Tonight’s post on Street Justice in Family Law was written by our Atlanta Family Law Attorney, Cherese Clark.
With the holiday season upon us, many people fall victim to the stress of the season and try to take control of their situation the best they know how.
In family law, this is a time of year when tensions brew and give rise to situations which you might try to fix by yourself by engaging in self-help remedies, also know as street justice.
Emotions take over and logic and rationality goes out of window. While self-help may provide a sense of immediate gratification, the consequences could impact you substantially in your case, your pocketbook and your long term peace of mind.
Here are the “Top 3 Reasons ‘Street Justice’ Fails to deliver in Family Law:
3. Costs Money:
Deciding to take matters into your own hands may appear to come at a very low cost. However, undoing the web of foolishness that usually results tends to cost far, far more. More litigation + more remedial tools = a hearty attorney bill later on.
Save yourself money and consult with counsel now, before you make sudden, impulsive moves that could damage your chances of prevailing in the long run.
2. Small Victories Do Not Mean the War is Won:
Everyone agrees that winning feels great. However, in family law there are often smaller battles that are created when you decide to take matters into your own hands. But, while you may decide to engage in self help, you may be playing into a trap carefully and strategically laid by your opponent.
An example: you file for a downward child support modification. Court is scheduled in February but you unilaterally decide to decrease your own child support now, despite (knowingly) being under an order to continue to pay as you had been before. Not only have you walked yourself into a contempt, but you have now exposed yourself to possibly having to pay your opposing party’s attorneys fees, not to mention rifling the feathers of your judge who is the trier of fact and will decide whether and by how much to reduce your child support.
Yes, your short term decision has just funded your adversary. Not good.
1. Congratulations. You just became your own worst enemy:
When you take justice into your own hands, just know that it takes double the time to undo what you have just done.
For instance: a father is in the midst of a divorce and custody battle. After visitation, he decides to not bring the child back to the mother. While the father does have equal rights to his child, he has now set the stage for what could be a decicive custodial issue by failing to return the child. Now in the mist of litigation this father has created an uphill battle to restore trust with not only his co- parent but also the court.
Ka-ching. You can hear the attorney fees mounting. And for what? What seemed like a great idea at the time. You took something simple and made it complex and complex is costly.
So, in the final analysis, next time you are tempted to engage in Street Justice just ask yourself, when’s the last time you removed your own tonsils?
Yeah, I thought so.