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Family Law: the Bigger, the Better

Big houses. Big cars. Big muscles. Many of us strive to acquire bigger possessions in life. To many, the size of such possessions may be a symbol of wealth and status. Or it may just be a personal preference. Whatever the reason is, this trend certainly exists in the modern society. But in Family Law?

When it comes to family law, size does matter, too. No, I'm not talking about the amount of money available in the joint checking account or the size of the marital home. I'm talking about the size of your reasonableness that you are able to maintain and show in the midst of a very hectic and messy divorce.

Divorce-and other areas of family law-can get nasty, especially when it involves custody disputes. A common phenomenon among parties to a divorce is pointing fingers at each other and making derogatory statements about the other party. Many folks spend too much time trying to make the other party look bad. They forget about something that is more important-showing to the judge their own good character. In fact, one judge expressly told both parties to a divorce that he doesn't like it when either party does nothing but attempt to destroy each other's character. From a judge's point of view, the judge wants to see two adults-not immature people-work out their differences through the legal system. And isn't one of the pivotal characteristic of an adult reasonableness?

Let's talk about legitimation for example. When a child is born out of wedlock, the father doesn't have any legal rights with respect to the child until and unless he goes through legitimation. For example, the father doesn't have any rights to custody or visitation until he legitimates the child. That is, if the mother, who has sole custody of a child born out of wedlock before legitimation, refuses to let the father see the child, then the father has no choice. Does this mean that it would be wise for the mother to prevent the father from developing a relationship with the child? Probably not. This is would seem unreasonable to the judge, and may affect the outcome of the legitimation case and not in the mother's favor. Many folks seem to focus too much on technicalities of family law, but I've learned that what usually works best for my clients is being reasonable-and being the bigger person. Judges will reward this position. Judges want to see reasonable adults in their courtroom.

I know, it's easier said than done. And what is reasonable depends on the circumstances of each case. But wouldn't you want to do your best to be the bigger person when everything is at risk?

For those who need motivation, here is what a judge told my client, in substance, after I won a motion hearing on a technicality: "Sir, I know your attorney got the other attorney on a technicality, but would you reconsider what your ex is requesting and work out something with her? If you keep insisting on your position, that will leave an unreasonable impression on me. And you don't want that."

Daesik Shin

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