Wednesday, July 30, 2014
I Get the Orange; You Get the Peel
The hardest cases for us here in the Trenches are custody cases. How do you assign a value to time and the ability to make decisions for someone's child? The hardest custody cases are relocation cases, where one parent wants to move away from the area, of course with the child. Usually, I'm good at finding a compromise to meet both the parents' and the child's needs, but relocation cases don't lend themselves to that kind of compromise. On top of that, as much as I respect our judiciary, judges are not remarkably creative in fashioning custody schedules. They don't have the time to get to know everyone. They don't have time or the inclination to take everyone's needs and family traditions into account. They just make a decision. They give one parent primary custody and try to come up with some sort of long distance access schedule. Period.
The fact is, in a relocation case, someone has to move. There's usually no choice to stay. That means one parent will have the majority of the time with their child and the other will have less. It's a fact. The question is who decides where the child is when - the parents or the judge? We know what the judge will do. What about the parents? What if, just what if, the parents sat down and hammered out a schedule for each parent, let's call the schedules A and B. One parent would get the parenting time in schedule A and the other would get schedule B. They don't need to decide which parent gets which schedule, they just need to fashion the schedules themselves. They can let the judge decide which parent gets A and which gets B. Think about it. If the parents design both schedules without knowing which of them will get which, they each have an incentive to make sure both schedules are acceptable. They are both motivated to create schedules that work for each of them and their child because they don't know which one they will get. I've done it before, and it works, much better than a third party making those decisions. Here in the Trenches.