“Be careful what you ask for,” could well be another title for tonight’s installment. Every so often we are hired to defend a contempt case. As we review the other side’s contentions, we assess the Order or Agreement from which our client’s duty arose and in it we often find a treasure trove of abuses wrought by the other party. This is the classic situation of complaining of a mote in your ex’s eye whilst ignoring the beam in your own.
We were recently retained by someone sued for contempt for $10,000 which was still owed to the other party. As we dove deeper into the case, we discovered that our client was owed $35,000 from the other party. As that case developed, don’t you know that the opposing counsel received quite a call from his client. Don’t you know that the opposing party learned and learned and learned times 25,000, just how stupid a mistake he had made to ever raise the issue in the first place.
Not too long ago, we were retained when a fellow filed a modification action, as he later told the judge, just to prove a point. Unfortunately for him, we found evidence of his contempt stemming from the Final Judgment and Decree which totalled well over $250,000. That is a gift that keeps on giving.
Many biblical references come to mind. I’ve cited one above. Another one is, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” A non biblical reference is, “people in glass houses should not throw stones.” One never cited, because I just made it up, is: “Tread softly on your neighbor’s grass when it is well fertilized by your own dog.” Okay, I realize why that one is never cited. It’s fairly lame.
The moral to the story, though, is just because you go looking for a fight, that doesn’t mean you’re going to win it. Before you pick a fight, get a real good assessment of what your likelyhood of winning is. And if you are having to defend a fight you didn’t bring, get a really good, outside the box assessment of all of your options. More often than not, we have found the hidden gem that makes your ex rue the day they ever stooped so low as to go back into court with you.