Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Properly Packing your Parachute - Effectively Proceeding through a Child Custody Case

At some point, most likely during your youth, following an injury, legal entanglement, or some other readily predictable and preventable calamity you took the opportunity to ruminate over the event and the precedent decisions. You may have lamented “I guess they were correct. I shouldn’t have done that.” There are some people who come to this realization -- or at least have those opportunities -- more often than others.

We are entertained by those who make those erroneous decisions leading to humorous tumult. The YouTube videos get millions of hits. There are weekly television programs dedicated solely to airing these exploits. We may experience the anxiety of a loved one who continually breaks the barrier of common sense. These are the people I call parachute stuffers. They have enough of a clue to steer toward some element of safety or precaution that allows them to live another day and face another challenge but not escape unscathed.

There is a proper way to pack a parachute. I don’t know how to do it and have no intention of learning to do so which is correlated to my interest if being airborne in a mechanical contraption. There are those people -- you may be one -- who, without knowledge or experience, blithely proclaim to know how to pack a parachute or just stuff it into the pack. Of course I am not speaking solely to skydivers or potential skydivers here but am drawing an analogy to preparation for any activity.

The level of research, practice, and other elements of preparation we give to any particular activity is generally commensurate with the relative risk/reward or cost/benefit analysis. Activities that have the potential to impact our health or immediate state of existence should be given greater weight in this area. Grocery shopping likely falls at the other end of the spectrum, as it should.

When it comes to a child custody proceeding it is my contention that much more often than not parents treat it more like grocery shopping than skydiving. Sure there are more numerous perfunctory tasks that have been performed in preparation for the big event. The documents were marshalled, witnesses have been advised, numerous attorney meetings have been attended, notebooks have been compiled and tabbed, the employer was notified of the hearing date, and a sufficient quantitative amount of sleep the night before was achieved. The deeper and greater need is the parent conditioning himself or herself to be a desireable parent in the view of the court and the children. This doesn’t take place the day before or starting the day the motion was filed. Rather, it should be an ongoing process initiated long before litigation was on the horizon and should continue indefinitely. It is also something, like packing a parachute, that is not innate but must be learned. To negate this is like completing all the preparation work for skydiving but not packing the parachute properly.

Skydivers may certainly be able to have a successful jump without properly packing the parachute. Parents may be able to succeed in making it through a child custody hearing. But for both, executing the jump is far less critical of a feat than mastery of the landing. A successful outcome to a child custody proceeding is one in which the parent has not only contemplated and prepared for the hearing and the court’s decision along with the basis for it but also the lifelong parent-child relationship. The successful outcome will be achieved by properly packing the parachute.

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