Before I was a practicing attorney, I clerked for a District Court Judge. He presided over many divorce cases. Whenever a contested custody case was before him, he had a speech that he gave to the parties. It went something like this:
“I don’t love your children. (Dramatic pause). I will never love your children. I will never meet your children. It’s not in my job description to ever meet or love your children. There are two people in this room who love your children. Mom and Dad. Who better to determine the custody and parenting time for your children than the two people who love them most? Understand that if the two of you cannot determine what is best for your children, and I have to decide that issue, the decision is being made by someone who does not love your children.”
Every Judge probably has a similar version of this speech. It is essentially a pep talk designed to encourage people to settle their custody disputes. And it’s very true. To the Judge, your case is just another case. He/she will listen to the testimony, consider all the evidence, make a decision (eventually), and then go eat lunch. Just another day at the office. That’s not to say that they won’t try their very best to make the right decision. They probably will. But they do not have any investment in the outcome at all. Their job is to resolve disputes. That’s what they do. They don’t have to live with the outcome. You do.
So, consider this speech if you are in a contested custody case. Do you really want a total stranger making these important decisions for you? Is your relationship with your spouse really that bad that you can’t put your differences aside and make decisions for your kids that are in their best interests?
Sometimes you just can’t. I get it. Sometimes you just need someone else to make the decision for you, because you will never agree. Just remember who that person is, and don’t forget – they don’t love your children.
Meet Marc Beyer
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