When you work in family law, whether in Marietta or Moscow, you see the
worst of people and you see the best of people. Most every day is an in
depth descent into the human psyche. It is a genuine blessing to so intimately
share families' most personal moments.
Christmas time is like every other time except exponentially so. Take all
the glory and the misery, the merriment and the drama, the excitement
and the anxiety of the holiday season and add to it the zenith of complicating
factors: bi-nuclear family relationships. And just as family law takes
intricate twists and turns in every situation, family law at Christmas
time shares the the comedy, the tragedy and the grandeur of the human
condition, cast in overtones only Dickens could offer.
First story: the parties have a little girl, a very, very little girl.
The parties aren't married. It turns out that dad really wasn't
that committed when he spent that special night with his future child's
mother because he was actually engaged to someone else. Nine months later,
a child is born. Dad has priorities with his money. The child doesn't
seem to be one of them. But, as his possession, she must be possessed.
Dad demands a full week at Christmastime. Just he and the child and his
fiance'. Nice little family. And if mom doesn't comply? He'll
just come over and explain things the hard way.
Second story: the parties have children; they've been married for some
time. One party had some fidelity issues. The other party left and took
the children. At a temporary hearing several months ago, the judge awarded
the party with the children primary custody and fairly traditional every
other week visitation to the other party. At that time, no one expected
the case to last into the holidays. Now Christmas approaches. This year
it falls on a Wednesday. "She can't have them on Christmas day.
It's not her time."
Finaly story: a couple with several children have been divorced for several
years. They had bitter, private wars as they grew to realize that they
had no business staying together. To say that their conduct toward each
other then was not nice would be an understatement. But the couple's
issues were with each other, not with their children. This the couple
always knew. The spouses would soon no longer be, but the family was a
different entity. The family in a new form would live on. This the couple
always remembered. This Christmas, as last Christmas, they will sit down
together for Christmas dinner, this year at his house, last year at hers,
with their new spouses and step children, with the hatchets buried and
their focus on the amazing ability of people to move on, grow and be good
to each other, they will break bread and be merry once again.
What people will do. Oh.Good.Lord. We can be horrible. We can be beautiful.
That remains our choice.
Bottom line, I think? Don't just be good for the sake of the children,
be good for goodness sake. And be good to each other.
Merry Christmas from The Manely Firm family to your family in all of its