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Meeting in the Middle

When it comes to custody, patient work can dramatically improve a child’s situation.

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By the time a Children First! (CF) attorney was appointed to represent “Bradley”, the 11-year-old was already stuck in a control battle between his parents. Bradley’s mother and father had separated a number of years before. Bradley lived primarily with his mother, with only sporadic visits from his father. The parents wanted to get divorced, but they were getting along so badly, stipulating to a contact order would be extremely difficult.

When the parents went to their first hearing before Family Court, the judge was forced to call for additional security as the parties each made loud and angry allegations against the other. Given this, a calm resolution seemed extremely unlikely. But CF was ready to try.

With assistance from a guardian ad litem the court appointed in this case, CF! made numerous visits to both parents’ homes over the course of the next few months. CF! listened patiently to Bradley’s mother and father, his grandparents, his school staff, his therapist, and everyone else identified by both parties. During several hearings over the course of those months, CF! stressed to the parties the importance of being fair and patient in dealing with the other parent.

Miraculously, given the way the case started, the parties entered into a fully stipulated settlement. While Bradley’s mother retained a primary parental role, the child now spends three days a week with his father and four days with his mother. When CF! and the guardian ad litem last met with Bradley to check in with him one last time, he was genuinely happy. He enjoyed spending time with his father, and was extremely relieved that his parents were no longer fighting with each other and putting him in the middle.

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