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Child Custody Made Simple: Understanding the Law of Child Custody and Child Support

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9780964940406: Child Custody Made Simple: Understanding the Law of Child Custody and Child Support
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CHILD CUSTODY MADE SIMPLE is an indispensable guide to the strange, sometimes bewildering world of family courts. Written in clear, simple language, it answers many questions posed by separated, divorced, and never-married parents. Packed with expert tips and techniques, this informative book unlocks the secrets of family law, and shows you how to succeed in the brave new world of single parenting.

In CHILD CUSTODY MADE SIMPLE you learn:
- What custody decisions are really based on.
- Who usually wins a custody trial.
- Where to find the best lawyer.
- How to save thousands of dollars on legal fees.
- When to fire your lawyer--and when not to.
- How to respond to emergencies such as domestic violence, parental kidnappings, false allegations, and custodial interference.
- Why judges follow support guidelines--and how to influence them.
- Five strategies to improve your chances of collecting child support.
- Eleven ways to enforce a child support order.
...and much, much more!

You owe it to yourself and your children to read this book!

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About the Author:

Webster Watnik is a writer living in southern California. After earning a Master's degree at the University of Southern California, he began a career writing interactive multimedia courses for personal computers. Soon after, he was drawn into a custody battle over his son. During the course of the litigation, he decided to write a book to help other single parents understand the issues involved in sharing their children.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

CHAPTER 9 - FINDING A LAWYER

Because child custody is so inextricably bound up in the laws, it's likely that at some point you will want to talk to a lawyer.

A lawyer is someone who represents you in legal matters. Lawyers--or attorneys--are people who have usually completed four years of college, three years of law school, and passed a special test called a bar exam.

In a few states--notably California--people can pass the bar and practice law without having completed law school. In other states, graduates of certain law schools are automatically admitted to practice without having taken the bar. But most lawyers have completed three years of law school and passed the bar.

When you go out to find a lawyer, you'll have many choices. Some lawyers have a general practice, while others specialize. Some work by themselves, while others work in a partnership of lawyers, called a law firm.

You'll have to choose your lawyer, and that will not necessarily be an easy decision to make. Deciding which lawyer to hire will be the single most important decision you make.

This chapter discusses how to find a lawyer.

WHAT YOUR LAWYER WILL DO

Generally, a lawyer has two main jobs: to uphold the law and to protect a client's rights. More specifically, your lawyer should do the following:

Give Legal Advice One of the main reasons why you hire a lawyer is to tell you what the laws are. Family law is a quagmire of exceptions, and a knowledgeable lawyer will advise you on what you can and cannot do. You can ask questions in advance, or simply review decisions you've already made. And because the lawyer is objective--and you're not--he or she can help by telling you precisely what you don't want to hear. A lawyer's job is to help clients adjust their expectations to the legal realities.

Do the Legal Work A second reason to hire a lawyer is to handle the legal work. Legal work that lawyers do typically includes: - Investigating the facts in the case.
- Researching prior judicial decisions.
- Reviewing new laws that may apply to the case.
- Writing and preparing legal documents.
- Delivering documents to the court and to the other party.
- Arguing to the judge in favor of your side.
- Questioning witnesses.
- Objecting to improper testimony, exhibits, or arguments made by the opposing attorney.

Not only do these tasks require unique knowledge, but the lawyer must adhere to precise standards mandated by the court. While you could theoretically do all of these things yourself, it may be easier to hire someone who already knows how to do them.

Negotiate for You Since most family law cases never make it to trial, a critical job of your lawyer is to negotiate for you. Deciding child custody is a contentious subject--to say the least--and long after the lawyers go home, the parents must still deal with each other. By helping you avoid dealing with the other parent, lawyers can deflect some of the blame that you and the other parent might direct toward each other. Also, if one parent is in a weak bargaining position--either because of income, knowledge, personality, or guilt feelings--hiring a lawyer can help equalize the negotiations.

Work the "System" for You And finally, a lawyer can maneuver you through the legal system. Local family court is a small community, with the same judges and lawyers working together for many years. A good lawyer will know both the local court procedures and the personal preferences of the local judges. This knowledge may allow him or her to maneuver the case in front of the judge most likely to issue a favorable ruling. Also, by knowing the inclinations of the judge, the lawyer can give the client the most realistic advice possible about the outcome of intended litigation.

This knowledge--by the way--works both ways. While the lawyers are getting to know the judges, the judges are getting to know the lawyers. A lawyer with a good reputation imparts both credibility and believability to his or her clients.

WHAT YOUR LAWYER WILL NOT DO

"Win" Your Case As odd as this sounds, your lawyer doesn't win your case. You win your case. That is, your lawyer can only give you a tactical advantage for a short period time. Over the long run, you will probably get the result you are genuinely entitled to. Your lawyer does not create the facts--he or she only presents those facts in the best possible light.

Reduce the Cost Lawyers are trained adversaries, and it's their job to aggressively pursue your interests. Frequently, that means making unreasonable demands, filing excessive motions, and choosing litigation over settlement--all of which raises the financial and emotional cost to you. Also, because lawyers must guard against future malpractice claims, they will protect themselves by doing everything they possibly can.

Solve Your Emotional Problems Simply put, your lawyer is not your therapist. If your problems cannot be solved by an application of the law, then your lawyer cannot solve them. Because family law has a superheated emotional component, this is one of the most common misunderstandings about lawyers.

Do Your Work for You While lawyers can handle many tasks, it's your job to meet with the attorney, find and prepare documents and other evidence, give depositions, attend other hearings where your presence is required, and so on. Hiring a lawyer means that you must supervise her--managing how she spends her time and your money, and deciding what needs to be decided.

Copyright (c) 1997, 1998, Single Parent Press

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