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Authored by Todd Burnham

5. Emotion

People are too emotional in custody battles and emotional reactions hurt cases.  I understand that this is very personal, and emotional, and scary.  I get all that.  My mother was a social worker and helped people daily.  We help people by achieving their goals with them… not by being their soundboards to life’s unfairness.

Mature, intelligent and responsible people don’t get reckless and emotional.  Mature, intelligent and responsible people get into therapy, and that helps them to win custody battles.

Yes, we are dealing with custody of your child, but it doesn’t give you a license to go off the rails.  People have to keep it together, especially when there is so much at stake.  Our clients are counseled about the importance of presenting as your best self.  There is a balance between being emotionally engaged and mature, and bring a rageful, scorned parent.  Judges are judging throughout the case.  Don’t send emails to your co-parent outlining how much they are failing as a parent and how superior you are in every category compared to them.


4.  No Strategy

There has to be a winning strategy or else you are going in a canoe downstream without any oars.  Who is the judge?  Who is opposing counsel?  What are our good/bad facts?  What experts are needed?  Do we have the financial resources to hire experts?  Do we have enough money to handle the case the right way?

You need a plan of action.  


3.  Mirror

A mistake people make in custody battles is their inability to look in their mirror and be honest with themselves.  It’s okay if you haven’t been the best version of yourself as a parent.  It’s possibly catastrophic  to your case if you cannot accept responsibility for your own decisions, actions and behaviors.


2.  Best Interests of the Child

Stating repeatedly how this situation impacts you, or how sad you feel, or how you aren’t sleeping, are facts that we don’t need to share with an expert or the court.  This is all about your child and her development, health, safety and welfare.  This isn’t about you getting more child support so you can buy that new car (unless it’s for the child).  Get your mind right.  Focus on the best interest factors.  Clean up your side of the street.  Focus on your child.


1.  Your Lawyer

The biggest mistake people make in custody battles is choosing, or staying with, a weak lawyer.  You are going to know within the first month if your lawyer is good.  You will know if she is strong and effective and has what it takes to win your custody battle.  

You have to invest in your case with your time and attention.  Choose the best lawyer within your budget, and ask questions, provide input, be an asset to your case.  Don’t stay with a lawyer who is angry, wants to fight everything or doesn’t communicate.  

If you hire the right lawyer, most if not all of the mistakes mentioned above are preventable.  If you hire the wrong lawyer or law firm, most if not all of the mistakes mentioned above will likely be made.