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Why Choose Howington & Associates for Family Law Cases


When you need a family law attorney, look no further than Howington & Associates. All of our attorneys have several years of experience to provide a combined fifty years of knowledgeable and compassionate family law expertise. Whether you need a divorce attorney, child custody, spousal support, paternity, restraining orders, or forensic accounting, all of these services and more are offered by our staff. Our goal is to provide superior family law services to those who need it most. When you require a professional family law lawyer, our legal team is exceptional and can be counted on to provide some of the best legal services in the industry.

Joseph Howington is a Certified Family Law Specialist. His decades of experience have earned him a reputation as one of the most successful, skilled, and knowledgeable family law attorneys in the State of California.  He maintains a perfect 10.0 rating on Avvo.com He is a frequent lecturer and has written many articles on the intricacy of family law matters. He also serves as Judge Pro Tem for Los Angeles and San Bernardino family courts.
Lessen the Impact with Our Professional Family Law Legal Services

At Howington & Associates we understand that family legal battles can be very stressful and life-changing. We offer you our emotional and legal support to help you reach your goal. Our legal services are honed to help lessen the impact and burden on families trying to transition from a difficult situation. If they will help your family, we also support your journey with referrals to services for family counseling and financial management. We have a diligent approach concerning all family legal cases, and are ready to offer you seasoned advice. Howington & Associates is determined to give families knowledgeable law services while trying to reach amicable resolutions that are cost effective, outside of the courtroom. In cases where this is not possible, we represent our clients confidently with our reputation of being strong and successful litigators.
Types of Family Law Cases Handled by Howington & Associates


  • High net worth separations or divorce

  • Domestic violence

  • Paternity actions

  • Spousal and child Support

  • Child custody

  • Marriage divorce/dissolution

  • Grandparent rights


Contact Us Today

Contact our experienced attorneys today to discuss family legal matters at (909) 581-6000. Our team of friendly and skilled staff members will be pleased to provide any assistance that you may need.

Income and Expense Declaration Attachments for Child/Spousal Support or Attorney Fees

It is extremely important that you comply with the law regarding the necessary documents to attach to your Income and Expense Declaration to make sure that you avoid questions by the court and challenges by the opposing parties/attorney.

Whenever a financial issue, for example, child support, spousal support or attorney fees are at issue, the law requires that you file an Income and Expense Declaration within a specified time.  When filing the Income and Expense Declaration, the law also requires that you attach certain documentation.  The California Rules of Court Rule 5.128(a) states that a current Income and Expense  Declaration must be filed and requires that you attach paycheck stubs for the last two months and a redacted tax return for the previous year.

The Family Code Section 3665(a) as it relates to the necessary documents to attached states “a copy of the prior year’s federal and state personal income tax returns shall be attached to the income and expense declaration”.  In addition, the Income information page on the declaration states that it is mandatory that you attach pay stubs for the last two months and proof of any other income.

When submitting your tax return, you must be careful because you must redact, or blacken out, the sensitive personal information, most importantly your social security number.  You should note that the social security number is repeated on every page of your tax return.  You must be very careful in protecting your privacy.

You may questions whether or not the opposing party has a right to that tax return and that is answered by Family Code Section 3552(b) which says the tax returns may be examined by the other party and are discoverable by the other party.  A party may also be examined by the other party as to the contents of a tax return submitted.  You may also have to attach supportive documents to the Income and Expense Declaration.  For example, the law allows a deduction for work related expenses.  If, for example, you are required to pay for tools, uniforms or equipment as part of your employment, then you might want to attach some form of documentation that supports the work related expense.  Another example would be if you have to travel any extensive distance to accommodate visitation or custody.  If that is the case, you might be entitled to a deduction from the guideline and in order to obtain such a deductions, applicable to the guideline, you might need to attach documents like, for example, invoices showing airfare to allow the court to consider the deduction.  Another example rests with the interest and property tax deductions.  Typically, if your pay interest on your residence for the mortgage payment, it will be found in your tax return and therefore by attaching the redacted form of the tax return, it will show the reduction for both of those expenses.  These types of deductions and documents are not required by the Family Code as paycheck stubs and tax returns but they are helpful if you are seeking a deduction to apply to the guideline.

Assume that you are not a W2 earner, and further assume that you have your own business, then you need to provide the court with some evidence of the source of your income.  In other words, if you have your own business then you will have a Schedule C for your tax return that would show the gross revenue  minus the recognized deductions necessary for you to operate the business.  You might want to attach your Schedule C from your tax return or a profit and loss statement simply to show the gross revenues and the recognized expenses associates with operating the business.  Understand that the Family Code recognizes income of various sources.  It recognizes businesses where the net taxable income can be applied to the guideline.

Simply understand the importance of an Income and Expense Declaration and that you are required to provide your best estimate of your expenses, your actual expenses or your proposed needs.  That is a decision let with you and an attorney.  Remember, you have the responsibility to attach certain documents and hopefully that helps you in that regard.

How Do I Challege Child Support and Arrears

This is a common question.  Have you have ever been in a situation where your ex comes to the court, possibly through the Department of Child Support Services, with a simple one page declaration stating that you owe child support dating back the last 10 years?  If you have never had that experience, that will be an eye opener for any person who now has to consider that their ex has gone into the Department of Child Support Services and filed a short declaration where they spell out all of the arrears in child support and ask for child support with a 10% interest factor.  It is a very frightening experience.

The most important concept is that you must follow court orders.  If you have an agreement with you ex-spouse or the mother of that child that you are going to deviate from the support orders, you better have an agreement in writing and one that was adopted by the court as an order.  If not, you may face that challenge that someday someone is going to file an affidavit with the court saying that you owe a monumental amount of money.  If that happens to you want to make sure you have receipts because the burden shifts to you.  It may sound incredible but that is the law.

In 2002, the legislature changed the statute and it removed any defense regarding the delay in bringing the action.  Since that time, the court said that the fact that the receiving party or the payee of support did not raise the issue of arrears in child support is not a viable defense.  That means you that the payee or the receiving spouse can make no claims of arrears, wait ten years or more or any time frame, and still come to the court with a simple declaration and now that declaration says that you owe significant amount of arrears.

You then question how am I going to prove that I made the support payments?  You will have the problem of proof.  If the bank records do not go back more than 7 years, you have another problem.  If you don’t keep receipts, you have yet another problem.  The best advice is to keep receipts and if you have an agreement that modifies or deviates from an order, make sure it is in writing, make sure it is signed by both parties and make it is signed by the court.

Going to Court

Throughout the courthouse (including the elevator) and in the courtrooms, there are video cameras and surveillance. Remember this at all times and do nothing that can be  used against you. Avoid talking loudly or laughing about the case in the hallway or bathroom.

When you enter the courthouse, you will be searched. Do not bring any item that can be construed as a weapon. This includes fingernail files and pocket knives. Do not bring food or drinks. Do not chew gum.

You may bring a support person to court, but try not to bring a new girlfriend or
boyfriend as this can make it more difficult to settle your case. Do not bring your children.

Check in with the court clerk on time. Outside each courtroom is a list of the day's cases. Take note of the number beside your name. Most courts will ask you to stand in line to check in with the clerk. Advise the clerk of the number beside your name, answer any questions the clerk may have and then take a seat.

Make certain that you have turned off all cell phones and pagers. If your phone rings or you pager beeps in the courtroom it may be confiscated and you may be fined.

Dress neatly. Do not wear jeans or shorts. Do not wear excessive make-up or jewelry. Do not wear torn clothing. Do not wear sexy clothing.

Be serious and quiet in the courtroom. Do not talk or make noise with papers. The Judge sees everything going on in the courtroom so be respectful at all times.

The Court requires that we discuss the issues of your case with the other side in an attempt to come to an agreement or resolve as many issues as possible.

If we are able to resolve the issues, then we will enter into a written agreement which will be signed by the Judge. Under these circumstances, we may not need to go before the Judge.

If we are unable to resolve all issues, we will ask the Judge to resolve the issues and make orders. It is important that you are quiet and courteous. Do not be sarcastic or make jokes.

If you are asked a question, answer clearly and specifically. Take your time to make sure you give a correct answer. Do not ramble. If you do not understand the question, ask for clarification. If you do not know the answer to the question, say you do not know. The court reporter must write down everything that is said in the court room. Therefore, you must verbally respond to a question, you cannot nod or gesture. Do not interrupt the other party or the· Judge.

If you have brought a support person with you to the court, advise them that they must remain quiet at all times. They must not gesture, speak out, clap or respond. If they do not agree with what is being said, they must sit quietly.

Regardless of what happens, it is important to remain composed and calm. Do not celebrate or be argumentative with the Judge or the other party.

Preparing for Deposition or Trial as a Witness

The following serves as some pointers that will help you when preparing to testify as a witness at trial.

1. Open ended questions-when you are on cross examination and being questioned by the attorney, always look for open ended questions.  An open ended question is typically one that begins with "Why".  Many attorneys on cross examination refrain from asking "Why" type questions because it does give the witness an opportunity to explain an answer. Always remember that a basic rule of testifying is answering only the question that has been asked. In other words, do not elaborate or volunteer information.  On the other hand, when the attorney who represents the other party asks a question leading with "Why" it gives you an opportunity to explain.  In any question and answer, you must tell the truth.  There are instances when you must elaborate.  Always keep in mind that it is always better to provide detail as long as the detail is related to the subject of the question.

2.  Remember the theme-when testifying, you want to stay within the parameters of the theme of your case.  In conferences with you and the attorney, it gives you the opportunity to test the questions and answers, always truthfully, but those responses which focus on the theme of the case.  That is why many facts may not be relevant to the theme of your case.  You and your attorney will work together to assess the best factual presentation that will develop the theme in your case.

3.  Demeanor - Your demeanor is important on the witness stand. Some types of
behaviors that will not be favored by the judge are anger, sarcasm, and condescension. Remember the judge has a responsibility to not only evaluate the evidence as credible, but the witness as well.  If that witness is angry, sarcastic, argumentative, goes beyond the call of the question and/or loses composure, the judge will take this into consideration when weighing the credibility of the testimony.

4. Avoid argument-when on the witness stand and faced with a very challenging
question, it is better to face up to the consequence rather than try and sneak out or explain away your behavior.  You must answer the question.  Remember the question will be based on "Why", "What", "Where", "Who" and "When".  Listen to the call of the question and answer that question.  Witnesses get in trouble when they are confronted with a question that may be embarrassing or may be touching on a sensitive area.  You must still answer only the question.  Remember that later in your testimony; your attorney will be able to ask you questions to explain the situation and your answers.  The hardest part is for a witness on cross examination to be given a very challenging question and be forced to answer only "yes" or "no".  Most witnesses want to explain or expand on their answers but that is a common error and it makes come across as defensive.  Whenever you become defensive and argumentative, you will lose favor with the judge.

5. Presence makes a difference-always look your best and conservative when you are in court.  As mundane as this may seem, the court is a very sobering place and one where we should show the respect it deserves.  A witness who looks good gives a favorable impression and to that extent you should be conscious of the dress that you wear and the way you appear in front of the court.  These are things that you will work with the attorney in preparation.  The attorney will explain how important your dress, conduct, appearance and action in court are to the judge.  An example would be to try to avoid putting your hands in front of your face when testifying.  Avoid being fidgety or waving your hands and head when answering.  Another example is to keep attention to your posture.  Avoid slumping or bending over.  All of these signs express disrespect and they are signs that will be picked up by the court regardless of your intentions.

6. Avoid the trap-not all of us have a prefect memory.  Many times a question is asked regarding a date or an event that is remote in time. There is nothing wrong with being unsure of the specific date of an event. If you are not exactly sure of the specifics, it is better to give an escape clause.  For example, when asked when a particular argument occurred, instead of stating a specific date (unless you are sure), always say "in or around", "approximately" or "to the best of my recollection".  If you are being cross examined on a topic of a specific date, using these “escape clauses” will help reveal that you are not certain but still answering the question within your knowledge.  If you know the date, then obviously you need to be truthful with that date.  For example, if a witness is asked their date of birth, answering "I am not sure but approximately" that will lose creditability with the court.  If there is a specific date in question and the attorney has that date but you are not sure, then there is nothing wrong with giving an approximation.  Another example would be some type of a reference as to when a situation occurred such as in the summer months or early spring, etc.

7.  Be confident-many times in preparation for trial or a deposition, the attorney will discuss these points that are in summary set forth above. These are only points and direction to give you some confidence in the situation.  Try to avoid memorizing dates and times.  Try to avoid memorizing a chronology of events.
The reason is because an attorney who is skilled at cross examination can trip you up in this chronology and you will become confused when you are trying to memorize these events. Essentially understanding the logic of these pointers will help you with your confidence.
Hopefully the above will serve as a review to rely on.  Anytime you testify it is a very, very emotional situation full of anxiety.  If you follow some of the pointers and rules set forth, I will give you that confidence and a positive approach to your testimony.  The bottom line is and will always be to tell the truth, and if you tell the truth, you will never have to worry about what you said on the last occasion.

Guidelines for Separating Parents

DO:

1. Develop a workable plan that gives children access to both parents.

2. Keep ongoing contact with the children so they don't feel rejected or abandoned.

3. Continue reassuring children they can count on both parents.

4. Guard against canceling plans with children.

5. Establish a home for the children with a place for their belongings (toys, clothes, etc.) with both parents.

6. Maintain telephone contact with the children.

7. Have children ready in time for the other parent.

8. Be home on time to welcome the children for visitation.

9. Keep parental communication lines open.

10. Have separate clothes, toys, seasonal needs, bikes, and games. Minimize or eliminate back and forth commotion between two households.

11. Conduct exchanges at neutral locations. Avoid exchanges at one another's homes when parent conflict is high.

12. Distribute parental responsibilities, such as helping children with homework, working on projects for school or fun, and enforcing chores.

13. Honor all terms of visitation, shared time, exchanges.

14. Keep one another promptly informed of children's medical status, doctor visits, prescriptions (dosage, etc), school progress, developmental milestones (first menstrual period, etc).

15. Exercise caution and good judgment re: children's bathing, tickling, and applying topical ointments to genital areas, giving enemas, sleeping in the same bed, showering together.

16. Safely secure "adult magazines, videotapes, birth control devices. Lock up all guns.

17. Establish time for children to be available to talk to the other parent on the phone. Especially with young children, and in the opening months of divorce, make a priority to allowing your children frequent phone access to the absent parent.

18. Help young children reduce "separation anxiety" by allowing pictures of the other parent. Even better is a videotape of the other parent at home, going about everyday routines.

19. Be extremely cautious in taking what children (especially young ones) say about  the other parent, and what goes on in that parent's household, at face value.  Children exaggerate, fabricate, misinterpret, can confuse fantasy with fact, and "play" to parents' fear and angers.

20. Negotiate as far in advance as possible (several weeks if possible) for modifications of weekend schedules, holiday times, and summer vacations. Follow through faithfully in honoring all such negotiated agreements.

21. Acknowledge your child's stated emotional reactions to the other parent (or stepparent), without "buying into" the child's story: "You sure hate it when your dad gives you a "time out" versus "I'm so sorry your dad is such a jerk to you; no wonder you get so upset when the time comes for you to go there."

DO NOT:

1. Pump your children for information about the other parent.

2. Try to control the other through the children.

3. Use the children to carry messages back and forth.

4. Use children to deliver support payments.

5. Argue in front of the children.

6. Speak derogatorily about the other parent.

7. Ask children with whom they want to live.

8. Put children in the position of having to take sides.

9. Use the children as pawns to hurt the other parent.

10. Give the children discretionary control over scheduled time with the other parent.

11. Create an artificial world, or "repay" children (atone for one's own guilt with indulgences- i.e., "Disneyland Parent".

12. Conduct business with other parent on the phone within children's hearing. (Best to schedule a set time every week or two to discuss  parenting business, preferably when children are in bed or during the day when children are away at school).

13. Send children into other parent's home, especially without that parent's presence or permission, to get personal items or things that "belong" to the other parent.

14. Put children in the middle. DON'T TALK IN NEGATIVE WAYS ABOUT THE OTHER PARENT. CALL THAT PERSON NAMES, DISCUSS THAT PARENT'S BEHAVIOR DURING MARRIAGE.  DON'T SHARE YOUR POOR OPINIONS OF THE OTHER PARENT'S NEW MATE. DON'T SEND MESSAGES, SUPPORT CHECKS, AND LEGAL PAPERS WITH CHILDREN FROM ONE HOUSE TO THE OTHER.

15. Flaunt fun activities (Disneyland, etc.) scheduled at times child will be with the other parent; don't suggest the child negotiate with the other parent to suspend visitation so child can be included in the outing (birthday celebration, etc.); above all else, don't use other parent's refusal to make a concession as ammunition to discredit that parent ("Your dad doesn't love you; all he ever thinks about is himself; Paul's dad lets him change his weekends ... ")

16. Send children to the other parent dirty, in soiled clothing, hungry, deprived of a needed nap, sick without explanation, etc.

17. Insist children call a new spouse or mate "Mom" or "Dad".

18. Leave the answering machine on all the time, thereby making it impossible or at best difficult for the other parent to make phone contact with the children.

19. Talk "adult business" with the children. This includes financial pressures, intentions for upcoming court proceedings, tactics discussed with attorneys, feelings about the other party's new significant other ("she got just the person she deserved"), hardships created by the family's finances (paying support, or not receiving it).

20. Ask children "Where do you want to live" or in any way manipulate children's loyalties. Avoid leading children to believe that the outcome of custody and visitation hinges on their preferences, comfort, etc.

21. "Grill" the children when they return to you after spending time with the other parent. Children are extremely sensitive to clues parents give off based on fear of what might have happened at the other parent's home, and hatred of the other parent (or the other parent's new significant other).

CHILDREN HAVE A NEED FOR CONTINUOUS CONTACT WITH BOTH PARENTS. CHILDREN DO BEST WHEN THEY KNOW THEY CAN GIVE AND RECEIVE LOVE TO AND FROM BOTH PARENTS WITHOUT FEELING DISAPPROVAL FROM EITHER PARENT.

GUIDELINES FOR SEPARATING PARENTS

1. Develop a workable plan that gives children access to both parents.

2. Keep ongoing contact with the children so they don't feel rejected or abandoned.

3. Continue reassuring children they can count on both parents.

4. Guard against canceling plans with children.

5. Establish a home for the children with a place for their belongings (toys, clothes, etc.) with both parents.

6. Maintain telephone contact with the children.

7. Have children ready in time for the other parent.

8. Be home on time to welcome the children for visitation.

9. Keep parental communication lines open.

10. Have separate clothes, toys, seasonal needs, bikes, and games. Minimize or eliminate back and forth commotion between two households.

11. Conduct exchanges at neutral locations. Avoid exchanges at one another's homes when parent conflict is high.

12. Distribute parental responsibilities, such as helping children with homework, working on projects for school or fun, and enforcing chores.

13. Honor all terms of visitation, shared time, exchanges.

14. Keep one another promptly informed of children's medical status, doctor visits, prescriptions (dosage, etc), school progress, developmental milestones (first menstrual period, etc).

15. Exercise caution and good judgment re: children's bathing, tickling, and applying topical ointments to genital areas, giving enemas, sleeping in the same bed, showering together.

16. Safely secure "adult magazines, videotapes, birth control devices. Lock up all guns.

17. Establish time for children to be available to talk to the other parent on the phone. Especially with young children, and in the opening months of divorce, make a priority to allowing your children frequent phone access to the absent parent.

18. Help young children reduce "separation anxiety" by allowing pictures of the other parent. Even better is a videotape of the other parent at home, going about everyday routines.

19. Be extremely cautious in taking what children (especially young ones) say about the other parent, and what goes on in that parent's household, at face value. Children exaggerate, fabricate, misinterpret, can confuse fantasy with fact, and "play" to parents' fear and angers.

20. Negotiate as far in advance as possible (several weeks if possible) for modifications of weekend schedules, holiday times, and summer vacations. Follow through faithfully in honoring all such negotiated agreements.

21. Acknowledge your child's stated emotional reactions to the other parent (or stepparent), without "buying into" the child's story: "You sure hate it when your dad gives you a "time out" versus "I'm so sorry your dad is such a jerk to you; no wonder you get so upset when the time comes for you to go there."

Avoid Losing Child Custody in Divorce

What should I do to maximize my position regarding child custody in a divorce action?


That is a frequently asked question and there are some programs for you to best position your case if there is a contest custody dispute.

Some pointers to realize are when you are in a contested custody situation or anticipate there is going to be a contest custody dispute to follow and those are as follows:

1. Have you been the primary caretaker?  Typically one parent is the most responsible for the basic needs of a child in a relationship.  That can be defined as the “primary caretaker”.  In other words, who is the parent most involved in the child’s daily life, including doing their homework, feeding the child, bathing the child, reading to the child, taking the child to school and picking the child up, taking the child to the doctor, etc.    Those parents who are more involved can sometimes be considered the primary caretaker and that given them an advantage in a custody trial.

2. Are you involved in the child’s extracurricular activities and school activities?  That is an important detail. Question yourself if you are involved in their extracurricular by taking them to practice or by going to their games.  Question whether or not you are taking them to the doctor and if you know the names of the doctors and dentists. Question whether or not you know the names of the school teachers and the names of the coaches for their extracurricular activities.  If you can answer affirmatively to these different areas, then the court is more inclined to follow the belief that you are the primary caretaker as the court many times wants to maintain a status quo or stability in the environment of the child.  If you have no involvement in the children’s education or extracurricular then the court is going to question and you may end up with a visitation schedule that may be limited to alternating weekends.  If you are not involved, get involved.  In the end, that will help significantly in your position of the case but it will also help the relationship with the child or children.

3. Is there a question regarding the parental fitness?  What is meant by this is there a substance abuse issue or an alcohol issue that the once spouse will say that the other spouse spends their extra time away from work drinking or having a substance abuse problem.  Judges take these issues of substance abuse extremely seriously and they can impose random drug testing or ask for psychological evaluations that will involve interviews with various witnesses.

4. Have there been issues of domestic violence?  The statute makes it clear that if there is a domestic violence restraining order against the spouse that creates a rebuttable presumption that it would not be in the child’s best interest to award custody to the parent that is perpetrating the domestic violence.  If in fact there is domestic violence and you have a restraining order against you, you need to follow the requirements to overcome the presumption and that includes among other things to attend batterer’s or anger management classes.  The code also talks about other factors but it is important to recognize that a domestic violence issues is very serious as it relates to all aspects of your case including custody.

5. If not a domestic violence, physical confrontations create problems.  Physical
confrontations between the parties/spouses, regardless of whether or not the physical confrontations result in domestic violence is extremely detrimental to the children and especially if they are present.  If there are problem of anger issues, it is important to maintain composure and truly act as an adult by walking away from the confrontation. The end result can be significant.

6. Do you have a paper trail that could be used against you?  A paper trial is any type of hard copy of written communication between you and other spouse.  If you have text messages or emails where you are disparaging or denigrating the other parent, you can rest assured that the other attorney representation that spouse will mark those as an exhibit and will have those, or at least attempt to have those, admitted into evidence if that attorney can lay the proper foundation.  If there is an email where the dialog between the parents has nothing to do with the benefit of the child (if it is condescending or disparaging) the judges look very suspicious on such conduct because they believe that kind of conduct may carry over to the treatment of that parent when alone with that child and that is never good parenting.

7. Is there any disparagement with the other parent?  Judges look favorably when parents promote their relationship with the other parent.  A parent who  constantly puts the other parent down is disfavored.  That negative attitude about the other parent does not win you points with the judge when that judges has to consider which parent to place the child.  In essence, you need to show the fact that as a parent you recognize the importance of the other parents relationship with the child.

8. Is there anything positive to say about the other parent?  A common question asked by psychotherapists, psychologists appointed by the court to make recommendations of custody pertains to whether or not there is anything positive that can be said about the other parent as a person and as a parent.  If you cannot answer that question in some affirmative fashion, the court shall not look favorably on you as a parent. Remember, the dynamics involving the parenting of a child with a separate home is incredible intense.  The dynamics involved in the relationships between the beginning of the relationship and the time when there is the separation creates an automatic conflict and it is important to remove yourself from completely being negative and contemplate the components of the other parent’s relationship.  A parent that can only say about the other parent that they “love their child” is a parent that may not be able to maintain custody.

9. Should I maintain composure?  It is critical to maintain good judgment and
self-control if you want to prevail in custody.  If you cannot show the judge that you have good judgment and that you can teach your child the difference between right and wrong, the difference in disobeying and obeying laws and rules, the ability to teach a child the priorities of respect, the ability to teach a child to be a functioning citizen, you will have problems being awarded custody of a child.  There are occasions at a trial when the emotions are at their maximum, where on cross-examination a parent becomes outrages and loses his/her composure on the witness stand.  Those outbursts on the witness stand and while under the microscope of a judge have significant results and the consequences are dire.  Remember that the judge is observing you as a witness.  That judge does not know you, will never know you again and is only looking at you for the first time while you are on a witness stand, placed under oath.    The scrutiny while you are under cross-examination carries great weight to a judge when that judge in the limited fashion that that judge has to determine custody is asked to make a decision.  If he/she finds that a spouse cannot control themselves in a courtroom, how is that person supposed to control themselves outside in the real world when they have to teach their child the rights and
wrongs of life?

Following your attorney’s advice will maximize your position in the case.  There is a maxim that says the essence of law is logic because logic is based upon reasonable people because reasonable people do reasonable things.  Remember that most of the things that happen in a courtroom are the same types of things that happen in life.  It is a microcosm of your life.  With that said, if you think through a fact pattern logically, you are doing the same thing a judge will do.  The only difference is the judge is thinking and analyzing from a logical standpoint and that judge is applying the laws the affect the fact pattern.  Much of what the law is predicated is logic.  Therefore, when you attorney give you advice, try to follow that advice and if you do, you will maximize your possibilities of obtaining the expectations you are after.

How Do I Prepare for Mediation in a Custody Dispute

Preparation with your attorney is especially important in all phases of your case, but one such event involves the mediation process in a custody case.  How to prepare could be critical in your case.  Here are some tips that you may find helpful.

Family Code section 3170 authorizes the mediation of custody and visitation matters.  More than half of the counties in California have a confidential counseling session and the other half is non-confidential.  The difference in confidential versus non-confidential is that in a non-confidential county what is said and what is done in the mediation conference can be reported in some manner to the court and the mediator can make recommendations to the court.  It is for that reason that a conference with the attorney is critical in helping you prepare.

Some of the tips for mediation are as follows:

1. Enter into the mediation with the intent to try and settle your custody case, but do not feel forced into reaching a settlement just to please the counselor.  The counselor will probably spend no more than an hour if that with you and the other party (the parents).  That mediator depending on the county may not even have read any of the declarations or pleadings.  For that reason that mediator will not be able to examine fully the circumstances surrounding your particular situation.  Therefore it is important that you be prepared to submit your agenda to that mediator to best position yourself for a settlement.

2. Create a timeshare plan that you feel represents the best for the child(ren). Include that you propose this timeshare on a 24/7 calendar.  Essentially you need to be able to tell the mediator what you feel the best timeshare is for the child(ren) and why you believe that that is best for the child(ren).  Include in that timeshare proposal not only why you think it is best for the child(ren), but how you will facilitate the plan 24/7.

3. Take with you to the mediation in a separate folder all of the sworn declarations that raise the issue of custody, both yours and the opposing party’s. Be able to identify any particular allegations.

4. List all of your concerns about the other party’s parenting.

5. NEVER say to the mediator that there is nothing positive about the other parent in the mediation. This is a sure fire way to get on the wrong side of the mediator.

6. ALWAYS keep your composure during the mediation. Obviously there is a lot of anxiety that goes into being in a room with the other party.