Interviewer: Okay. What’s the most common custody arrangement you see? Is it that the dad will get the most weekends or is it every other week? Is there any rhyme or reason to that and what typically happens?
Adam: To get a shared parenting plan together you each have to live at least somewhat close to the child’s school so their attendance isn’t disrupted.
Interviewer: Are there any preferred arrangements by the court?
Child Custody Options
Adam: As a matter of fact, I can’t think of a court that doesn’t have some type of parenting plan in place, usually referred to as a standard default order. So, they usually institute a plan where it’s every other week with other parent. Probably the most common is the standard local visitation parenting. That is where one parent has the child through the entire week. The non-custodial parent gets visitation during a weekday, typically on a Wednesday, and then they get to see the child every other weekend.
Interviewer: So one day a week and every other weekend, all weekend?
Adam: Right. That one day a week is probably going to be for 3 years. It’s going to depend on the age of the child, to a degree. Then there would be the standard long distance parenting, which would be where the long distance parent is just getting to see the child during the holidays, or when they’re on summer break from school.
Interviewer: It seem like the stakes are pretty high for custody. Is it more of an all or nothing situation? Because 3 hours on a weekday and every other weekend doesn’t seem like a lot; if you are a dad or a mom that’s pretty involved with your kids.
Adam: The stakes are kind of high. But then again, there’s always the chance that the parties can come to an agreement. An agreement would be where the parents can set arrangements, which are other than what the court says is a standard default order.
Interviewer: But if the parents are fighting and they can’t agree and they won’t agree, it sounds like the court is going to make a pretty lopsided arrangement. They’re going to default to that, is that right?
Adam: If they have to fall onto a default, yes. It could be the outcome must be that one of the parents doesn’t get to spend as much time with their children as they want.
Interviewer: How hard is it to get a pretty even split arrangement with an attorneys help? How hard is it for you to fight and win a much fairer agreement? Let’s say, one parent gets them 4 days a week, the other parent gets them 3 or one parent gets them every weekend, all weekend and the other parent get them all week?
Adam: How tough is the fight? Is that what you’re asking?
What Factors Can Determine Equitable Child Custody
Interviewer: Yes. If you have an attorney on your side is it a lot more likely you will get a fairer arrangement or is it still kind of tough to battle that out?
Adam: It can still be tough. Part of that is going to depend on who the custodial parent is at the time of the separation, and what factors might be in their favor. These factors would include being a good parent.
Interviewer: I see. I just wanted to get a sense of how much you are able to help.
Adam: It can make a difference. The wrong attorney can probably do some damage for the parent when you are trying to work out a favorable visitation allocation.
Interviewer: So, would you say because it seems pretty lopsided in terms of custody that it’s better for people to try to work it out instead of fighting it out?
Adam: Well, sometimes that’s just not going to happen and a lot of it is just going to depend on the parties. Even if the parties are fighting, and they can’t come to an agreement, it might be possible to at least move towards an equitable child custody arrangement.
Interviewer: Are you allowed to or do you encourage parents to talk things out? Or, you don’t step into that arena and you just do what they wish?
Adam: I don’t mind them talking. There are times when I don’t necessarily actively encourage it, especially if there’s some hostility. For example, if there’s been some direct violence or things like that or if they’re just both volatile individuals.
Interviewer: Okay. And backtracking a bit, what are the most common reasons people tell you why they want a divorce when they come to see you?
Reasons for Divorce
Adam: The two most common reasons are probably fear and incompatibility, where they have grown apart or are no longer in love, or there was an infidelity issue.
Interviewer: I see. When people come to you, what are they asking for? Do they usually say they want to tear the other person to pieces, or they just want to get away from them and be by themselves? What are people like? Are they hostile? Are they calm or a blubbering mess?
Adam: There’s a spectrum. It depends on the individual and what actually instigates the separation. So, it could be somebody who was very angry or sad, upset or someone who is just logical, unemotional.
Interviewer: Have you learned anything from people’s reasons and reactions to divorce? Are they divorcing for the reasons they’re telling you, or is it another reason they’re not telling you that you see? What kind of insight have you gotten into all these people sitting in front of you and telling you what the story is about divorce itself?
Adam: In my opinion, because divorce tends to be a little more emotional than most areas of practice, the clients tend to be more honest with their attorney.
Why Are Attorneys Also Known As Counselors?
Interviewer: I see. Do you have to resist the urge to be like their psychologist or bartender?
Adam: Well, the call us counselors for a reason, I guess. Part of it is you have to watch out for all their interests, including whatever they might be going through personally.
Interviewer: Do you suggest that people try marriage counseling or therapy when they’re considering a divorce to help them make better decisions?
Adam: Typically, they’ve already tried that or at least offered that to the other party prior to calling. That either hadn’t worked or the other person’s not willing to go to any kind of counseling, per se.
By Adam Hunt