Want to know how you can avoid many legal problems? What if I could tell you not only how to steer clear of the courthouse, but also how to avoid many life problems? Even better, and the reason you are reading this blog: How about a strategy with the potential to exponentially increase the odds of persuading a judge to award joint custody? Keep reading…
Listen to the Teacher!
I like to keep things simple. There are no extra points for over-complicating legal matters. One of my general themes is “don’t make it harder than it needs to be.”
When thinking about legal strategy, it is very easy to get lost digging through thousands of pages of statutes, case law, and countless secondary sources looking for that elusive strategy. True, you do have to know all of that stuff and there really is no way to get around that. But, that’s not really keeping things simple, is it? The way to keep things simple is to first look to alternative sources.
I thought what better place to look than to go back to the very beginning. In keeping with this theme, I visited with an elementary school teacher to talk about class rules. I had a couple of goals in mind: First, I was curious to see how things may have changed since I was there more than fifty years ago. Second, I wanted to see if anything taught in kindergarten could be significant enough that it could actually influence the outcome of even the most complex and high-conflict divorce and child custody litigation.
The Class Rules
Visit any elementary school and you will find a list of rules posted in the classroom. There can be some variation depending on the teacher and administration, but for the most part, it will look something like the following.
- Listen and follow instructions.
- Show up on time ready to work.
- One voice at a time.
- Respect each other and each other’s property.
- Keep your hands, feet, and objects to yourself.
- Speak politely and show good manners.
- Treat others as you would like to be treated.
Sounds simple, right? It’s certainly not rocket science. However, we all remember the few knuckleheads who never quite figured it out.
OK, So What Does Any Of This Have to Do With My Custody Case?
Damn Near Everything!!
If you want Joint Custody you have to demonstrate you can work with the other parent and co-parent. How do you co-parent? Simple, follow the class rules. Let’s walk through these and see how we can leverage the rules to have the best chance to get what you want in court.
- Listen and follow instructions: Listen to your attorney and follow their advice. Listen to the Judge and follow court orders. Understand and follow the provisions of the Automatic Temporary Injunction.
- Show up on time ready to work: Be on time for hearings, visitation exchanges, school conferences, appointments, and the child’s activities. There is no excuse for being late, period!
- One voice at a time: You don’t have to agree with the other parent, but you should listen to what they have to say if you want to present a joint custody case. Many times, when the other parent is talking, rather than listening, the other parent is instead thinking about what they are going to say next. A lot of conflict can be avoided by simply listening.
- Respect each other and each other’s property. The kids see how parents treat each other. If you want your kids to respect themselves and others, show respect to the other parent.
- Keep your hands, feet, and objects to yourself: Want to avoid domestic violence, many criminal charges, and VPO’s? Follow this simple rule.
- Speak politely, show good manners, and treat others as you would like to be treated: This pretty much says it all, no need to elaborate.
Co-parenting is a REQUIREMENT for a joint custody case. If you can’t co-parent, you don’t have a case appropriate for joint custody, period. Good luck getting any judge to order joint custody when the parents either can’t or won’t co-parent. Is that fair? Well, fair (actually fare) is what you pay to ride the bus, not how custody cases are decided. How do you co-parent? You listen to your kindergarten teacher.
Support our educators! Yes, your kindergarten teacher really did know best and she will save your ass in court if you listen and follow the class rules!
For information on family law topics of interest for both mother’s and father’s, check out our Oklahoma Divorce and Custody Lawyer Family Law Blog.
Pete D. Louden Updated: May 2, 2023
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