This will help some of you others out there who are devastated emotionally and financially and ready to jump off a cliff.
There are many posts here with the writer claiming they didn't get custody because their wife wasn't making meth and wasn't psychotic so the judge ruled against them because they were men. While no doubt true in many cases, let me also argue that we lose many times because we have failed at something women can do naturally; focus on what the fight is about and beat you over the head with it.
A few weeks ago, as I noticed I was gaining weight from neurotic eating, not sleeping well, forgetting where my keys and wallet were because of the stress of "What Should I DO?" running through my head constantly, I came upon some thoughts that have lessened these sessions of panic attack by about 80-percent.
The key to victory is this: Keep your focus and your message to the judge or the decisionmaker in your case SIMPLE. Because if you don't, they'll simplify it for you and resent the fact that they had to do it.
In the relatively short time I've been on this board, the one thing I notice is that we do a lot of spinning on things that will likely not amount to a hill of beans. I've done it myself so I'm not criticizing. When you keep a log and do most of the things THE LIST tells you to do, you'll find yourself with a pile of data in no time. The reason you need to have that pile is so that you don't pass up a nugget you might need.
However, after all is said and done, I argue that you won't need most of it. After having been around courts and judges for decades, I can tell you that just about every judge or decision-maker boils everything down to one sentence and they will do it quickly. You need to plan accordingly.
I actually like to laser-beam it down to three words. Keep it realistic and unemotional, because that's how the decision maker will look at your case. For example, I could sum up my saga as "B**ch Is Crazy", and while it's true, it's not something that will make my case stand out and earn any points.
If I changed it to "Bi-Polar, Unreliable, Dangerous", that is something I can build on because I can PROVE all of that and I'm willing to bet that if I can help my lawyer tell this story to the judge, I increase my chances of getting what I want. If I can't prove it, I'm wasting my time.
I also realize that getting everything I want is about as likely as being drafted by the Yankees. There's a reason they say that no one wins in divorce.
A friend of mine who was a child custody evaluator for ten years says many of the cases where he recommended for the father didn't have anything to do with drugs or other "major" problems with the wife. He said he always recommended the side where the children would be better served. Maybe that's pie-in-the-sky reasoning to you, but look at every case on this board where the father won and it wasn't always about the wife going over the deep end. It was about the father presenting a story to the judge that they couldn't reasonably ignore.
Some on the board will discount this post as naive, and that their case really was complex and special and that they were screwed. It may be true. I also ask if the problem is/was whether the story they told the judge was simple and powerful or complex and, in the end, petty.
You can blame the lawyer, you can blame the GAL, you can blame the judge. I argue that if you didn't get what you want, you didn't tell your story well. The lawyer will only tell the judge the story you give them.
Maybe those are my three words to sum up this rambling post: Simple. Provable. Powerful.