An Accessible Attorney
Helping Families Solve Legal Issues

cartoon drawing of lawyer Liz
Cartoon drawing of lawyer liz

How to Win a Custody Case

I get calls almost every day from people asking me how to win a child custody matter. Although it may be bad for business, I almost always say the same thing: no one wins a child custody battle; custody cases are “lose, lose, lose.” The mother loses, the father loses, and the child loses.

Recently, however, I had a phone call with an ex-client that made me think that maybe child custody cases can be “win, win, win.”

The case I’m talking about could have easily been a “lose, lose, lose” situation. The client came to me after his ex-girlfriend had obtained a PPO against him. I tried to get the PPO terminated, but the judge was convinced that she was legitimately afraid of my client. Unfortunately, after watching the videos she presented, I think most judges would have agreed. Later in the case the child sustained burns while at her mother’s home and CPS became involved. Suffice it to say, this mother and father could have fought on forever over the best interests of their child. This could have easily been a “lose, lose, lose” situation. Thankfully, it wasn’t.

When I spoke with my former client the other day, he was glowing. He was talking about how well he and his ex have been working together. He was talking about how they share photographs; he was so positive. This inspired me to ask him, “how did you guys do it? How did you take what could have been such a bad situation and make it positive?” His answer was simple: They both love their daughter so much that they are willing to put their own egos aside to make her life happy.

Although his answer was short and simple, the concepts in it are anything but simple or easy. In order to achieve what this couple has achieved, the adults involved need to believe that it is in their child’s best interest to have a good relationship with the other parent. Time and time again, this premise proves to be quite difficult for mothers and fathers.

Most people see the other parent’s differences as failings. This couple could have easily fallen into that. She accused him of domestic violence, which he vehemently denied. The daughter was injured at the mother’s house and this evinced his feelings that the mother didn’t pay attention to the daughter. Keeping the daughter’s best interests in mind, however, they continued to support each other and they continued to help each other be better at the things they always seemed to struggle with.

Isn’t that the root of ego? Our ego tells us that the way we do things is right and the way other people do things is wrong, and if other people are wrong they’re not as good as us. If we put our egos aside, however, we can help someone else who’s struggling, or even failing, to be better. In my opinion, that is the only way a custody case can be a “win, win, win.” If both parents see the failings in the other, and instead of judging them, help each other to overcome their struggles and to better themselves as parents because that’s what’s best for the children.