Tomorrow my wife and I are headed to the annual family law meeting for the North Carolina Bar. This year the event is being held in Charleston, South Carolina and the title of the event is “In the Trenches: Understanding and Preparing for Custody Litigation.

I’m hoping I’ll learn something while I am there, but to be perfectly honest, I am disappointed in the topic. To me, the words custody and litigation just don’t mix. When you get involved in a custody battle, the only real winners are the lawyers. The parents don’t win, the children definitely don’t win, and at the end of the day, a judge makes a decision that impacts the lives of all these people for years to come.

Here’s a quick rundown of the topics that are going to be discussed:

  • Child Custody Evaluations: What you need to know, what your client needs to know, and what judges really want to know
  • Temporary orders including when they are appropriate, when notice is required for an emergency custody motion, and the use of affidavits in temporary hearings
  • Evidentiary considerations in custody cases and tactics for getting around potential hearsay problems
  • The impact of custody orders on school assignment and relocation
    Mental health and substance abuse issues in custody cases
  • To Twitter or not to Twitter….ethical considerations and the internet

I read that list, and I think – Child Custody Evaluations are a necessary evil to assist the judge in making his/her decision. However, they are expensive and not always completely accurate. Temporary Orders mean you are involving the children in litigation. Evidentiary considerations means you are already at trial fighting over who gets the kids. Custody Orders – see above on temporary orders. And finally, Twitter? No comment on that.

What really disappoints me about this is that there is no mention of any alternative methods of dispute resolution. What about the child psychologist or the parenting coordinator? Where is mediation in all of this, or even collaborative law?

I’m hoping I will be pleasantly surprised by what I learn this weekend… but I’m not going to hold my breath.