The Diavorce Solutionist

How to Use Tactics to “Beat” the Other Parent in Family Court beat other party in family court

Today, we’re diving into an all too important and often complicated topic: navigating the twists and turns of family court to beat your opponent. Whether you’re representing yourself or you’ve got an attorney by your side, using the right tactics to execute a keen strategy is non-negotiable if you want to get custody of your child(ren). So, let’s strategize together on preparing to win custody.

Coming Up with a Gameplan in Family Court

Strategy is the foundation of any custody or divorce case in Family Court. It’s not the law or procedure that gets people what they want, or even close to what they’re seeking, it’s strategy. Having a well-thought-out gameplan serves so many purposes, especially in a place like family court where anything goes. You can have a gameplan but if you don’t have the specific tasks to achieve your goals then you’re wasting your time. Being ready for the unexpected, having a backup plan for the letdowns, and staying on course when things get tough are all good reasons to have one. 

Using the Right Tactics to Execute Strategy

First off, let me share with you the first step in coming up with tactics that will execute your solid gameplan for your family court case: take the time to journal your current situation. Be honest and open with yourself about every aspect of your current circumstances concerning your finances, your living situation, your health, etc. Jot down everything real and happening right now. Why? Because family courts are dynamic and what’s true today may not hold tomorrow but you need to be prepared for it all. 

Next in your gameplan execution is: Understanding everything about your opponent including their motives and circumstances. It’s not just what you know about the other party from when you were together, it’s also identifying the key components of the other party’s case theory. You need to know their “real” motives, their case strengths and weaknesses as well as their current situation. Knowledge is power here, folks. 

Once you’ve done that, or while you’re doing that, it’s time to conduct research and investigation to see what’s out there.  Research can help you make the best argument, make informed decisions, and position your custody or divorce case for the outcome you intend on getting. The information will help you get into the nooks and crannies of every step of the family court process, this helps increase your chances of success tenfold. You will need to find applicable court rules & laws, the background information on the key players (like the judges and lawyers), and any resources that might be available for family court litigants. Investigating is necessary to help back up everything you know about the key players as well as to find out what you don’t know about them.

Then after you’ve done your research and investigation you need to brainstorm, take everything you’ve learned and discovered, and figure out what to do with it. Do you use it now, hold it for the right time or not use it at all -these are all that you need to ponder. The key is to make use of it all the best way possible. Some things might not matter right now but might be critical later, and vice versa.

After all of this, it’s time to plot. Plotting takes planning and preparing to a whole other level. It’s not merely deciding what your next move should be. Plotting is basing your next move on what the other party’s next move will be. This is called “preemptive” moves, which are different from preventive ones. It’s not just anticipating their moves, it’s deciding what your next move should be based on what you anticipate they will do. You’re getting in front of anything they can possibly claim or defend.

I cannot stress enough the importance of strategy. Think of it this way: law might dictate 20% of your case, but your tactics can sway the remaining 80%. And remember, family court can sometimes be biased and often dismissive of what we consider ‘rights.’ Brace yourself for these challenges, and factor them into your game plan.

In building a strategy, assess your strengths, weaknesses, threats, and the favorable factors at play. This isn’t simply about having resources but about thinking critically. It’s plotting—meticulous and calculated planning.

Tips to Employ Tactics

You can have a clear vision of what you want but be confused about how to get there. This happens more than you think. It’s paying attention to the details that are extremely critical to successfully executing any gameplan. These are some key things to keep in mind:

  1. Being organized can’t be optional. Create a prioritized plan, and then make a backup—because, let’s face it, life loves throwing curveballs, especially in family court. Consider the ‘best interest of the child’ factors critically, and always maximize your time and arguments in court.
  2. Skills and confidence could mean the edge you need, and these don’t always come from your attorney. They come from you, developing them rigorously.
  3. When presenting your case, think outside the box. Be creative, and resourceful, and always question with specific intent. Don’t ask something when you can answer it yourself. Pay attention to the details; that’s where the devil (and sometimes the angel) lies.
  4. Flexibility is key—I can’t emphasize that enough. Speak with goals in mind and be discreet about your intentions. In court, making the other person comfortable can be your stealth weapon; they listen better, understand better, and are more inclined to trust and believe you.
  5. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, don’t give too much away. Be mindful of the judge’s reactions, ask questions strategically, and always keep the oversharing in check.

In conclusion

Don’t destroy a perfectly good case by going to family court blind. You need to stop, plan/organize, and then take action…the “right” action though not just any action.

If you wish to discuss your options as a pro se (self-represented) party, please feel free to visit here.  If you are interested in our unique Pro Se Family Court Membership program, please find out more here.

Agencies’ Resources in Family Court

Using Public Agencies’ Resources in Family Court

You absolutely need to use everything in your arsenal, or that’s at least available to you, if you have any chance of winning your custody or divorce case on your own. When I say on your own, I don’t mean literally. I mean if you are representing yourself, are pro se, then it is ever more important that you take advantage of all of the resources out there. Being pro se in Family Court is already very challenging, and can be more disastrous for your case, so you need to do what you can to minimize the obstacles from every direction.
Family Court is Smorgasbord

Look, let’s face it, Family Court is not your typical court. Not at, unlike most other courts, the Family Court encompasses the most sensitive topics regarding family, relationships, and parenting.  Some would go so far as to describe it as a confluence of a mental health facility, a social services agency, and a place for justice. And whether you agree or not, the reality is that Family Court is rarely ever solely about what’s being discussed in court. At the same time, since there’s always more going on than the obvious, there are typically several other resources or entities that can step in to diffuse most situations.

Being Preemptive in Family Court

Domestic violence (IPV), substance abuse, child abuse/neglect, mental health issues, and developmental issues are all prevalent in most, if not all, Family Court divorce or custody cases. Getting these issues addressed by the right authority can oftentimes minimize their impact on the court experience. It is best to not only take preventative measures whenever possible, but there at times when it’s best to take preemptive ones instead. This means preparing for the attack before the actual attack occurs. So, for instance, if you know that the other party or opposing counsel will raise issues of allegations of abuse, you would find out every procedure, program, etc. that would address the abuse. How you would use the insight will depend on the nature of the allegations, the extent to which they will play a role in your case and the possible outcomes.

Tips for Utilizing Agencies in your Divorce or Custody Case

When navigating a custody case, social service and public agencies can provide valuable support and resources. Here’s how you can effectively utilize them:

  1. Research relevant and applicable agencies: Almost any of the issues that are prevalent in Family Court have a corresponding agency that acts as a gatekeeper, monitor, or rehabilitative resource. Start by identifying the agencies that deal with these. Familiarize yourself with their roles, responsibilities, and services offered.
  1. Understand their processes: Learn about the specific processes and procedures followed by each agency. Always start by going to their website, where information about their structure, mission, procedure, etc. can be found. Then see if they hold public meetings, have information sessions, etc. so that you can establish contact with a person on staff.
  1. Make direct contact: It’s always ideal to have direct contact, via phone or email, where you can ask a staff person specific questions that can help you in your case or defend yourself in the case. You don’t need to divulge any sensitive information. In fact, it is advisable to be very careful that you don’t share particular issues of danger to mandated reporters, where you can be implicated unless you are prepared to present your defense. Consult with a family law attorney to understand the best approach for involving public agencies in your particular custody case. They can guide you through the legal aspects and help you navigate the specific requirements and protocols.
  1. Use the information in your case in court or as part of negotiations: Once you know how the agency works, what the criteria are, what they offer, etc. you can use it in your case no matter what position you’re in with respect to it. That means you can use it to work on your case’s weaknesses, use it to request appropriate services for the other party, or use it to get the help you need for your child(ren).
  1. Collaborate with professionals: Public agencies often work closely with professionals such as social workers, counselors, evaluators, GALs and lawyers. Be cooperative and open to their involvement, as their assessments and recommendations can influence the outcome of your case. Provide them with any relevant information or evidence that can support your position.
  1. Take advantage of any rehabilitative programs offered: Lots of these agencies have preventive classes, workshops, etc. offered for free or reduced costs. Things like parent education, sobriety programs, etc. are usually topics covered.
  1. Maintain documentation: Keep detailed records of all interactions, communications, and documents exchanged with the public agencies involved in your case. These records can serve as valuable evidence and help ensure that your concerns and actions are accurately documented.
  1. Follow up and stay informed: Stay engaged in the process by regularly communicating with the agency and using what you’ve learned or worked on to your benefit.
In Conclusion

Remember, every jurisdiction might have different processes and guidelines regarding the involvement of social services and public agencies in divorce or custody cases. Not to mention, judges are not too fond of litigants abusing or misappropriating these agencies’ resources. However, they can certainly defer to any recommendations, commendations, etc. made by these agencies and rely on them to help make sound rulings.

If you wish to discuss your options as a pro se (self-represented) party, please feel free to visit here.  If you are interested in our unique Pro Se Family Court Membership program, please find out more here. 

Last week I started a 3-part series on incorporating strategy in Family Court appearances. The goal is to show you how having a solid game plan enables you to position your case advantageously. Last week I focused on the first court appearance in custody or divorce, the Initial Conference. This week’s focus is on using the Family Court appearance that follows the Initial Conference, the Family Court Status Conference as part of creating your strategy.

What the Family Court Appearance Status Conference Is

A status conference, in divorce or custody, gives the parties the chance to update the court on what has occurred since additional documents have been filed, to follow up on how temporary orders are working, or to check-in whether certain conditions have been met. The court will want to know how things have been going with respect to visitation to see if things can be resolved without a trial. If at the last court appearance either of the parties was self-represented, the court will want to know if that party(ies) hired a lawyer.

If the judge ordered certain procedural things, like a drug/alcohol screening, a mental health evaluation, or a home investigation, it would follow up with whether those things have been done. Also, if a GAL has been appointed, then the court will want to know the status.

The Goal of the Family Court Status Conference

Family Court, like most other courts, has an interest in saving time and resources. This means that the judge will always aim to get the parties to settle their case.  Family Court appearance Status Conference in custody or divorce is slightly different than the Initial Conference. The court’s hope is that by employing the tactics or measures mentioned above, they will flush out the perceived issues from the real ones. A custodial parent who insists that the noncustodial parent is incapable of taking care of their child for more than a few hours may realize that that’s not a real concern. The court will examine resolution tactics outside of a trial, like mediation. If the court decides on an alternative dispute resolution, it will set dates for the parties to adhere to.

A Discovery plan might also be discussed at a status conference. This usually entails setting rules & restrictions on Discovery as well as a timeline for the exchange of Discovery.

The last major thing to be addressed in a status conference is overall scheduling. In addition to setting dates for mediation and Discovery, the court will also set a deadline for any motions or amendments to petitions. In addition, the court might establish a pretrial conference date and a trial date.

The process for the status conference might differ when both parties and one party is self-represented. The court will try to encourage pro se litigants to get an attorney at this stage of the case with the thinking that they’d be more inclined to settle.

Using this Family Court Status Conference Strategically

This is the time to use what you have gathered outside of the courtroom, because of the court’s directions, to your advantage. In other words, the orders the court issued, the procedures the judge directed, etc. all offer you vantage points that didn’t exist before. You might have had suspicions about some issues that question the other party’s “fitness” as a parent. Or questions about the safety conditions of the other party’s home. Or speculation about the mental or physical health of the other parent. Either way, the status conference is the ideal time to gauge the court’s position on these specific issues. If, for instance, you mentioned your concern about drug abuse and the judge ordered drug screenings, then this shows that the judge takes this issue seriously. How many times have you raised concerns in court that were dismissed by the judge, often I bet? But if the judge thinks the issue, you raise has some semblance of merit, they will respond accordingly.

The other strategic way to use the Status Conference is by incorporating the information you acquired to help you decide if you should settle or proceed to trial. At this stage of your case, there have been several discussions about settling at least a portion of your case. However, having the results of tests or investigations only helps you to make a much more informed decision when it comes to negotiations.

And last, if you are pro se (self-represented) you can learn a lot about the court process, the laws, and the local procedures at the status conference. You should always be on full alert, listening, watching, and taking mental notes.

In Conclusion

Every stage of your case offers some advantage as it progresses along. You might see going to court as a war zone, triggering all sorts of emotion, while I see it as an opportunity. Any time you are in an environment where you can learn the opposing party’s objective, you should see it as a potential advantage.

My new Pro Se Family Court Membership Program is the perfect solution to your custody or divorce situation.  Having a solid game plan that focuses on using strategy can make or break your case.  Interested in the details? Check here.

If you wish to discuss your options as a pro se (self-represented) party, please feel free to visit here.  If you are interested in our unique Pro Se Family Court Membership program, please find out more here.

Once a divorce or custody case starts in Family Court there is usually a process in court. Unless the parties agree and filing the papers is just a formality, every case is set to proceed down the same path. The objective of that path is to facilitate the process by identifying issues, resolving issues, and getting a final determination. Each stage of the case has a specific goal and serves an exact purpose. To litigants, this process can seem confusing, unnecessary, and at times, prejudicial. But the process can be used to your advantage as a litigant if you would keep several things in mind. Strategy entails gathering information whenever and however you can, the court appearances are ideal in that sense.

The Initial Appearance

The Initial Conference itself is usually a brief meeting. Although all parties are required to appear, the way you appear is up to the court (via phone, video, or in-person.)

A final determination of anything asked for in the petition or motion is unlikely unless the parties agree to it. However, there are instances where temporary orders are issued depending on the parties’ requests, the immediate need, etc.

The Initial Conference is your first opportunity to gauge what the “real” issues of the case are. When crafting your strategic game plan, one of the principal elements is that you gain an understanding of where the opposing party stands. What this means, is that you need to know what their strengths and weaknesses are. You might think you know what they are, but you will get confirmation at the initial conference. The judge will want to know what the issues are and will more than likely, give some hints as to which issues are “real” issues.

In addition, the Initial Conference is your chance to familiarize yourself with the court process, the key players, and the judge’s demeanor. These are all key elements to focus on when creating your game plan too. Your case is not just about the parties, the law, and/or the lawyers. There is an entire process that and that entire process has a significant impact on the outcome of your case.

And last, you are giving the court to make its impression of you. You get to determine that. So many people are intimidated by the court process when you get to dictate how it goes. You must learn to be calm, focused, and prepared as you only get one chance to make a first impression.

How to Prepare for the Initial Conference

Preparing for the Initial Conference efficiently is important. However, being intentional in how you prepare is critical to the strategy for your case. In other words, plot every step or tactic you intend to use at the actual conference. Review the opposing party’s petition or motion to look for key things to focus on. You want to focus on these specific things to watch for credibility in statements, to check for consistency throughout the process, and to make notes for Discovery requests.

Next, you want to do as much research as you can before the actual conference. Research the laws, the procedural rules, the attorneys, and the judge. You might not find exactly what you expect, but you should look to see what’s out there.

And last, you should have a set of questions in your mind. You might get a chance to ask specific questions and that’s fine. But you should pay attention because although your questions might be unasked, you might still get answers to them.

After the Initial Conference

Once the conference is over, you should have a much clearer picture of what you need to do next. You should feel confident, determined, and empowered, not defeated. Remember, this is your opportunity to determine the direction you want your case to go in. Not let the antics of the opposing party distract or discourage you.

You should be able to fill in some key parts of your game plan.

In Conclusion

Too many litigants overlook the opportunities to take control of their case presented in the Initial Conference. They allow their emotions to take over and lose sight as a result. Every interaction, encounter, etc. is an opportunity to gain leverage. Take advantage of it.


If you wish to discuss your options as a pro se (self-represented) party, please feel free to visit here.  If you are interested in our unique Pro Se Family Court Membership program, please find out more here. 


I am always approached by individuals who are forced to be pro se because their attorney withdrew from the custody case. Attorneys usually withdraw for failure to pay, but also withdraw for other reasons that have nothing to do with money. A client that makes it impossible to represent them, who constantly refuses to cooperate, who habitually ignores court orders, etc. are all reasons attorneys can withdraw. No matter the reason, there are some things pro se litigants should keep in mind when they find themselves in this predicament.

Ethical Rules for Attorney Withdrawal

Most states have adopted some form of the American Bar Association’s Model Rules for the ethical practice of law. This means that every one of the fifty (50) states has its own set of rules that dictate how an attorney should behave professionally. One issue that is covered in all the states’ rules is the method attorneys must employ when they want to withdraw from representation. The ABA Model Rule (1.16(b)) states:

“a lawyer can withdraw from an engagement without cause only if it will not result in a material adverse effect on the client’s interest.”

This means that the lawyer must show “cause” for their withdrawal. In other words, they must have a “compelling reason” to be let out of your custody case.

Although states might differ on the language they use, there is a consensus on what constitutes a “compelling reason.”  It is NOT simply disagreeing on some issues in your custody case, although there are times when this is sufficient grounds. Compelling reasons are usually ones where the client is continuously involved or engaged in criminal activity. Other instances are where they fail to pay their fees or where a conflict of interest is present. These are just a few, the list of instances where withdrawal would be justified is long.

Mandatory withdrawal vs. Permissive Withdrawal

There is a difference between when an attorney can withdraw and when they must withdraw.

The instances where an attorney must withdraw are not as extensive as when they can. That is because the litigant’s right to have continued representation is paramount to an attorney’s desire to leave the case whenever they want.

Circumstances, when an attorney can withdraw, outnumber when they must because of the interests of the client. Lawyers are held to a standard that requires them to consider the legal harm in almost any situation.

Do not be fooled though, attorneys are very skilled at creating a scenario where must takes precedence, or a justified can more likely prevail.

Method for Withdrawing

In all cases, attorneys must follow a specific procedure when they seek to withdraw. No matter what, when, or why, there are procedural requirements in place for attorneys who opt to end their representation.

Most states have a formal requirement where the attorney must file a motion in court seeking the court’s permission. The specifics, however, with respect to the format, timing, in person or in writing argument may vary among the states.

Litigants have the option to object or oppose the attorney’s withdrawal, except where the client is the one requesting the withdrawal. If they can prove that there is undue prejudice or harm to their case that will result from the withdrawal, then they have a chance.

In Family Court, the standard of proof is “preponderance of evidence” which means that a party must provide evidence of at least a 50% value to support its argument. But when it comes to an attorney seeking withdrawal, this standard is automatically shifted to less than 50%.

Client’s Course of Action Upon Withdrawal

What are your options if this is your current predicament? Should you object, or should you consent, or something else? These are the questions you need to ask yourself. But more importantly, should you or could you do anything to prevent this from happening in the first place.

Your options are to let the attorney go; try to compromise or settle your issues or flat out dispute they’re trying to withdraw. If you let them go then you are forced to either hire another lawyer or represent yourself. When you do this, you are more likely to have fewer headaches dealing with the court. The court would much rather you concede than have you fight to keep an attorney that does not believe they can or should continue. If, however, you choose to try to settle your differences, the attorney will have the discretion to choose if they will continue and to set the conditions for doing so. And last, if you choose to fight the withdrawal, chances are you are going to create more problems for yourself, with the lawyer and the court.

Tips to Avoid Attorney Withdrawals

You can try your hardest to prevent the attorney’s withdrawal, which is always an option. This starts with having a clear understanding of your financial means before hiring them. You should not rush to hire an attorney when you have no reliable means to pay them to manage the entire case. I see people get desperate and hire a lawyer just because they think they should. This is a setup for disastrous consequences.

Another way to avoid involuntary withdrawal is to have an express understanding of what your responsibilities are as a client. From the moment you sign the Retainer Agreement, you should be aware of all that is expected from you. At the same time, your attorney should explain to you in detail everything you can expect from them.  You can also learn tips to work with them more effectively.

And last, you should always keep the lines of communication open. I know that most litigants’ major complaint about their attorney is their lack of communication. However, this does not release you of the obligation to facilitate discussions about your concerns, your questions, etc. with them.

Although being pro se is not the worst situation you can find yourself in, it is not the only option or best option for everyone. (Read more here on being pro se in Family Court.)

In Conclusion

At the end of the day, an attorney who does not want to collaborate with you anymore knows how to get out of your case. Even with the rules set to favor you as the client, the courts are not inclined to force continued representation.

If you wish to discuss your options as a pro se (self-represented) party, please feel free to visit here.  If you are interested in our unique Pro Se Family Court Membership program, please find out more here. 


Related Tag: Unmarried Mother Custody

I recently noticed that many Family Court litigants are clueless about filing and using the correct documents in their custody cases. There are different documents for diverse types of cases of course. But there are times when it is not just the type of case that matters, it is its purpose. There are petitions, complaints, responses, objections, oppositions, motions, show causes, cross-motions, cross-petition, and counterclaims. So, let’s discuss all family court documents in custody:

Type of Family Court Case

In Family Court, custody cases can go on forever.  In fact, they typically do.  If you are in court on custody once, you can almost bet on being back over the course of your child’s life until the age of majority.  So, there is a difference, for example, in an initial case for Custody or Visitation and a Modification or Contempt case. The difference affects how the case will proceed, which rules apply and how they apply.  So, an initial custody case might consist of the initial Complaint and maybe a Cross-Complaint as far as documents (pleadings). This is so because the parties are only trying to establish some sort of guidelines or parameters to co-parent.  It is not uncommon that the parties are unaware of all the issues that may become an issue later.

Strategic Plan in Divorce or Custody

Purpose of Family Court Documents in Custody

The other issue is what your objective is in the case.  If you are seeking to shed light on the lies, deception, and false statements, then you might need to file a Response or Opposition. If your intentions are to present your own version of the circumstances, then you might want to file a Cross-Petition or Cross-Motion.  But even further, if you have your own separate demands, then you should most certainly file a Cross-Motion or Cross-Petition in the custody or visitation case.

The document you file will still depend on the type of case, but your purpose for the document is important.

Procedure for Documents

Every single state has its own set of procedural rules when it comes to drafting, filing, and serving custody or visitation documents. They also have specific time frames and deadlines within which specific documents need to be filed. This is extremely important to know because it can affect how you choose to proceed. If you realize at some point in your case, that you should file a Cross-Petition what are your options?

Well, that depends on the point in which you realized it. Can you file a Cross-Petition at the time the case is scheduled for a hearing? If not, what can you do instead? These are all particularly important to know as you navigate your way through your case. You might not be able to, but you can ask for the court’s permission to file an Objection or Opposition. Or maybe you can get the court’s permission to extend the time for hearing/trial until you are able to have your Cross-Petition added to the court’s docket. The way you proceed is dictated by your court’s procedural rules as well as its administrative process.

How it All Comes into Play?

For those of you who do not know, my focus is always on the strategic aspect of custody cases.  My unique approach takes a bird’s eye view of each case and produces a precise plan to help litigants reach their goals.  This means that each of the elements I discussed above plays an important role.  Timing, wording, positioning, etc. all these interplay in how a case should be presented for court success.  So sometimes you might have missed a document filing deadline, but might be able to get on your side of the story another way. Therefore, it is critical to have these concepts in mind the moment you see yourself headed down this path.

In Conclusion

It is extremely important that you are aware of your local court procedures, how to navigate your way around the court (and the website), and that you learn the different forms and their use.  This knowledge can impact the overall outcome of your custody case.

If you wish to discuss your options as a pro se (self-represented) party, please feel free to visit here.  If you are interested in our unique Pro Se Family Court Membership program, please find out more here.

In the world of family law, there’s a widely known term, Disneyland Dad, or Mom, in custody disputes. This term refers to the noncustodial parent who makes their time with the child more fun for the child. The term implies that their motives for doing this are to persuade or influence the child towards them over the other. This usually creates problems for the custodial parent who must “compete” with them.


What Qualifies as Disneyland Dad or Mom?

 A noncustodial parent does things to gain their child’s affection in several ways.  These include buying them expensive gifts, letting them have longer curfews, allowing them to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Basically, the noncustodial parent will purposely give the child things the other parent afford or allow them to do things the other parent does not. Their intention is clearly to be seen as the more likable or “cool” parent. Oftentimes the Disneyland parent goes out of their way to treat their child as their friend or peer instead of a child. They also employ other friends, significant others and/or family members to help them overextend their level of kindness.

Strategic Plan in Divorce or Custody

The parent who does this is usually motivated by their own selfishness. Because if they were concerned about their children, they would respect the boundaries imposed by the custodial parent.

Some Disneyland parents merely use these tactics as a means to be vindicated for being absent or abusive during the child’s life.  On the other hand, the narcissistic noncustodial parents’ motives are different. Their motives are usually control, manipulation, and vindictiveness. In these instances, there is no sound basis or justification for the behaviors.

How Does being a Disneyland Dad or Mom Impact the Best Interests Factors?

The best interests factors for each state varies. Some states put more emphasis on certain issues than others. Not to mention, some states put to give more consideration to some factors than others. The best interests factors require the court to look at them in order to decide what’s for the child’s wellbeing. The child’s mental, emotional, physical, and intellectual well-being are the underlying concerns in every case.

How the Disneyland parent’s behaviors get factored into custody determinations depends on these two things: the actual factors and how their behavior directly tie in and how their behavior affects the overall custody disputes.   The former is a direct application of the court’s standards, while the latter is indirect.  Both perspectives certainly have an impact on child custody cases, but for different reasons.

Applying the Best Interests Factors to Disneyland Dad or Mom

First, let’s look at Disneyland Dad or Mom and the best interests factors overall. The issues that come into play are the parent’s refusal, or inability, to set and maintain boundaries. This can certainly raise concerns with respect to the child’s mental, as well as physical, wellbeing. Mental well-being emphasizes the parent’s responsibility to ensure that the child develops into adulthood in a way that is adaptable. In other words, preparing them for growing up with the tools they need to maintain relationships, employment, Etc. Although parents want to ensure their children are happy, they should balance this intention with maintaining safe boundaries.

A. Factors Directly Related to Coparenting-

Next, the Disneyland Dad or Mom’s own mental or emotional health can be called into question under the best interests application.  The parent’s health, particularly their mental health, is often made obvious by their actions.  Their decision to manipulate their children in this way certainly calls attention to their mental health.

Another factor that might be triggered by the behaviors of the Disneyland Dad or Mom is the one that examines each parent’s ability to maintain or facilitate a meaningful relationship with the other. When one parent is intentionally ignoring or violating boundaries set by the other, it is obvious that they don’t care about maintaining a healthy parenting or co-parenting relationship.

And last, financial stability or standard of home environment also come into play with Disneyland Dad or Mom situations.   This is a huge concern when there is an imbalance in financial resources between the two parent’s homes.  The Disneyland parent usually has more resources and is able to shower the kids with gifts.  Alternatively, the Disneyland parent might have more free time, making them more able to do “fun” things with the children.  Either way, having more of what the child wants makes it hard to challenge this factor when the other parent doesn’t have the luxury.

B. Factors Directly to the Parent-Child Relationship

Another factor that can impact the Disneyland Dad or Mom’s choice to act this way is the child’s preference to live with either parent.  Clearly, their intention is to persuade or influence the child, and most times they are successful. Successful enough to influence the child’s choice about who they prefer to live with.  Of course, younger children don’t really have much say, but this certainly applies to the older ones.

And last, the relationship between the parent and child is most definitely a factor too.  The courts inherently look at the bond between each parent and their child(ren) when deciding custody.   And when the bond is strained or strengthened by deliberate acts of the other, there is cause for concern.

How to Defend against a Disneyland Dad or Mom in Custody Disputes?

There are several things you can do to defend against parents who use their resources to intentionally influence your child.  And although there are practical, moral, and emotional implications, you should try to focus on what you can control.  You can’t control the other parent’s behavior, nor can the courts actually, but you have some control over your children.

You need to work at ensuring your children receive the time and attention you have.  This means that you are not competing with the other parent.  You should use the time you have with your children in a meaningful way.  Instead of focusing on the things the other parent did or bought, for example, you redirect your children to what you are doing with them.

In court, you can focus on the specific best-interests factors that are in your favor.  You are a good parent merely because you are fighting to be a parent.  You might not be the “best” parent, but you most certainly are just as “fit” as the other parent. Use those “fit” factors to your advantage.  No one scores high on all factors, if they did they would not be in custody disputes.

In Conclusion

Don’t accept defeat in the custody disputes by being up against a Disneyland Dad or Mom.   You can work with what you have and still be acknowledged for being a “good” parent.

If you wish to discuss your options as a pro se (self-represented) party, please feel free to visit here.  If you are interested in our unique Pro Se Family Court Membership program, please find out more here.

Strategic plan family court
Strategic Plan Divorce Custody

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Creating a strategic plan in business is a must if that business wants to increase its chances of success. Having one usually indicates that the business is serious about mapping its short and long-term goals. It also means that they are dedicated to putting measures in place to reach them. Having a detailed plan based on your values and beliefs is a win-win. So why wouldn’t you create one for any aspect of your personal life? Particularly where the goals are extremely important and significant, why not plot out a plan. A strategic plan in divorce or custody is brilliant.

Your divorce or custody is more than likely consuming a huge part of your life… right? I mean it does not matter who you are, where you are located, how much money you have it’s daunting.  The Family Court experience is full of surprises. And one of the best ways to prepare for the unexpected is to prepare for the unexpected. A strategic plan is certain to do just that.

Imbalance of Power Custody Divorce

What is a Strategic Plan?

A strategic plan in divorce or custody is a roadmap that sets specific goals for your case. It considers all the facts & information relevant to your issues, no matter the source. It then requires you to use this data to focus on your personal values and beliefs to create a vision. This vision is made up of your long and short-term goals for yourself and your family. Then, creating a specific layout to achieve those goals requires a deeper understanding of the information gathered. The layout incorporates your strengths and weaknesses, measured against threats and opportunities.  This results in you producing a course of action to reach those goals. It is a roadmap, diagram, course of action, game plan to achieve success in Family Court.

Why Should You Have a Strategic Plan for your Family Court case?

As I mentioned, having a strategic plan increases your chances of success no matter what area of your life. And the reality is that you want to get the results you want no matter which side you are on in divorce or custody. Having a plan helps you to map out your goals for your family.

These goals include-

All these goals might have a place in your short and long-term goals. It is for you to decide which ones do and how to prioritize them. Because how you approach them depends on how important they are to you. And the more aligned the two are increased chances of success.

How Do You Create Strategic Plan?

The first step is to take an honest look at your current situation. This is difficult to do, but it needs to be done with as much objectivity as possible. You must dig deep and look wide to assess your financial, personal, emotional/mental, and legal circumstances. It is best that you take your time with this part because any oversights can ruin your efforts overall. Also, it is important to ask trusted loved ones for their insight as well to ensure that the assessment is accurate.

Next, you will spend time creating a detailed list of your opposing party’s position.  Look at the things they are requesting, their current situation, their past behaviors, etc. You do not have to be 100% accurate, but the more you are able to the better.

Then you will need to look at both lists to help you to create your vision. Your vision should consist of what your future family life looks like. For example, what does co-parent look like, what is your future financial situation, and so on.

From there, you will need to identify your strengths and weaknesses. This means classifying those things you produced in the first step, as strengths or weaknesses. They can be physical, legal, practical, financial or anything that has a direct impact on your divorce or custody.

After that, you will need to go beyond your lists to gather information directly related to the legal aspects of your family law case.  This includes your opponent’s position, the court venue/jurisdiction, policy issues, the laws, the judges, basically anything that is outside of your control.

Once you have gone through all these steps, you are able to create a plan by applying these to your overall goals.

When Should You Create a Strategic Plan?

Right now! Contact me to discuss how I can help.

Results of Having a Strategic Plan

You are better able to circumvent the destructive practices of the Family Court. Not only are you more prepared to deal with the Family Court’s bias and unfair treatment, but you also build confidence as a result.

Choosing to be Pro Se, as opposed to having an attorney, can be strategic.  Although most jurists discourage Family Court parties represent themselves, there are times when it’s advantageous.

Being a victim of your opponent is also off the table. Having a plan in place helps to become empowered. The exercise of creating the strategy is itself is empowering.

Having a better understanding of the Family Court process is also an advantage of having a strategic plan. Every step of the process covers every facet of the Family Court journey, and that is by design. You will most certainly be able to highlight the issues that are most important to the judge, which is extremely important.

In Conclusion

So, if you want to increase your chances of “winning” this is an excellent start. There is endless data on the importance of having a strategic plan in place. Even though the data available relates to business strategic plans, there is no sound reason it would not apply in divorce or custody.

If you would like to see how I can help you create the best Strategic Plan for your specific case, please visit here.

Related Tag: Child Custody

If you wish to discuss your options as a pro se (self-represented) party, please feel free to visit here.  If you are interested in our unique Pro Se Family Court Membership program, please find out more here.

It is not unheard of that parties in divorce or custody have unequal playing fields.  In several different family dynamics, one party can assert the decision-making authority or power to dominate the relationship.  Whether it be financial, physical, mental, or emotional, when one party has more to lose than the other, chances are there is an imbalance of power. The imbalance of power in custody or divorce can create a nightmare for all involved.  Most high-conflict cases stem from some unequal distribution of power or authority within the family.  Not to mention, contempt cases tend to happen more in instances.  Violating custody orders that came out of these dynamics is bound to happen.

Family Court Legal Terms, Commonly Used & Misused, Explained-PT I

Imbalance of Power Defined

During divorce or custody, an imbalance of power can exist in a few ways.  It may be something that pre-exists or that occurred as a result of turmoil associated with their Family Court Custody case.  Let’s take a look at situations where an imbalance was a part of the family unit before divorce or custody.   Many families have situations where one person is the breadwinner while the other stays home to raise the children.  And even though the parties’ contribution to the marriage is considered “equal” in a practical sense they may not be.

The breadwinner usually has the resources to hire a lawyer, move out of the home, give the children things out of the question for the other parent, and so on.  Having the means to do these sorts of things certainly puts that party in a more advantageous position concerning their case. This is an example of an imbalance of power in the financial sense.   But the imbalance can be mental, emotional, and physical too.  Anytime one party has substantially more to lose than the other, unfairly especially, there is an imbalance of power.

In relationships where there is physical, mental, and/or emotional abuse, an imbalance of power most certainly exists.  The victim of abuse almost always has no authority in the decision-making process or no power to exert authority in the relationship.

Sometimes an imbalance is created merely by using the children as pawns.  In parental alienation cases, for instance, one parent maliciously brainwashes or programs their child, resulting in hatred against the other.  This can lead to outcomes that are not based on the merits but on the power or authority one has over the other.

Why is Imbalance of Power Detrimental

Where there is an imbalance in power in divorce or custody, someone will undoubtedly lose.  The loss can be short-term or long-term, financial, mental, legal, or even physical.  The acquiescent party, for example, can be strong-armed into agreeing to joint custody knowing that that’s not what’s best for their child.  And in this case, the child “loses” too.  Unequal distribution of power can make negotiation difficult too.  In instances where the issues are pretty straightforward and ripe for settlement, an imbalance of power can unfairly shift things in the empowered party’s favor.

This happens often in Family Court and is major reason cases end catastrophically.  Principles like “the best interests of the child” don’t hold up because the power imbalance prevails instead.  This is disastrous because that empowered parent can shift his or her need to control to the child.

Not all situations are doomed in which there is an unequal distribution of power or authority.

Can You Level the Playing Field

In some cases, there is no leveling the playing field.  However, there are times when the parties (or others involved) can shift the focus.   In mediation, for example, the mediator is skilled at using tactics to shift the focus to the acquiescent party’s favor.  Mediators are trained to use specific methods to help bring important topics to the forefront.  These tactics don’t necessarily take the power away from the empowered party, but they certainly help to keep it at bay.

Another method is to become informed.  Knowledge is extremely important in shifting the focus or redirecting the control of the empowered party.  Arming oneself with all the information and relevant resources can help the acquiescent discover strengths they were unaware of.

A support system is crucial to shifting the imbalance as well.  Oftentimes, the party with the least authority or power builds confidence and strength just from having a supportive team around them.

In conclusion

Be mindful of your particular circumstances.  It is extremely important to be very honest with your intentions, your goals, and your present situation.  This will help you to prepare for what’s to come without losing out on what matters most.

If you wish to discuss your options as a pro se (self-represented) party, please feel free to visit here.  If you are interested in our unique Pro Se Family Court Membership program, please find out more here. 

In the past decade or so the internet has exploded with free information and resources. The legal field is no exception, particularly the world of family law, i.e., divorce, custody, etc. It is a blessing and a curse, to have so much free family law resources being at the public’s disposal. One of the big problems with the endless amount of information is that way too many people think they are now qualified to make all legal decisions.

Where is this Free Information & Resources?

There are a number of ways that free stuff is being offered to the public. Although there are still nonprofit organizations, law school clinics, law firms, etc. that offer pro bono services. Most of the freebies come from online sources like publications, forums, blogs, etc. Websites like, and similar, make it their primary focus to give out free information.

When to Use the Free Resources

Just because something is free to you does not mean it is good for you. They say the best things in life are free. And that may be the case, but at the same time, they say “it might be too good to be true.” Either way, you need to learn to use discernment when deciding if you should indulge. In family law, the best advice is not always paid advice, but free advice can be disastrous. Things you should keep in mind are the complexity of your divorce or custody, the type of free help (advice, information, or representation), whether the other side has an attorney, and so on.  If your case involves an extreme case of parental alienation, for example, then you might not want to take advantage of a lawyer offering free representation if they have no experience in these types of high conflict cases. Also, if your divorce has a question of whether separate property can be considered marital property because of “commingling,” again you might not want to go to court armed with free advice you got online on the topic.

What are the risks of Using the Free Family Law Resources?

Using the wrong lawyer is risky, relying on bad advice is just as risky.  Not that paid is synonymous with quality, but there are times when free is synonymous with subpar quality.  Family Court is a very volatile arena so it is important to be vigilant about everything.

One thing I see litigants doing way, way too often is relying on free advice from forums, social media, etc. I get it, they get desperate considering the stakes are extremely high.  However, choosing this route because the advice is free has wreaked havoc for way too many.

Free consultations are the much safer options, although that route can have its own issues. As someone recently mentioned, attorneys do not always give their best or most effective advice for free.  No, on the contrary, they give just enough to instill fear in people to induce them to hire them.

And then there is the sites that offer free information on everything from specific caselaw to the step-by-step process on how to “win” a case.  The problem is these is that they are not always accurate.  Some of them just regurgitate misinformation found on another site and so it goes on and on.  This has also led to catastrophic results because laypeople do not know that the information is incorrect.

What are the Alternatives?

There are other options to relying on free family law resources.  Some are good and very helpful, so no need to be apprehensive about using any of them but you have to use your critical thinking skills to help you decide.

There are, however, several options out there.  Now there are services available that are low cost and high quality.  Limited scope services, is something lawyers offer as a way to reach parties that have limited funds.  Some lawyers will make limited court appearances part of the service they offer.  This is good because you get to choose when they go to court.  Also, things like document preparation or document review are considered limited scope (or Unbundled Services, which is what I offer).  Lawyers are not the only ones offering these low-cost options.  For example, there are independent contract paralegals that also help with certain aspects of your case.  And, there are actual document preparers who do just that, their costs are typically a fraction of the costs of a lawyer’s.

Legal coaching (I offer Pro Se & Family Court coaching) is also becoming more acceptable as an alternative to actual legal representation.  Lawyers,  and other people with legal experience, are now acting in an advisory position to help people get the guidance they need.  These are all viable options for family law litigants. Particularly those who do not want to rely on the free resources but are limited in how much they can spend.

In Conclusion

Do what’s best for your case and your budget. My advice is to always choose based on asking yourself the important questions.  There are more options out there now than 10 years ago, even a year ago actually.  You can always use both, paid and unpaid to ease your mind of any related concerns.

If you wish to discuss your options as a pro se (self-represented) party, please feel free to visit here.  If you are interested in our unique Pro Se Family Court Membership program, please find out more here.