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Parenting Time Bullet Guide (Part 10): Opening and closing statements in child custody & visitation

Female-Judge-300x200Welcome back to another addition to our series of bullet-point guides on parenting time and visitation in child custody cases. As you’ve likely noticed throughout the course of these series, parenting time decisions can be a source of significant stress and complexity for a lot of couples.

Even if your relationship came to an end in an amicable way, each parent may disagree on how to ensure they get the best for their children. Unfortunately, not all parents will see eye to eye when it comes to defining the best interests of the child. So far during this series, we’ve looked at various factors that can come into consideration when a court is making decisions about parenting time orders.

Now, we’re going to examine the statements a child custody attorney, like myself, might make when representing a client during a case for visitation and parenting time.

Child Custody and Parenting Time Opening Statements

Opening statements in a child custody trial mark the beginning of a case being presented to the courts. Of course, during a child custody trial, parenting time is only one issue that will need to be addressed during the course of the hearing. Aside from visitation, the judge will also need to consider things like who should have primary custody of the child, and the decision-making process for children.

  • Opening statements may not always be deemed appropriate during a child custody case, but in the right circumstances, they can allow a divorce and family law attorney such as myself, a chance to engage the judge with all the details of the specific case. In most cases, there can even be an attorney present for the children who can make their own statement.
  • The purpose of the opening statement in a child custody and visitation trial is to introduce a case to the judge and provide the judge with as much information as possible on the case they’re going to be hearing. The opening statement will outline the facts the attorney hopes to prove with the use of evidence.
  • The relaying of facts in an opening statement can sometimes slant in the favor of a specific party with the use of certain language, but the information revealed should remain honest and based on a good faith belief of the evidence that will be produced. The opening statement in any court does not allow for the making inflammatory statements.
  • When a divorce or child custody lawyer like myself presents an opening statement, they will often make a statement that includes an introduction, a body discussing the case, and a conclusion. In some cases, it may seem like the attorney is using the opening statement as a way of building a rapport with the judge. If the judge likes someone, this can be beneficial to the outcomes of the case.
  • In all cases, when an introductory or opening statement is used, it can be used to outline the points to be addressed in the case. Sometimes, child custody lawyers might even outline the weaknesses in their client’s case as a way of creating an air of honesty. Each attorney will have their own approach and unique strategy for opening statements.

Child Custody and Parenting Time Closing Statements

Just as an opening statement is used to introduce a judge to the issues of a child custody, visitation and parenting time case, a closing statement is used to summarise all the evidence that was actually produced in a succinct way. Closing statements are commonly used among lawyers in an attempt to focus the judge on the outcome that’s best for their client.

  • Closing statements offer a memorable way for attorneys to present all the information that a judge needs to keep in mind during a decision-making period in a succinct statement. The idea is to leave the judge with the belief that the custody and visitation requirements of the client are the ones that are also in the best interests of the children.
  • A closing statement is similar to an opening statement in structure, as it has a beginning, middle, and end. However, in this situation, the focus will be on drawing the memory back to some of the most important points made throughout the entire case. Attorneys will be able to discuss important evidence shown in a trial and remind the judge of things that back up their client’s position.
  • Child custody attorneys such as I need to determine how to use the evidence presented for a custody or visitation case as carefully as possible in a closing statement. Rather than simply paraphrasing documents or listing witnesses, we often look at things like using quotes and suggestions to highlight important areas of the trial. Many attorneys agree there is an art involved in designing an effective closing statement which highlights all the “good points” of the case for their client.
  • Although it’s the job of the child custody and visitation lawyer to ensure that the closing statement paints their client in the best light possible, it’s important to note that everything said in this statement needs to be truthful, and reflective of the evidence provided. Child custody attorneys need to present themselves as a conveyer of the facts, so that the courts can consider their argument correctly.

If you have any questions about the points above, you can find more information on opening statements and closing statements on this blog. We also have articles on the various techniques used by child custody attorneys when helping their clients with visitation and parenting rights. If you want to discuss your own case with me, Mr. Darren Shapiro, you can contact my office through the form on this website or at 516-333-6555 to arrange to get on our calendar for a free, friendly, and informative initial appointment.  Up to the first half hour is free.

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