Tag Archive for: child custody battles

“How much will my custody case cost?” is a question I hear over and over.  I don’t know is the answer.  If things go well, if both parents and attorneys are reasonable, and you are lucky, the cost may be below my initial retainer of $5,000 and you will get a refund. If you get into litigation, your fees could be two or three times that, or even more.  The sky really is the limit.

Witness the Toronto case known as M. and F.  The mother alleged that the father was not entited to overnight visits with their six year old son because he had been violent toward her.  That made him, according to the mother, unsafe to be alone with the child. The mother owns a successful insurance brokerage.  The father is a lawyer.

The trial lasted 34 days. Then the case went to the Ontario Court of Appeal.  In the end, the father won.  The court ordered the mother to pay $540,000 of the father’s legal fees.  The total amount of legal fees spent by the two parents was over two million dollars.

“The kids need haircuts!” were the first words Michael said when he walked into the library conference room for the mediation with his lawyer.

“I’d get them one if you would pay some child support!” shot back Sandy, his estranged wife, who was already seated in the conference room with her lawyer.

Before the exchange could heat up any more, retired Judge O’Malley, dressed nattily in a tweed sport coat, looked up from his papers at the head of the conference table and peered over his reading glasses.

“Let me give both of you a tip,” he said in his slow, quiet voice that demanded attention.  “The court doesn’t like hysterical, angry witnesses.  If it’s a close call, and one party is hysterical and emotional and the other one is calm and rational, the judge is usually going to go with the one that’s calm.”

Scott Dekraai, 41, allegedly walked into the beauty salon where his ex-wife worked and killed her and seven other people yesterday in Seal Beach, California.  They were involved in a bitter custody battle over their 8 year old son.

I think there is a rage reaction lurking in all of us.  Most of us keep it under control.   But emotions are strong and they can overwhelm logical thinking.

I’ve had clients who have let their anger involve them in domestic violence.  I’ve had clients who have directed their anger inwardly and tried to commit suicide.  When I asked them why, they said something like “I don’t know.  I just snapped.”

My advice?  No matter what happens in your divorce, get control of your anger.  And have a big flashing neon sign in the back of your mind that says “The best revenge is living well.”