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Brandon M.
Brandon M., Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 12620
Experience:  Attorney experienced in all aspects of family law
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Do you have a template letter for requesting child custody

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Do you have a template letter for requesting child custody for mediation?
Hello there:

To whom do you intend this letter to be addressed?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
It's for mediation tomorrow, regarding the custody of my 4 month old son. I would like to request primary legal and physical custody. He can have weekend visitations and weekday visitations after he gets off work. I'm not trying to keep him from seeing him I just want to be the primary parent. We were never married. I need a letter stating what I want in regards XXXXX XXXXX This is what I was told to do in the mediation orientation.
In which county is your mediation to be held?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Butte county, california
Thank you. Because every case is different, like a fingerprint, there isn't really a template per se, but I can give you the suggestions that I give to clients when preparing a statement for mediation. Would that suffice?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
That would be great. As far as me the parent and the father of my son we are both normal people. There are no problems, drama, drugs, prior offenses or problems with the law. I know the older my son gets the more custody rights the father will have. I know that my son at 4 months I will have the majority of the custody. He will most likely get every other weekend and a couple weekdays. I'm fine with that I just need a good letter so I can get the primary custody that I most likely will get.
Well, I am definitely glad that you are all "normal people"; you can imagine what some of the situations are like, and I am sure that the mediator will be happy to work with you.

At this stage, the main focus generally should be getting the mediator on your side. The mediator will issue a report that the court typically relies heavily on when making its decisions.

This is the sell for mediation and for court: The biggest trap that parents fall into with mediation is that they are tempted to become the "gatekeeper parent". The other parent doesn't do this, they don't do this, they don't do that... what it really boils down to is a difference in parenting styles, and that is not a basis for change. The focus should usually be on what you would like to offer the child that you are uniquely positioned to provide. For example, perhaps the child is at a tender age and is showing excessive anxiety about being away from her primary custodian; perhaps the child is older and simply identifies better with their same-sex parent... it really does not matter, but you need a theme that tells a story of why the child is better off with you. Imagine a wheel with multiple spokes; the center of the wheel is the theme; you can talk about whatever else you want (the spokes) but all subject matter should lead back to the theme. It is sometimes helpful to actually draw out your theme wheel with spokes.

Example 1 (focus):

(weak) "dad always gives Bobby American foods; I'm tired of him eating junk."

(better) "when Bobby is in my care, I offer him cuisine from lots of different cultures and places; He is at an age where he can start to appreciate those things and it will help with his development and assimilation as he gets older." (notice no mention of dad).

Example 2 (spokes):

(weak) "dad always let's Bobby stay up too late on the weekends."

(better) "I have always been the primary custodian; Bobby is accustomed to the structure that I have developed for him over the years and part of that structure is an early bedtime so he can be refreshed in the morning. I know my son, and it would be in his best interest if I am allowed to continue that structure through a sole custody order." (again, this is not about dad or what dad can't do; it is about what mom is uniquely positioned to do for Bobby).

Lastly, if it is not too late, get and file some declarations from people who know your child and can attest to how he has been doing on days when in your care versus in his father's care. You do not want to be the mud-slinger, but there is nothing wrong with others doing it for you.

I hope that this helps. Obviously, there is no way to condense years of training and experience down to a few paragraphs, but this will hopefully point you in the right direction. Let me know if I may be of further assistance.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
My son only being four months it is my understanding that I will naturally get the majority of time and legal custody. My son at four months I really have no situations that of like your examples. Should I just try to play on the fact that I am his mother and he is too young at this point for split time. I am willing to give him weekends and a couple of weekdays for a few of hours? I am told that that is more than normal for this early age.
Actually, at 4 months, the mother is almost guaranteed very significant custody. But yes, developmentally, a child needs their mother more at that age and that is a good "theme". He has been inside you longer than he has been outside you; he depends on you for basically everything. Frankly, giving dad weekends and a couple of weekdays would be inappropriate in most circumstances, especially if the mother is breast feeding. At 4 months, I would usually suggest that dad gets perhaps 3 or 4 visits of 2-3 hours in length per week.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
What would be fair or the court give in the ways of holidays?
It is pretty common that major holidays are divided with one parent getting priority time with the child for certain holidays in odd numbered years and others in even numbered years. Parents also are usually given priority time on mother's day, father's day, and their respective birthdays.
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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
At what age does the dad receive or customarily receive more time?
Generally, when the child reaches around 1 year to 18 months, it is developmentally appropriate for dad to start getting overnight visits.