As kids get older custody arrangements often need to be changed. Just because you have an order does not mean that it is set in concrete, judges understand that teenagers have different needs than toddlers, and need different schedules with their parents. Even a year or two of age difference for a child can make a huge difference in what type of schedule works for them. No matter what the age of your kids, if things have changed and the current custody order no longer works for them, take a look at getting it changed.
The biblical figure King Solomon was the judge in a dispute between two women who wanted one baby. The king told them, "split the baby in half', each mother will get an equal share." One mother cried out that she would rather the baby be given to the other woman than spilt. The king granted her the baby because she was the true mother. Judges in custody disputes today are required to use the standard of 'the best interest of the child', and not necessarily what is equal or fair for the parents, to make custody determinations. while an equal split sounds fair, and often is fair, it is not always possible. When parents live long distances apart I often hear requests for 50-50 equal time custody. In many cases equal time is a good way to go, lets both parents have a major part in their children's lives. But, when they live in separate communities and school districts, it just will not work. The children have to go to one school or another. They can spend the summer with the other parent, but, even then, it will still not be close to equal time.
In this day and age most people accept that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. While gender bias remains, there are fewer and fewer roles that are seen as being just for women or men. The days of men having a limited role in raising children are over for most of us. But, family court seems to be a holdover from the old days for unmarried fathers. Too often, unmarried dads in this area are treated like possible threats to their children, even when they have never committed a crime.
The Rolling Stones said it best, you can't always get what you want. In fact, most of the time we do not get what we want. It is important to keep that in mind when deciding whether to make an agreement to resolve a case, or go to a trial. If you can get at least some of what you want in an agreement, there are some huge advantages to settling as opposed to letting a judge, or in some cases a jury decide.
You know what will happen, judges, and jurors are unpredictable, you do not know what they may do you could win big, or lose big.
The process of a trial, regardless of the result is generally unpleasant. In family court, you will hear the other parent, and their lawyer trash you in open court, often for hours on end. While it is true that you and your lawyer will get to trash the other parent, most people would rather avoid a mutual semi-public bashing.
In criminal court, if you lose you will be convicted, and likely go to jail or prison, for family court, your future with your children is likely at stake, or your financial security. The stress when the stakes are that high is very hard for many people to bear, to say nothing of the increased legal costs of contested cases.
Don't get me wrong, if there is no reasonable offer on the table, I am happy to go to trial with you, have done it hundreds of times. But, if I can negotiate a fair agreement for you give it some serious thought, by taking it you will avoid a lot of grief regardless of the result.
I was talking to a judge I know today at a mediation. He told me that he is a human being, who tries his best, but like all humans is not perfect, sometimes makes mistakes. As any other judge I know will tell you, putting on a black robe does not elevate one to perfection. The judges I know do their best to make tough decisions in family law disputes, often pressed for time with woefully inadequate information. A divorce trial usually takes 1 to 4 days, with about 7 hours of in court time per day. In this time the judge is expected to receive information about a marriage that lasted decades, decide which parent is best able to raise the children going forward, and also decide how financial assets should be decided, and what financial support spouses will pay to each other. To expect any human being to make all of these decisions correctly under these conditions is simply not realistic. Bottom line, if you, and your soon to be ex wife, or the other parent of your child can make an agreement without a trial you not only save money, but avoid the risk of a harried judge making the wrong decision based on the limited info presented at the trial.