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Family Law: The Judge Can't Tell Me What To Do!

Divorce and Contempt trials happen when people do not agree. They need the services of the neutral, the judge to decide an issue for them. They have been unable to decide it for themselves. So what do you do when a party says, "The Judge can't Order that. I don't agree with it! The Judge can't tell me what to do!"

There is some sort of critical disconnect there. The Judge had to Order it because you couldn't agree on anything else. When it gets this far down the road, you don't get to negate the Order because you disapprove. It ceases to be up to you.

Family law trials are an interesting aspect of life, I guess. You actually lose your autonomy. You actually surrender your outcome to someone else, someone who doesn't know you well, brings all of their life experiences and biases to their judgment and may not think highly of your situation, your conduct or your circumstance. That is a knee shaking prospect.

I guess another area like this is death. With rare exception, you don't get to choose. And despite your best efforts, your objections to it probably won't make a whole lot of difference. Your objection to the ruling, unless raised in the most

formalistic of ways will actually make the outcome worse and could make it a whole lot worse.

Strangely, the loss of party autonomy is the beauty of the system. It breaks the log jam. What happens when people don't agree? They aren't stuck forever. They get a trial. They will get divorced. They will win, or lose custody. The money will exchange hands. Win, lose or draw the parties are handed a result that moves them on. "Next?" says the Judge as one group moves from counsel table and the next group moves

in. The Judge moves on. The parties move on.

So, back to the story, in this case one party does not move on. At least figuratively, that party remains at counsel table saying, "but no. I don't agree. You can't make me." In short, that party is telling the Judge, "I don't respect or acknowledge your authority."

Do you remember that scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid w]ien Butch and Sundance run out of their hold-up in Bolivia with guns blazing? Yeah, "1hat happens next in court looks something like that. It isn't pretty. And it isn't productive.

You want to remain in some semblance of control? Hash out some sorts fan agreement. Shy away from people in black robes.

Otherwise, cast your boat out upon the waters without the benefit of sale or even paddle. You could wind up paradise, but you might wind up in Bolivia, instead.

Michael Manely

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