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Divorced Dads Tips: Winning in Family Court - Yes, I Married Her "Your Honor" Strategy

Feb 25, 2008
DISCLAIMER: The following is NOT legal advice, nor is it a substitute for legal advice. If you are in Family Court you will need legal advice, so please see a lawyer.

Often, when a divorced dad goes to Family Court, he fails to realize the value of having a GREAT strategy comes down to POSITIONING.

In my experience, the best positions to be in are these:

(a) person who is no longer angry;
(b) person who is levelheaded;
(c) person who has not lost perspective; and/or
(d) person who still has a sense of respectful humour.

To assume any of these positions, first of all, you have to come to an acceptance of your role in the situation to begin with.

All successful fathers that I have ever met, and this will include me I raised two children as a single father, have to come to the recognition that you picked your wife and she picked you.

What does that say about both of you?

More often than not, you go in family court everyday and what you hear is she is crazy, he is crazy, he is no good, she is no good. The judge is up there going like "Gosh, it's only 10:30, what time does my golf game start? I am sick and tired of hearing this crap."

Then they think well, there is no golf in December if they live in the north where it's snowing so their mind wanders to something more pleasant. So begin with the presumption, especially if it's late in the day when you are before a Judge that they are tired and cranky from listening to people complain all day long, but rarely accept responsibility.

When you know what the truth of the matter is, you have got to be very, very clever and slowly but surely slicing and dicing your way when your are questioning other side's arguments. Help me to understand what it is that you are saying, help me to understand how that is to the best interest of the children, how does that all work?

My best suggestion - Go in there with the attitude "You know what, Your Honor? I picked her, she picked me, we have made a mess, here's how we can make it better, let's see if we can roll the peanut up the road a bit today.

The last part is for levity. To break the ice. BE careful though. Some Judges don't like levity. Attend Court and observe Judges. Study then learn to read your audience (the particular Judge you are in front of). Learn what they like and dislike and govern yourself accordingly.

Above all - advocate for the children. That means, do not be waging war. Instead, wage peace.

Here's how: Try and explain how things are good for the children. The judges do not care about what is good for you. Very often, many divorced dads feel the judges do not care what is good for the children. But I see in watching in court a good 50-60% of the time that the way things are expressed is all in terms of what it is GOOD FOR YOU as opposed to WHAT IS GOOD FOR THE CHILDREN. If you change the direction of your sales pitch to the Judge, and frame it in terms how it benefits the children that is going to be a major improvement to your game plan.

It comes down to what words are you using. How are you presenting it to the judge? Let's put it into an easy to understand context. Here are two example questions:

What do I do if my wife says no to Christmas? How can I enforce my court order to see my daughter during the holidays?

The fact is, if you do go into an emergency situation in front of a judge and say, "Can you please explain to me how this is of any benefit to my daughter that I do she won't have some time with me so we can share the spirit of Christmas together?", that is a totally different way of approaching it. Most people would be upset about the situation to the point of being angry in front of the Judge.

That's just allowing yourself to be set-up for your ex-wife for the kill. She'll be tearful in front of the Judge saying Who me? I'm not saying no, he's so angry your honor look at him now, can you see why I am afraid of him?

Got it? This happens so often to divorced dads you'd think they'd wake up to the shenanigans of their ex-wives. But many fall into this trap all of the time.

A better action step is understanding the terrain, having an accurate map. You have to go into Family Court and start learning the ropes. If you do not do that, then you do not have an understanding of really what is going on, how it is going on, the subtlety of the things that are going on, a lot of this is just going over your head.

You are making decisions based on the lack of knowledge rather than knowledge itself which brings us to step three, education, finding and emulating models of success. When you go into court, you are going to see dads that get fried and then you are going to see dads who get what it is that they are looking for.

If you watch this process, you are going to see judges making the same decisions again and again and again. So, if you go in there and watch and you find successful models, you have to take those strategies and begin adapting them to your situation. Go talk to lawyers who are winning for fathers.

Go talk to those fathers who are in there by themselves and winning on their own terms and sit there and watch how judges decide things. I am telling you, if you sit there for an entire day, by 2:00 in the afternoon you are going to be predicting probably with about 90% accuracy what the judges are going to do.

If you cannot make it to the courts all the time, I do recommend watching Judge Judy or any of the Judge Judy type of programs. It is a great start because you will start to be able to predict what is going to happen. It is amazing.

People are creatures of habit. They keep doing the same things again and again and again.

So, plan your victory. Understand how to corner and expose the truth.

Corner and expose the truth. What do I mean by that? I am going to presume that all of you at one time or another stole a cookie out of the cookie jar and got nailed by mom. How did that happen? First of all, you denied that you even took a cookie in the first place by the fact that there were crumbs coming out of your mouth and there was a trail of crumbs leading all the way back to the cookie jar.

And there was a missing cookie.

So, you were in front of a television set and a big pile of crumbs sitting in front of you. So, mom started asking 20 questions until finally you had no other choice but to admit that you were lying.

You've got to look at what evidence you have and work the trail out. But you've got to first get a hold of your emotions in order to not blow your opportunities in front of the Family Court Judge.

It takes discipline and practice but the resulting payoff can be ENORMOUS.
About the Author
Danny Guspie - Executive Director of Fathers Resources International can help you learn the successful strategies of fathers who have won in Family Court. Join us on our weekly calls at

where we will share with you what works for successful divorced dads.
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