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Family Law: How's That Working For You?

A while back, I was consulting with a guy about an appeal who had been absolutely railroaded by the trial judge. The guy had filed a contempt against his ex for frustrating his visitation rights and had asked the judge to modify those rights to expand them a little more. At the end of his case, the judge denied the guy's contempt and restricted his visitation rights a bit further. It seemed that family law was being anything but just to this poor soul.

The more we talked, the more he explained how frustrated he was with his ex. She was doing everything she could to make it harder for him to see his kids. She would use an illness as an excuse. She would use her work as an excuse. She would even torture their prior settlement agreement to use that as an excuse. The ex didn't completely shut this guy out, but she was headed that way.

So when he got the kids on his time, he figured turn-about was fair play. When the ex wanted a favor from him, she could go to hell in no uncertain terms. And he was sure she knew it, too. He would give her no quarter.

Here's the rub, the more this guy related how things went down in the court room, the more a picture emerged of the judge taking a dimmer and dimmer view of this guy. The judge heard what the mother did, but it seemed like the judge wanted this guy to be the bigger man.

Judges do that sort of thing. They have their biases. Some of those biases are pretty uniform. It's as if they have a play list or a decision tree that takes them in set directions. This guy had fallen prey to one of them. A good family law attorney knows those biases and can help steer a client clear of those pitfalls. A good client listens to his attorney's advice and heeds it.  A good family law attorney knows how best to work this situation so that the client handles it well and it comes across well in the court room.  A good client can execute a good strategy.

When I explained the situation to this guy, he was having none of it. "This judge was wrong, dead wrong." This guy was sure he hadn't done anything that his ex didn't deserve. He contended that he shouldn't have to roll over all the time and let his ex get away with it. Righteousness was his!

I was getting nowhere. I had a sneaking sense that the judge had gone down the same path.

So I asked this guy, "How's constantly fighting with your ex working for you?" I got another rendition of, "I shouldn't have to roll over all the time and let her get away with it."

I thanked him for contacting the firm and wished him luck in his endeavors. But not before I told him that he probably needed to decide which was more important, constantly fighting with his ex or seeing more of his kids?

If you keep doing something even though it isn't working out for you, maybe it isn't that you are banging your head into a brick wall, maybe it's just that you are accomplishing what you really want to accomplish, you just are mis-perceiving your priorities. Maybe its that you are getting something valuable (to you) out of it, it's just different than that to which you are paying lip service.

So tell me, how's that working for you?

Michael Manely

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