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Family Lawyers Las Cruces NM | Blog

Tips for Surviving a Divorce or Custody Battle

Posted by Sarah Van Cott Hughes | Nov 14, 2022

Child Abuse and Parenting Issues in Dona Ana County, Las Cruces

If you are regularly screaming at children or spanking them in order to communicate or discipline them, it is critical to find other ways to parent your children as Courts no longer tolerate spanking or physical touching in any way as a form of discipline.  Consistent and/or excessive yelling or screaming at a child may also be considered harassment and abuse and unfortunately, many children begin to tone out yelling and fail to respond to such discipline appropriately.  Excessive yelling can cause emotional abuse and trauma and also raises red flags in public settings. 

How do I know if there is domestic violence in my home? When it comes to relationships with others, always treat another the way you would want to be treated and remain calm during disagreements. Consistent yelling and hitting are no longer considered acceptable and effective communication in the Courts, or in many homes.  Consistent yelling, hitting, name-calling, cussing and making derogatory remarks to another person are all forms of domestic violence which can lead to you losing custody of your children.  Parenting is one of the most challenging roles we have as adults, and it takes a village.  Healthy parenting with someone who is a domestic abuser requires intervention.  While marijuana is now considered legal in child custody cases, parenting your child while under the influence of any substance is not safe. 

While there is no perfect parent or partner, no one has the right to hurt a child, ever. Speak out now. If this pattern of behavior is present in your home, or the home of a loved one, get help.  Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7 at 800-799-7233 or text START to 88788. Only you can stop the cycle of abuse by getting help. No one should live with domestic violence, get help to find a way out now.  Domestic violence, mental illness and substance abuse often occur together. If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis, getting help is critical to preventing domestic violence before it happens.  For free and confidential help with mental health and/or substance abuse call 1-800-662-4357, 24/7 to receive information and resources now. 

Parenting during a custody battle is different!

When a Court becomes involved in your parenting, it can feel like you are under a microscope.  We like to call it "parenting in a fishbowl."  The judge or opposing attorney may make assumptions or allegations that you feel are unfair. This can cause you to become discouraged and depressed.  It is important to put your children first when you are going through a custody battle. However, that means finding the right counselor for yourself because lawyers are too expensive to provide counseling. Not only is counseling important for your own self-care, it is critical to ensure that your children feel comfortable speaking to their guidance counselor or receive private family counseling, and there are often long waiting lists to find the right provider.

If you are unable to obtain counseling for your children, ensure that they are able to speak to another trusted adult about their feelings.  Often time adults and children have issues communicating effectively when during a divorce or custody battle and everyone walks on eggshells.  A common theme for frustrated parents in a custody battle is "She" or "He" "gets away with everything!"  The best way to avoid a custody battle is to prevent it from occurring in the first place.  Respectful, healthy communication is a necessary skill in navigating relationships and raising successful, well-adjusted children.  Don't try and figure out family law on your own, get the assistance of a skilled family law attorney who can develop a strategy so you can reduce your anxiety and conflict when it comes to a custody battle or the decision to end your relationship with a co-parent before it's too late.

Your wait for a court date could take months, and preparation is key

It can take several months to receive a court hearing in front of a judge.  The hearings, many times, only last one or two hours.  How can you expect a judge to learn everything about your family and children in that short period of time and make a decision that will affect your family's future?  Family law court is a broken system, similar to the criminal justice system because no judge will be able to assist you when the events actually occur, as many hearings take months to schedule.  In family law, we prepare the best strategic case possible for the Court and prepare for every worst-case outcome. Once you enter the Courtroom, you no longer have control over your case, you are giving that control to your Judge.  If you feel you have been wronged by a judge, there is very little recourse and overturning a judge's decision is costly, if not impossible.  Family law judges must determine who is telling the truth, and unfortunately, many people have no issues lying in Court to get the result they want.  Because of the amount of family law cases in New Mexico, lying in Court is commonplace and there is very little you can do when it happens unexpectedly. There is often no "smoking gun" or punishments for perjury (lying under oath) because there is so little time available for the abundance of cases that flood the family court law system.  That is why planning and building your case with solid evidence is critical, with a back-up plan to address the mud-slinging and "exaggerating" that family law court has become.  Contact us to discuss your custody case and get the strategies you need to survive a custody battle in one of the most complex areas of the law. 

"Top Secret" information for clients who hire a New Mexico family law attorney

At times, law firms are extremely busy and do not take the time to truly explain the way their law firm operates, which is different from any other business. If you are a current client of Advanced Legal Resolutions, or you have hired an attorney, it is important to understand that retaining an attorney is a financial hardship, as most private attorneys charge anywhere between $250 to $400 an hour depending on their location, practice area and level of experience. It is important that you receive a regular invoice for the amount you have paid your attorney and that you understand your monthly invoiced charges, so you know what work is being done on your case.  Just like doctors who are seeing patients, attorneys schedule their time around their court hearings and client meetings.  It is rare that an attorney will be able to take your call without advanced notice or without scheduling a meeting.  Also, you will pay the attorney's hourly rate for the time you spend speaking to your attorney.  If you would like to save money on your attorney fees, it is helpful to use email or the office staff to address your concerns or questions.  Advanced Legal Resolutions, as with many other law firms, charges for text messages, emails and phone calls from clients.  Those communications are documented on your monthly invoice.  While we do not always charge for every single communication, they can add up quickly and it is important that all clients keep this in mind. 

Why do Lawyers charge for communications?

It may seem unfair that attorneys charge for communications, such as emails, phone calls and text messages; however, if the legal staff and attorneys spend the entire day providing updates on cases, they are unable to perform the work necessary to advance your case.  Every client pays what's called a "Retainer" amount.  A retainer is the down-payment required for the attorney to represent you.  Once your "retainer", generally a dollar amount, reaches a low amount, it is time to make a payment to your account, called a "replenishment" or a trust funds deposit.  Because every case is different, if an attorney guarantees you a specific outcome or exact price on your case, that information is suspicious because there are no two legal problems that are the same.   Advanced Legal Resolutions sends "funds requests" which are links online where clients can make payments to their "retainer" also known as your "trust account".  The trust account is the amount of money you have on retainer with your attorney.  Money in your retainer is like fuel in your gas tank.  Attorneys bill from your retainer in order to perform their legal work.  It is impossible to complete your legal work without the necessary funds in your trust account.  Most "retainer agreements", the contract your sign with your attorney, allows attorneys to withdraw if the client does not replenish the retainer in a timely manner. 

How can I keep my legal fees under control?

Here at Advanced Legal Resolutions, LLC, we seek to provide the best services possible for reasonable fees.  One way to keep your legal fees down is to BE PREPARED!  If you are going through a divorce or child custody battle, finances are always an issue.  In a divorce or child custody case, you will be required to provide the following documents called Rule 1-123 documents which are due quickly after you are served, or when your case begins.  This information includes:

  • List of Property and Debt (Divorce only)
  • Your monthly income and expenses statement  (divorce and child custody)
  • Community property and liabilities (Divorce, what you own from date of marriage) 
  • Separate property and liabilities schedule (Divorce only, what you owned before the marriage) 
  • Spousal Support or Child Support (Any sources or court orders where you pay or receive) 
  • Federal and state tax returns, including all schedules, for past three years  (divorce and child custody)
  • W-2 statements for the past three years (divorce and child custody)
  • Internal Revenue Service Form 1099s for the year preceding the request  (divorce with children and child custody)
  • Work-related daycare statements for the year (Divorce with children and child custody)
  • Dependent medical insurance premiums for the year preceding the request (Divorce with children and child custody)
  • Wage and payroll statements for four months preceding the request  (Divorce and child custody)
  • Monthly income and expenses statement (Divorce and child custody) 

Reliable Advocacy in Any Circumstance

Our clients are faced with multiple legal challenges in all parts of their lives, at work or at home or out in the community. You never know when you are at risk of falling into a legal problem. Thankfully, our experienced attorney in Las Cruces is always ready to support you with the advocacy you need. By understanding the information provided above, you can work with your attorney to have a positive experience during a time of a custody battle or divorce.  While these situations are emotionally difficult, being prepared is the best way to ensure the best outcome possible. 

Call us now at (575) 647-8802or contact us online to get speak with Advanced Legal Resolutions, LLC about finding your legal solution today.

About the Author

Sarah Van Cott Hughes

Bio Sarah Van Cott began practicing law in Alamogordo, NM, at a small civil practice where she managed cases including wills and trusts, personal injury, landlord tenant and contract law. In 2013, she began working as an Assistant District Attorney prosecuting criminal cases for the State of Ne...

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