Kristin K. Zurek, JD of Cordell & Cordell, P.C.
You’re in the midst of your divorce case. She claims you work too much and you’re not involved in the children’s lives, and therefore, she deserves primary custody. You have pled for a joint custody arrangement. How do you prove or disprove those kinds of allegations? Isn’t family law litigation a mostly he said/she said endeavor?
Not necessarily! One of the best ways to make your case, or disprove her case, is by utilizing collateral sources.
You will want to find as many objective facts that you can to help back up your side of the story to make your case more credible to the Judge. The more independent facts and witnesses that you can use to prove your case increases the likelihood that you will have a more favorable outcome to your litigation.
Let’s take the example above, and let me show you how you can use collateral sources to help you disprove an allegation.
One source I would try to utilize is your neighbors. They do not have the same bias as a family member would have – their only connection to you is that they happen to live on your same street. Can they testify as to the time they see you leave the house and the time you return? Is it you or your wife always outside playing with the kids or barbequing dinner? Is it you or your wife who is always shuttling the kids around to school, after school activities, etc.? This kind of testimony would be tremendously useful in Court given the unbiased nature of the testifying party.
How about the parents of your children’s friends? Can they say they see you at all the weekend baseball games? Are you a consistent presence at Cub Scout events? Whether or not you attend your children’s activities is in fact independently verifiable – you just need to know where to look.
Another good source of collateral sources is usually your child’s school. Is there a counselor or a teacher at school that can testify as to your involvement with the school? Do you attend field trips as a parent chaperone? At every parent teacher conference, have you made a point to talk to the principal?
Again, we have an avenue to independently verify your involvement in the children’s schooling.
With this example, I would also ask for my client to gather his work records. If he had a job where he clocks in/clocks out, I would want to see those records to verify his work schedule. That way, if he is at work the standard eight hours a day, the allegation of “working too much” is rendered practically moot.
So, when an allegations such as the one above is pled in dissolution litigation, don’t get mad. Get busy finding your collateral sources to disprove her case!
Kristin K. Zurek is an Associate Attorney and Litigation Manager in the Cordell & Cordell, P.C. office in St. Louis, Missouri. She has dedicated her practice exclusively to domestic litigation. Ms. Zurek is licensed to practice law in the state of Missouri.
Ms. Zurek began her career as a law clerk in a family law practice while attending law school. She has worked on many family law matters, helping clients to navigate the complex legal system and to successfully restructure their families while serving to advocate for her client’s best interests.
Read more about Ms. Zurek.