Fair Cadora Blog
Posted By Kevin L. Cadora, Esq.
All too often parties and even lawyers have no civility in family court. While it is understood and appreciated that parties are highly charged in any type of family law proceeding and their conduct, to a degree, can be excused and tolerated, there is absolutely no excuse for family law lawyers to step into the shoes of their clients and engage in unprofessional conduct and personal attacks against the opposing side.
Like with any great profession such as doctors, athletes, CPA, etc., attorneys are professionals and we are paid to remain objective and professional no matter what the other side says or does even if the other side is an attorney who has taken on the personality of their client. A great mentor once said, kill them with kindness because the practice of law is our profession, not our lives.
All family law attorneys, be them seasoned or green, should also be acutely aware that you are in the wrong area of law if you cannot go have drinks with opposing counsel after a case has concluded because clients come and go but our reputation shall remain throughout your career. A good reputation can settle cases, allow for continuances, provide for a lower level of stress and an overall greater quality of life. This is not to say an attorney should compromise their client’s interests in anyway because we as attorneys can zealously advocate for our clients and be completely objective and professional at the same time.
To provide an excellent example of civility in family court, the following is an email to Attorney Cadora from a seasoned and respected San Diego family law attorney sent after several months of litigation and an extremely long trial:
I want to share with you that I enjoyed working with you on the case we completed yesterday. You are professional in all respects but also have an appropriate sense of humor where needed. It is that combination that will allow you to thrive doing family law. Without that combination, your sanity and your effectiveness as an attorney will both suffer.
In particular, I recognized and appreciated that you were superbly prepared for our hearing. Too many attorneys do not put the needed effort into the modest cases like we did yesterday. Fact is, our clients deserve the very best we can give them, no matter the issue, no matter the “size” of the case. It is clear to me that you are of the same mind.
As a more senior (i.e., old) member of the Bar, I experience all too many hearings with younger attorneys where it seems that they just do not “care” as much about our profession as I would like. Ours is a profession; not a job. I am pleased that you appear to be made of the right stuff to carry on our profession at a high level of expertise that will be a model for your generation of attorneys. All the best.
The foregoing email from an opposing counsel is exactly what Fair Cadora stands for in the sense that we are aggressive yet reasonable attorneys and we never compromise our ethics, civility or professionalism for any one case. The foregoing mission has served our clients well and hopefully served the San Diego Family Law Community as a whole because there is no need to depart from civility in family court.
Posted By Kevin L. Cadora, Esq.
Nowhere else in family law is an issue more important than child custody and visitation. It does not matter how much money the parties have or how many properties or overseas timeshares a spouse owns; when it comes to children, no other issue can compare since custody deals with people, which can never be replaced, and money and property are always replaceable. The reason custody and visitation is such an important issue in family law is based upon two primary principals. First, when dealing with children, emotions run high so custody and visitation are extremely important to both the parties and the judge because the custody plan will impact the children as well as the parents. Second, custody of children has a direct correlation to the parents’ constitutionally protected property rights in the form of child support. The emotional and psychological impact of child custody litigation coupled with the financial impact of child support makes custody and visitation one of the most important issues in any family law proceeding. Before further discussing custody and visitation, however, it is important to differentiate between custody and visitation because the terms are NOT synonymous.
First, custody is divided into physical custody, which is defined as either sole to one parent or jointly to both parents and legal custody, which is a parent’s right and responsibility to make decisions regarding the children’s health, education and welfare. Custody litigation is often required when parents cannot agree on (1) where the children will live, (2) where the children will attend school or (3) non-emergency medical treatment for the children. Custody litigation is also prevalent when one parent seeks to relocate the children out of California. Custody is initially determined based upon the children’s best interest and if a parent wishes to modify a permanent custody order, the parent must also show a change in circumstances warranting a change in custody that would be in the children’s best interest.
Next, visitation is the time a non-custodial parent has with the children, which is also decided based upon the children’s best interest. Visitation can be unsupervised, supervised and even therapeutic depending on the needs of the children and the parents. The court also has the ability to order supervised exchanges of the children in the event there is enormous conflict between the parties. Regardless, the court must balance the parents’ rights to frequent and continuous contact with their children against what is in the children’s best interest.
Factors the court considers when ordering custody and visitation include but are not limited to (1) a parent’s habitual and continuous use of drugs/alcohol, (2) domestic violence perpetrated by a parent, (3) the special needs of the children, (4) the parent’s living conditions, (4) the distance between the parents and extended family, (5) the parent’s work schedules, (6) the children’s activities and (7) the children’s behavior and academic performance.
Finally, it is extremely important to remember that child support is based upon a parent’s time with the children. The more time a parent has with the children, the less their child support obligation will be to the other parent and vice versa. Granted, there are several other factors that go into the calculation of child support but the non-custodial parent’s timeshare or percentage with the children is critical to the calculation of child support.