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When it comes to International Family Law, LISTEN TO ME!

Not too long ago I received a follow up call from a guy who had called me several months before for a consultation on International Family Law.  

In his previous consultation, he told me that several years before, his wife had left their home in the United States and moved with his girls to her family home in foreign country.  His response back then was to follow them to their new homeland and settle down. A year or so after relocating, his wife divorced him and obtained custody of the girls in that foreign country.  

A few weeks before his first call to me he finally had gotten tired of waiting for his now ex-wife to agree to return to the US with his girls, so he announced that he was going to take the girls back to the US for a visit with this family.  Within the week of his return, he told his ex-wife that the girls were not returning and he was going to stay in the US.  He called me just a few days after that disclosure.  He wanted to know what the Hague Convention said about his conduct and what he could do about it.  

I told him he was in a serious pickle (actually I was a lot more direct with him) and he needed to return the girls asap.  I told him that he was going about it all wrong and he would lose big, big time.  He replied that he had consulted another attorney who told him that everything was fine and that he was going to keep his girls in the US.  There was nothing the ex wife could do about it.

I happen to know this other attorney.  He is suddenly making a big bluster about breaking into International Family Law.  He's telling other attorneys in our industry that he's tired of the usual family law, it is just too boring for him now, and he thought International Family law might be fun to try out.

To try out? You've got to be kidding me.  To try out?  I've been trying international family law cases for years upon years now.  One doesn't just try out something as huge, as delicate, and as complex as international family law.  Being a neophyte in any practice area is a disaster waiting to happen but in International Family Law it is a disaster almost certain to happen.

Well, as you could guess, the potential client didn't like what I had to say.  He liked what the neophyte attorney told him.  The Manely Firm did not get hired on that matter.

So, back to the beginning of my story,  The potential client had hired the neophyte attorney because the attorney told the potential client what he wanted to hear.  Things had not gone well for the potential client ever since.  He knew almost the first moment they walked into court that the day was not to be his.  He would have called me sooner but he couldn't because he had spent the last three months in jail.  It seems the neophyte attorney botched the matter so badly that the potential client was arrested and incarcerated for three months.

So, neophyte attorney, how's that "trying it out" working out for your clients now?  If I sound angry, I am.  I still am.  Parties deserve better than that.  At a minimum, they deserve good advice.

There are many cliche's I could use for this blog entry.  "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," certainly comes to mind.  But basically what I want to impart tonight is a plea that anyone who takes the time to call me up or visit with me to obtain my opinion about what they should do with their family law matter really ought to LISTEN TO ME!

I've been doing this work for 23 years, come June.  I've gotten really good at it. I'm deadly serious about it because it cuts to the core of the most critical issues to your life and well being.  

And when it comes to International Family Law, when you are comparing attorneys to hire, find out whether the other attorney actually has a clue about this practice.  The last Hague trial I had the other party had to go to all the way to Baltimore to find experienced counsel. There are very few of us in the United States.

Please don't hire an attorney because he tells you just what you want to hear and then gets you arrested and locked up for three months because he's trying out International Family Law.  Don't let anyone experiment on you.

That's all the rant I have tonight. Thank you for reading.

Michael Manely

1 Comment

in my limited experience, many attorneys claim to be hague experts, and turn out to be inexperienced with a seminar or 2 under their belts. and especially if you are defending a hague action, experience matters.

that said, the guy is a parental abductor, the inexperienced attorney did not make him one. the hague treaty is not very complicated, and i suppose one can hope for a favorable judge but this guy knew what he was doing was wrong if he skimmed the hague treaty and everythign that is written on it.

Moreover, the guy took the time to talk with you and had two very different suggestions of what he should do and clearly did not try and reconcile them. he got locked up for ignoring that fact more than anything else. and im sure the incarceration is only a small part of what happened. im sure he will be unable to take his children to america for a decade or more.

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