if the interaction turns confrontational, respectfully or otherwise, this individual knows their good name may literally be on the line, whether you have to follow up a supervisor or on a review or, in our case, with the Court. That doesn’t mean you automatically get what you want, but it introduces a significant amount of accountability, something we work to cultivate in all of our cases.

I hesitate to call this a trick, but it works like magic. Introduce yourself, get the other person’s name and the organization they work for if you don’t already know from the context. Write this stuff down and you’ll score major points down the road for remembering.

My name’s Stephen and I help committed parents and caring relatives be effective in Child Custody cases. Thanks for reading; I hope you find this helpful.

~ click here to book your Child Custody consultation at ~


This article contains general information and should not be construed as legal advice for you and 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 to schedule your initial consultation at one of our offices. ~SW, Foxtrot

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