Thursday, February 24, 2011

Why the health of you and your attorney is important in child custody litigation

I've seen it said that the traits necessary for becoming a successful lawyer are education, concentration, logical thinking, and persuasive writing and speaking. I agree with all of these and contend that there is one additional that applies to the litigants also; good health. Nowhere do I feel this is more important than in a contested child custody action.

Not all attorneys and litigants can be blessed, or maybe cursed, with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. In an area where the stakes are so high and the divergent paths so vast it is necessary to have every available resource in your arsenal. Sharp thinking and the ability to concentrate on multiple disciplines, especially during trial, is a must.

While examining his witness, a litigator must be focused on eliciting the desired testimony while limiting the testimony for cross-examination. Conversely during cross-examination he must focus on correcting or reshaping the testimony and getting the witness to stumble if that witness is not favourable to his case. During all times he must be aware of the Rules of Evidence and be prepared to and make objections which will preserve the issue for appeal.

I have had trials where the entire day was spent questioning witnesses. In one case that should have gone quickly the opposing attorney kept complaining that I had the witnesses on for exhaustive periods of time. But that was an interrogation technique. Tire the witness and lull him into a comfort zone with almost mundane boring questions. Each of those questions contained a small element of the desired information which was asked in such a way as to not expose that desire. At the last moment the decisive question is asked and a response that contradicts the way it was answered when asked in other subtle ways earlier is given. In the end I got a police officer to commit perjury and revealed it in the line of questioning. It takes a sharp and alert mind to do that.

I am a runner and can equate it to running a marathon. Trial work is exhaustive. As the fifth, sixth, seventh hours roll by the body can tire and the brain can start to lose its focus. The two are intertwined. In the eighth hour it is just as important to be sharp and focuses as in the first. Anyone can take off from the starting line with a full burst of energy but its getting across the finish line with that same vitality and gusto that counts.

There are many health conditions that can impede the litigator. COPD, ARDS, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, pulmonary fibrosis, congenital heart disease and congestive heart failure. Additionally, some medicines can cause excess fluid in the lungs thereby reducing oxygen intake. Simply put, to function at its peak level the brain needs to be fully oxygenated.

But beyond just the moment of trial there are other considerations. A person who is not in peak condition is more susceptible to sickness or temporary infirmity from having a lowered immune response. This can result in delays in your proceedings or lack of adequate trial preparation.

People who have chronic health conditions may have medical appointments or flare-ups that can interfere with court schedules. These conditions may also be of such concern to the sufferer that they result in excessive worry which can interfere with the ability to concentrate on your case. Finally, the protracted existence of such conditions could lead to depression which could result in severe damage to your case.

Indiana Code 31-17-2-8 list one of the factors that a court must consider in a child custody decision which is the mental and physical health condition of the parties. Since it already must be considered by the court that is just another reason why you should be in optimum health when going into a child custody battle. If you have an attorney it is also important that he or she also be in optimum health.

To be effective you must have an advocate that is knowledgeable about child custody law such as myself. I take it further though. I also provide wellness training for clients both in and out of child custody litigation, am available 24 hours a day to calm those who are overwhelmed by anxiety, and shape the public persona for clients who will be appearing in court. Your life and that of your children are too important to not have you in optimum health.

If you would like assistance with your case, finding an attorney or even need comprehensive personal management of any or all aspects of your life that could affect child custody then please contact my scheduler to arrange an appointment.

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Parents who would like to achieve the best outcome for their children in a contested child custody case should visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me. Attorneys may request a free consultation to learn how I can maximize their advocacy for their clients.

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©2008, 2011 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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