Q My custody and parenting-time trial finished a few months ago. I live in Chatham. After our separation, my husband relocated to Great Barrington, which is a four-hour drive each way. We’re still waiting for a judgment.
My husband and I each want our children (15, 12, and 10) to primarily live with us. Alternatively, during the school year, he wants our oldest (a daughter) to live with him, with the two younger children (boys) living with me, and then flip the arrangement during school vacations and holidays. This plan would – at a time when then need each other the most – effectively sever the relationship between our children.
Before trial, the court appointed a guardian ad litem. The GAL recommended the children remain with me. But just before trial, the judge – pursuant to my husband’s request – appointed a volunteer “ARC” – attorney representing children- for our daughter. That lawyer argued our daughter should live with her dad.
What do you think the judge will order?
A Here’s what you have going for you. Massachusetts law says it’s preferable to keep children together. And only GALs trained in social work, psychology, etc., can make recommendations. The GAL probably met with the three children, their doctors, teachers, etc. I’d bet the ARC lawyer had no psychological training. And if so, that lawyer only talked with your daughter. So logically, the judge should give more weight to the GAL’s recommendations.
Also, argument by a lawyer is not evidence. So, unless your daughter testified, the judge merely heard oral representations from the ARC lawyer. So all that, plus – if your lawyer objected to the ARC lawyer’s representations – there was no proper waiver of your daughter’s attorney-client privilege, you have some good points to raise on an appeal.
Because an appeal takes two plus years, you must ask the judge to stay the judgment. If your request is denied, it makes no sense to appeal because as that appeal is decided, your daughter is likely getting ready to go off to college.
Think of things this way. Your daughter, without your knowledge, might become pregnant and get an abortion – all without telling either parent. If so, in the long run and although you don’t agree with her decision, wouldn’t it be best to let her live with dad and hope she’ll not be angry with you? Do you believe Usher’s custody fight with his ex-wife Tameka Foster – or Alec Baldwin’s fight with Kim Basinger – over the custody of their respective children was harmful for the adults and the children?
If you now try to work this out, agreeing to let your daughter live with dad and the two boys stay with you, I’d bet the rest of the plan will fall into place.
People tend to live more easily with a plan they create instead of complaining about a plan ordered by the judge.