Volume 2, Number 3
|Table of Contents|
10 Early Signs Your Client's Going To Lose Custody
Clients seeking custody don't always say what they mean. Careful attention to the information volunteered by the client and responses to simple questions during the initial interview often forces real clues to emerge, revealing the client's agenda. The client's motivation for seeking custody may stem from more than a genuine concern for the child's best interest. Does your client really want custody of the child?
The client's life is spinning out of control. Gone will be the social status conferred by marriage, a second income, half of one's domain, and even the object of one's disdain. Elimination of fault as a ground for dissolving the marriage puts a non-negotiable twist upon whether or not the marriage will terminate. Mandatory child support guidelines and statutory factors for property distribution often reduce the task of dividing up the spoils to a matter of simple algebra. Often the only issue remaining for the catharses of debate, name-calling, finger pointing, blame, conjecture, speculation, vituperation, and contest of character is the custody award. Because the criteria for determining custody are subjective, the likelihood of the client's self-deception and manipulation of those criteria is great.
These clues usually will mark the client who is headed for unsuccessful custody litigation:
Like all generalizations, these markers won't identify every client with a weak claim for custody. Some clients are simply not very bright. Others are glib, articulate and sufficiently savvy to spout the right lines, foiling everyone except the judge. Identifying those clients at the outset who aren't likely to win custody can be a valuable reality check for both counsel and the client.