Using GPS to Track Your Spouse During Divorce – Forbidden or a Free-for-all?

cell phone tracking and gps trackingUsing GPS to track your spouse during divorce – or tracking them via their cell phone – is a relatively new thing. Beware however, digitally tracking your spouse is a legally dicy deed.

If you think your spouse is digitally sleuthing you, there are some things you can do.

Using GPS to track your spouse – forbidden, frowned upon, or a free-for-all? 

This month marks the five year anniversary of the first Supreme Court Case to address protection of our privacy rights against digital age government intrusion. In that case, the government used GPS without a warrant to track a suspected drug dealer. The Supreme Court decided government use of GPS tracking is a “search,” that triggers Constitutional protections of our privacy.

However, when two private citizens are involved (like using GPS to track your spouse), and there’s no government action at issue, the rules are different. Sometimes those rules aren’t so clear.

To track or not to track? 

In a Nebraska divorce case or other Nebraska family law case, (or in criminal court) the Judge is likely to view recording sound or images of people differently than only tracking whereabouts of a vehicle.

Not long ago, a Nebraska woman involved in a domestic relations case sewed a recording device into her four-year-old child’s teddy bear. As a result, the court ordered her to pay quite a bit of money in damages, plus attorney fees and costs, for violating her ex-husband’s privacy.

Clearly, if you’re considering using GPS to track your spouse, or tracking your spouse via their cell phone, you should consult with an attorney. Ideally, that attorney should have deep experience in both family and criminal law. Here at Hightower Reff, we practice in both areas of law – family law and criminal law. That means when a client’s question crosses practice area boundaries, we can give them a quick, knowledgeable answer.

Ownership is key

In general, in Nebraska, if you’re thinking of installing a GPS unit on a vehicle to track the vehicle’s movements, make sure your name is on the title. If you’re thinking of using an app for cell phone tracking, make sure it’s through a device on your account.

In Nebraska, you could also hire a private investigator to do spousal surveillance for you. Most PI’s in Nebraska use electronic surveillance after they’ve watched the subject enough to establish a pattern of behavior.

If there’s a protection order against you however, paying someone else to follow your ex for you isn’t likely to play well with a Judge (to say the least).

Foreseeable fails 

Beware – using GPS to track your spouse during a divorce (or otherwise) could put you in hot water. Depending upon the situation between you and your spouse, and how you go about monitoring his or her movements, you could run afoul of harassment or stalking laws.

Additionally, if there’s a protection order in place against you, tracking of any sort is an automatic no-go.

Also, emotions are often intense during a divorce. If your spouse finds out what you’ve been up to, your digital detective work may make bad feelings between you and your soon to be ex-spouse even worse.

Tracking cost-benefit analysis

Another thing to consider if you’re thinking of using GPS to track your spouse, or tracking them via their cell phone, is whether the value of information you may get is likely to be worth the risk. If you’re considering using the information in court during your divorce or other family law case, talk to your attorney about whether it’s likely to be admissible.

Consider also that, even if the Judge lets in the evidence, you could be the one who comes out looking the worst. It may appear that you have control issues, are unreasonable – or you’re just a jerk.

All states aren’t the same

Keep in mind that Nebraska law is different from laws of some other states, so this information may not apply elsewhere. Also, whether tracking or surveillance of a certain nature is legal can change depending on what, if anything, is recorded.

It’s always best to consult with a trusted attorney licensed in your jurisdiction before you do something that may get you in hot water. This is especially true when it comes to something that could have criminal penalties – like GPS or cell phone tracking or surveillance.

Protecting your own digital privacy during divorce – what you can do

While you’re considering going modern-day Inspector Gadget, your spouse may have already beat you to the electronics store (or website, or app store.. or to your phone). But there are some things you can do to protect your privacy from digital disruption during your divorce.

 

If you think you’ve been tracked (digitally or otherwise), tell your lawyer. She or he can ask written questions of opposing counsel to find out whether your spouse or anyone acting for them has used cell phone tracking or monitoring, GPS, or the services of an investigator.

If you find out your spouse or someone acting for them hired an investigator, your lawyer should subpoena the investigator and get every last bit of information they’ve dug up about you. If your spouse un-truthfully denies hiring an investigator, they can’t use any information from the investigator in court.

 

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 


For details about the author, Hightower Reff Attorney Scott Hahn, visit his profile page.

More information about Hightower Reff’s divorce practice is available here.

If you need help with a Nebraska divorce, contact Hightower Reff Law today and visit one of the attorneys at the Omaha office. 

Divorce Temporary Hearings – You Should Know This (Infographic)

divorce-temporary-hearingDivorce temporary hearings can be intimidating. Let’s face it – the entire divorce process can be intimidating. Arming yourself with information and having good support can make it a lot less so.


Hightower Reff Law is a team of confident, clear, committed attorneys representing clients in the Omaha metro and surrounding areas in family law and criminal defense/dui.


Our Divorce Temporary Hearings infographic fills you in on some basics about divorce temporary hearings.  If you’re going through a divorce or thinking about filing for divorce, this may help make the process more clear – and maybe less daunting.

 

You may have heard the saying “good fences make good neighbors.” At Hightower Reff Law, our team of divorce attorneys has many years of experience in all kinds of marital dissolution cases. From complicated, high asset divorces with children and family owned businesses, to cases involving domestic violence, as well as simple divorces with no children – we’ve done it. Our diverse experience has taught us that, no matter the case, a temporary court order detailing the rights and responsibilities of both parties during the divorce is an important “fence” to put in place.

 

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 


For details about the author, Hightower Reff Attorney Scott Hahn, visit his profile page.

More information about Hightower Reff’s divorce practice is available here.

If you need help with a Nebraska divorce, contact Hightower Reff Law today and visit one of the attorneys at the Omaha office. 

Need to Change a Nebraska Custody or Child Support Order? 4 Things You Need to Know

4thingsaboutmodificationhrlawAt Hightower Reff Law in Omaha, Nebraska, we often meet with clients who come in confused about what to do when their parenting plan isn’t working for them anymore and they need to change a Nebraska child custody order or change a Nebraska child support order.

Sometimes when a child support or child custody decree that was entered in the past doesn’t work anymore, there is something you can do about it. In some cases, you can change or modify custody. It’s called — simply enough — a modification case.

1.  No Magic…but Some Musts 

There’s really no magic number of months or years to wait to try a change a Nebraska child custody order. However, to convince a court to modify a domestic relations order, your case has to meet some basic criteria:

  • The child domestic relations order has to be a final order (temporary orders can’t be modified)
  • There  material change in circumstances that:
  • happened after the entry of the original decree or any previous modification, and
  • was not contemplated when the decree or last order of modification was entered
  • If it’s an order of child support, Nebraska law considers a material change in financial circumstances to be:
    • One that results in a change of 10 percent or more, but not less than $25, upward or downward, of the current child support obligation, child care obligation, or health care obligation

and

2. The Why’s Matter 

If the parent’s income is lower when the original order was entered, the court will look at the reason for the reduction and whether it was in bad faith if the parent did it on purpose in a Nebraska child custody modification case. The biggest consideration, however, is best interests of the child.

In addition to financial issues, the court will also consider other circumstances of the parties or the child – like  health –  when it’s as a material change in circumstances for modifying Nebraska child support.

3. Other Orders/Issues that may be Able to be Modified:

  • parenting time
  • spousal support
  • removal of the child from the jurisdiction if a parent wants to relocate with the child

4. Orders From Elsewhere 

If  a court in another state entered the Nebraska child support order in question, you may be able to modify it in Nebraska.

That’s a question of jurisdiction that will need to be addressed after an in-depth consultation with an experienced attorney, like those at Hightower Reff Law, because whether you are likely to be successful in your attempt to change your Nebraska child support or child custody order can change in your based upon small changes in fact.

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 


For details about the author, Hightower Reff  Attorney Scott Hahn, visit his profile page at our main website.

To learn about Hightower Reff’s Family Law Practice, visit our main website.

Domestic Violence and the Military: What to Know if It Happens to You

shutterstock_363338615-thumb-500x334-68160Sara Palin’s son Track’s recent arrest for domestic violence related charges has put the issue of veterans and domestic violence in the headlines. The Palin camp says that the army vet’s service in Iraq resulted in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which contributed to the issues that led to the incident.

Whether PTSD or something else is truly the major contributing factor to Track Palin’s problems, one thing is clear. Domestic violence among our active military and veterans is a problem…and an underreported one at that.

Getting help in a domestic violence situation can be frightening and humiliating for anyone. For members of our military and their significant others, the stakes are high and the issues can be even more complicated.

Reasons Military Domestic Violence May Go Unreported

In military domestic violence cases, it could be the abuser’s career at stake, which makes some victims reluctant to report. In many military families, the service member is the sole source of support for the family, so the fear of losing that income can be daunting.

Also, military life is unique. Many families move from base to base, sometimes in foreign countries. This can lead to a feeling of isolation that adds to the fear of reporting for survivors.

Get Help and Know Your Options 

The military offers its own set of resources to address domestic violence, including the Family Advocacy Program (FAP). Family advocates are specifically trained to help survivors deal with domestic violence.

There are two options for reporting domestic violence to the military during service: restricted and unrestricted. In restricted reporting, military command and law enforcement are not notified. A restricted report starts with contacting an FAP supervisor, clinician, victim advocate or a health care provider and requesting a “restricted report.” However, those that may be considered at “imminent risk of serious harm” cannot use the restricted report option and it can’t be used in child abuse cases.

After the restricted report is started, the survivor can access victim advocacy services including help in developing a safety plan to prevent further abuse, information about military and civilian protective orders, an escort to meetings, medical and court appointments and information about military and civilian medical, legal and community resources.

The other option is unrestricted reporting, which includes investigation of the abuse and military command involvement. This option can mean added support and protection to the reporting survivor. It can also mean military administrative action against the offender.

If a victim decides to make an unrestricted report, a FAP advocate will help them make a report to civilian law enforcement.

Military spouses who are victims of domestic violence also have all of the traditional means of help available to them – they can report to civilian law enforcement or they can get help at any of the civilian options available to non-military families.

Don’t Go It Alone

If you have questions about your legal options in any domestic violence situation, having an initial consultation with a lawyer trained in this area of the law can be a very helpful support.

When looking for an attorney, be sure they know family law and are aware of the special legal issues involved in military cases of domestic violence and family law.

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 

Male domestic violence survivors

Domestic violence brings can bring to mind an image of a woman with bruises and black eyes. While this is one face of domestic violence, there are others. Some of them – more than you may think – are male domestic violence survivors.

According to a Centers for Disease Control survey, more than 1 in 4 men will be victims of intimate partner abuse during their lifetimes.

Getting help in a domestic violence/intimate partner abuse situation can be frightening and humiliating. As an attorney who’s worked in this specialized field of law for nearly a decade, I’ve found that embarrassment can be especially intense for male survivors.

If you’re a man experiencing intimate partner abuse, know that there are attorneys who are sensitive to your circumstances and will listen to you. Also, the law is here to protect ALL survivors of domestic violence – male and female.

Nebraska Criminal Domestic Assault Statutes are Gender Neutral

Nebraska law recognizes domestic assault as a separate crime from other forms of assault. Additionally, the language of the statute does not require that there be an actual physical injury for a domestic assault to have happened. In certain situations, threats can be enough.

This law is drafted the way it is in recognition of the fact that domestic abuse takes many different forms – from threats and intimidation to physical assault with weapons or other things that cause injury.

Nebraska Family Law Statues Offer Protection for Male Domestic Violence Survivors 

Nebraska Family Law Statues include the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act. The Act protects all victims of domestic violence and is intended to provide services to help deal with its trauma.

As its name indicates, the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act also provides protection from domestic abuse in the form of protection orders and penalties for violating them.

Domestic abuse protection orders can prohibit an abuser from “threatening, restraining, assaulting, molesting, attacking or otherwise disturbing the peace” of his or her victim. The orders can also forbid phone calls and all forms of contact, remove an abuser from the place where the victim lives and provide for temporary custody of children, among other things.

Emergency Protection Orders 

A traditional protection order requires that the alleged perpetrator be given notice and the opportunity to appear at a hearing to defend themselves against the proposed order. However, the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act allows for emergency protection orders where the victim can show they are in immediate danger of abuse.

These emergency hearings, during which only the survivor is present, are called “ex-parte” hearings. If the court refuses to issue a temporary, ex-parte emergency protection order, it will schedule a hearing where both sides have the chance to present evidence. If the alleged abuser doesn’t show up for that hearing or shows up and fails to convince the court, the court will issue the protection order.

If the court agrees to enter a temporary protection order, the order will remain in effect while the court allows time for the accused to be served with the order and to appear and defend themselves against the protection order continuing.

Once the alleged abuser is served with the ex-parte protection order, it can go several ways:

  • If the alleged abuser is served with the protection order, but doesn’t contact the court to request a hearing within 5 days of being served, the temporary order becomes a final order for one year.
  • If the alleged abuser does request a hearing within 5 days of being served, but  doesn’t show up for the hearing, the order also becomes final for one year.
  • If the alleged abuser requests the hearing within the required time period, and then shows up for the hearing, the court will hear evidence from both sides and decide if the protection order should stand.

When Children are Exposed to Domestic Violence

Along with recognizing that men are sometimes the victims of domestic violence, Nebraska law also recognizes that children exposed to that domestic violence are affected – regardless of who is the victim and who is the abuser.

The law says that both parents are responsible for protecting children from the physical and psychological trauma of domestic violence. This means getting the children out of environments where they’re exposed to domestic violence.

Parents who fail to keep their children out of harm’s way when it comes to domestic violence may lose custody. This could mean the children are placed in foster care – with strangers or with a relative. Whether you’re mom or dad, if you’re a victim of domestic violence and your kids are exposed to it, you’re putting your children and your parental rights at risk.

Protecting Children When you Leave

Regardless of your gender, it’s crucial to take steps to protect your children when you leave a domestic violence situation. That means getting protective orders and custody orders in place. An attorney who knows the ins and outs of the legal and safety issues involved is an important support.

The Nebraska Parenting Act has special provisions for developing Parenting Plans in custody cases involving domestic violence. In all custody cases, specially trained mediators are required to screen for domestic violence. If they determine that domestic violence is an issue, they may find that mediation isn’t appropriate, or that another form of specialized dispute resolution is advisable during which a parenting plan with appropriate protections can be developed and agreed upon by both parties.

If mediation is not an option, or not successful, and the court has to develop a parenting plan in a domestic abuse case, the plan will include provisions to protect the child and/or the child’s parent from further harm.

Don’t Go It Alone

Hightower Reff has a team of attorneys experienced in the specialized issues and procedures that come with domestic abuse cases.

From the criminal end to protection orders and family law and custody issues, we can help. One of our lawyers would be glad to meet with you to talk about how we can help with your case.

Call the office at 402-932-9550, or contact us and make an appointment to come visit with us about your case at our downtown Omaha, Nebraska office.  Don’t go it alone.

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 


For details about the author, Hightower Reff Attorney Scott Hahn, visit his profile page.

More information about protection orders is available here. 

 

Must Have Information on Child Custody: Joint vs. Sole Custody – What it Means

shutterstock_18287620Going through a child custody case can be tough for parents, especially if you’re in the dark about Nebraska child custody law.

In this series, Must Have Information on Child Custody, we’ll take some of the mystery out of the law and give you information you need about child custody in Nebraska.

This week, attorney Scott Hahn deciphers joint vs. sole custody under Nebraska Law.

The Definitions 

When we talk about child custody, we’re talking about two different kinds of custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody means who has physical possession of the child; legal custody means who has decision making power on the child’s behalf. Both kinds can be joint or sole.

Joint legal custody means the parents share in all legal decision making for the child and must agree, unless the order contains a provision that, in an impasse, one party will have final say. It can be argued, however, that such a provision, in effect, converts the order to one of sole legal custody.

Sole legal custody means only one parent has legal decision making rights for the child, except in cases of medical emergency when the child is with the non-custodial parent. In that circumstance, the non-custodial parent may make medical decisions for the child.

Joint physical custody means split time – or close to it. The cut off is whether each party’s parenting time exceeds 142 days a year. Generally, to be considered a “day” the parenting time includes an overnight stay.

Sole physical custody means one parent has the majority of the time with the child. In a sole custody arrangement, the non-custodial parent typically has what is referred to as “Wilson” visitation, which means every other weekend, alternating holidays, and one week night visit that does not include an overnight.

What will the Judge Decide?

Under Nebraska law, the judge cannot favor one parent over the other in custody decisions based solely upon that parent’s gender. The judge is to base the custody decisions on the child’s best interests, a subject we covered in detail in an earlier article. That article provides great information on the specifics that the judge takes into consideration when making a custody determination.

If you and the other parent can decide the custody arrangements between yourselves through mediation or negotiation with the help of your lawyers, you will be better off in the long run. In most cases parents who decide their own custody and parenting time arrangements have more success with co-parenting long term.

Regardless of whether parents have joint or sole custody, each parent will still have the right to access the child’s educational and medical records.

How Custody Affects Financial Support

If each parent’s time exceeds 142 days per year, Nebraska Law says the court must use the joint custody calculation worksheet. That means child support for the parent receiving support will be reduced from what it would have been in a sole custody situation.

Reasonable and necessary direct expenses such as clothes and extracurricular activities are split between the parents according to the percentage of each parent’s child support contribution. In other words, if one parent pays 30 percent of the child support table amount, and the other parent pays 70 percent, they will respectively pay the same percentages of direct expense for the child.

On the other hand, if either parent is awarded sole physical custody, there is not a separate provision for direct expenses. Instead, the parent with sole physical custody is expected to pay for those expenses out of their child support award.

How It’s Put on Paper

Whether the judge makes the decisions in your case about custody and parenting time or you and the other parent decide through mediation or negotiation, the specifics must be put into a written parenting plan that complies with Nebraska law and is approved by the court.

Once the judge approves and signs the parenting plan, it is considered an order of the court and willful violation is punishable in contempt proceedings.

Don’t Go It Alone

Hightower Reff has a team of experienced child custody attorneys, as well as a trained, certified mediator. One of our lawyers would be glad to meet with you to talk about how we can help with your case.

Call the office at 402-932-9550, or contact us online and make an appointment to come visit with us about your case during an initial consultation.  Don’t go it alone.

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 

Must Have Information on Child Custody 
Part III: Parental Unfitness

shutterstock_87396635Going through a child custody case can be tough for parents, especially if you’re in the dark about Nebraska child custody law.

In this series, Must Have Information on Child Custody, we’ll take some of the mystery out of the law and give you information you need about child custody in Nebraska.

This week, Hightower Reff attorney Scott Hahn explores parental unfitness under Nebraska Law and what it could mean for your child custody case.

Defining Unfitness in Child Custody Cases

In every custody case, the judge is first required to make a finding regarding the fitness of both parents. However, Nebraska statutes don’t define parental unfitness when it comes to custody cases. Attorneys and Judges have to look to law made by other cases to determine what it means.

Under Nebraska case law, parental unfitness in a child custody case means “a personal deficiency or incapacity which has prevented or will probably prevent, performance of a reasonable parental obligation in child rearing and which has caused, or probably will result in, detriment to a child’s well being.” Ritter v. Ritter, 234 Neb. 203 (1990). Fleshing out what that means in human terms takes a bit more analysis.

It’s helpful to look at what unfitness probably is and what it probably isn’t. It’s best to say “probably” because the judge has a lot of discretion when it comes to weighing evidence in a fitness determination. Each case is different and a small turn of facts can make a big difference in the court’s decision.

What Unfitness Probably Is

Figuring out many of the behaviors that could prevent someone from doing what they need to do as a parent or result in harm to a child’s well being is an exercise in common sense. Some of the most common include: excessive drinking in the presence of the child or drinking that impairs a parent’s daily functioning, failure to take care of a child’s basic needs and physical or verbal abuse of the other parent in front of the child.

The more egregious behaviors are, the more likely it is that they will lead to a finding of unfitness. Things like illegal drug use in the presence of the child, or being under the influence of illegal drugs in the child’s presence, sexual behavior in front of the child, or committing a violent felony are all likely to weigh heavily against a parent in the court’s fitness determination.

What Unfitness Probably Isn’t

As much as you might feel some of your spouse’s behaviors make him or her a dirtbag, those things don’t necessarily make for an unfit parent when it comes to child custody. The judge most likely won’t count marital infidelity, for instance, against a parent unless the child is present when it happens or is exposed to sexual activity.

Also, while things like failing to pack nutritious school lunches, failing to dress the child in weather appropriate clothes, or missing dance classes may weigh into the judge’s determination of best interests of the child when it comes to custody, it won’t add up to unfitness.

One thing that definitely does not determine parental fitness and must not weigh into the decision at all is gender. In Nebraska, a judge cannot consider gender in a determination of whether a parent is fit. Fathers and mothers are equal under the law in this regard.

What a Finding of Unfitness Means to You

If a Nebraska court finds a parent unfit in a child custody case, that parent will not be granted physical custody or legal decision making ability regarding their child. However, unless there is a separate action brought to terminate that parent’s rights, and rights are terminated, they still have certain basic rights.

Under Nebraska law, unless there is a termination of rights, and regardless of who has custody of the child, every parent is entitled to full and equal access to their child’s education and medical records and they may still make emergency decisions affecting the health or safety of the child while the child is in their care.

Cases Involving Allegations of Unfitness Require Experience

The law surrounding parental unfitness in Nebraska can be difficult. It takes experience to navigate this area of law successfully. Hightower Reff can help.

Call us at 402-932-9550, or contact us online, and make an appointment to come visit with us about your case during an initial consultation.  Don’t go it alone.

Next Time…

Watch for Part IV of our child custody series when we explore sole and joint custody.

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 

Must Have Information on Child Custody 
Part II: Five Popular Pointers For a Prosperous Parenting Plan

shutterstock_183002726-thumb-500x445-65282-thumb-400x356-65283Going through a child custody case can be tough for parents, especially if you’re in the dark about Nebraska child custody law.

In this series, Must Have Information on Child Custody, we’ll take some of the mystery out of the law and give you information you need about child custody in Nebraska.

This week, we discuss five popular pointers to help you come up with a parenting plan that will help your child prosper.

1.  It’s Not About You

This one is SO important, it should count for more than one pointer. It is critical. The parenting plan is not about you. It is about your child. If you remember nothing else, remember this.

It’s true that the parenting plan will affect your life until your child becomes a legal adult or unless/until it is modified by the court, and you have to be able to live with it – but the goal of the parenting plan is not to fulfill your needs, it is to fulfill your child’s needs. It must foster relationships between your child and BOTH parents.

This should be the focus during every phase of mediating or negotiating your parenting plan – not your feelings about the other parent or what he or she did to you or to contribute to the demise of your relationship.

2. Your Child is a Person, Not Property

Don’t dismiss this point as silly. Failing to remain actively conscious of the fact that your child is a person with needs and feelings is a common trap parents fall into during parenting plan negotiations.

We often hear parents talking about “my time,” or expressing the belief that they are entitled to parenting time that they want because they pay child support (which is not true). Both of these mindsets turn the focus onto the parent’s entitlement, not the child’s feelings or life. The parenting plan that you develop with the other parent with the help of a mediator or your attorney is about your child’s relationship with you and the other parent. It’s about the child’s life, not about entitlements to your child.

Changing your mindset and reminding yourself throughout the parenting plan process that it is about supporting your child as a person as he or she grows, not about your ownership of or entitlement to him or her, will help you reach your goals for your child.

3. It’s Not Always Going to go Your Way – and That’s Good

For a mediation or negotiation to be successful, there has to be give and take. The Parenting Plan process is no different.

We often tell our clients that the best agreement is one where both parties gave a little more than they wanted in some aspects, and got a little more than they wanted in others. Those are the agreements that last and that are livable.

If you are happy as a pig in a poke post parenting plan process, but the other parent has their knickers in a knot, the other parent isn’t likely to want to follow that plan for very long. Their lack of buy-in to the plan will probably manifest in lack of cooperation, combative attitude, and eventually a Petition to Modify custody and/or the Parenting Plan.

Giving up a little to make the other side happy – so long as it’s good for your child – can help you save yourself a headache in the long run.

4. Strong Fences Make Good Neighbors – Strong Parenting Plans Make Good Parents

A good, strong fence helps keep the peace between neighbors because its very presence creates and enforces a boundary. That’s what a Parenting Plan does too – it creates a sort of parenting fence.

Because the Parenting Plan is words on paper, rather than wood and nails, you must make sure those words are strong, just like wood. That means they must be clear. Everyone has to know and understand what they mean and know what will happen and when. If there isn’t clarity, there will be chaos.

In the case of a fence, the chaos is neighbors, their pets or children encroaching on one another’s property. In the case of a parenting plan, it’s late night phone calls to clarify plans, missed pickups or drop offs, last minute problems with holiday plans, and other myriad pains in the neck.

To avoid chaos, build a good parenting fence. Don’t agree to a Parenting Plan unless it is clear to you and you are sure it is clear to the other party.

5.  Don’t Go It Alone

As a trained, certified mediator, and an attorney who has focused for years on family law and child custody, I can help you through the child custody and Parenting Plan process.

Call my office at 402-932-9550, or contact us online and make an appointment to come visit with me about your case during an initial consultation.  Don’t go it alone.

Next Time…

Watch for Part III of our child custody series when we explore parental unfitness and what it can mean in a custody case

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts.