The most heartbreaking thing to see in child custody cases is parental alienation. Unfortunately, it happens far too often. Many times the parent guilty of the alienation, will come up with all kinds ways to justify this bizarre behavior. They fool and trick themselves into believing they are protecting their child. Sometimes these parents will make false sex and other abuse allegations. They try to enlist the help of friends, family, law enforcement, DHS and the Courts, to punish the other parent and do their best to destroy his/her relationship with the child. This is not healthy for anyone.
Children deserve to love and have a strong, healthy relationship with both parents. Nobody has the right to interfere with that. If your ex was not a danger to the child before your breakup, he/she is not likely a danger now. Seek professional help if you find yourself engaging in this behavior. It’s not only what’s best for your child; it’s the right thing to do.
Especially when Chancery Judges have days they hear motions and temporary matters, you can hear lots of chatter outside or in the hallways about how mean and cruel a certain judge is. How he/she is not being fair to them. They can’t believe their attorney is not jumping up and down going all Al Pacino on this grave injustice. Obviously the judge is sexually attracted to their spouse or spouses’ attorney. And my personal favorite – the judge has been paid off (even if their soon-to-be-ex is broke). Obviously, there is no way they can get a fair trial now, even though this was just a temporary hearing that lasted 15 minutes. This judge has got to go.
Most attorneys don’t mind asking a judge for a recusal if there is a valid reason. Usually, the request is not necessary, as the judge will do a voluntarily recusal on their own motion. But what if there is no valid reason? What if you just don’t like the judge? Can you get a new one? Not likely. Chancery judges are usually assigned to cases at random. They have the case until it is concluded. Getting mad at your lawyer usually will not help if they don’t feel your doubts about the judge rise to the level of asking for a recusal. Long after your case is over; your lawyer will have other cases in front of this judge.
Being a Chancery Judge would have to rank as one of the hardest jobs I can imagine. Making decisions that affect children and their families must be a heavy burden. I’m sure sometimes the decision is obvious, but I also know at times there is no “good” option, only the lesser of two bad ones. That would keep me up at night. Do they make mistakes? Sure, we are all human and mistakes happen, but I can’t help but believe, especially when children are involved, that a Chancery Judge makes the best decision they can based on the facts presented.
I’m often asked if I am pro father’s rights or pro mother’s rights. I say I’m simply pro child. Throughout the years, I have met many wonderful parents and a few I would not even let babysit my cat (she is completely self-sufficient anyway). Some people are just naturally better at parenting than others, regardless of sex. That does not mean the other parent loves the child any less. Usually, it just means that one parent is more willing and able to perform the parenting duties and the other parent just gets out-of-the-way.
But oh my how this can change once a custody case is going. Suddenly, the previously unknown parent is showing up everywhere. They want to go to every doctor visit, teacher conference, boy/girl scout meeting, dance/piano/karate/pottery lesion, sporting event, field trip; you name the event and there they are. They want to be included on every decision, no matter how trivial. Depending on the age of the child, their reaction can be anywhere from ecstatic about the extra attention to absolute anger with the constant interference.
If you find yourself involved in a custody case, do your children some big favors. Try to keep things as normal as possible. Try your very best not to interfere with the routines of the children. Don’t talk bad about the other parent in front of your children and don’t undermine his/her parental authority. Children will by nature play one parent against the other. They did this before the break-up and they will continue to do so. Don’t make it easy for them. One parent should not be the “fun” parent and the other the “discipline” parent. Calm and steady makes children feel safe and loved. At this critical time, that is what they will need, because if you think this is hard on you, it’s even harder on them.
So remember, be pro child. Take the high road, even if the other parent is not. Try your best to make the right choices, not just the easy ones. And don’t forget, the successful child custody case starts long before the case is filed, by being an active and involved parent.
I want a lawyer that’s a junkyard dog! I want someone that’s going to be aggressive! I want someone to fight! fight! fight! I don’t know how many times I have heard these words. This is very typical in family law cases. For many people seeking divorce, this is the first time they have needed an attorney and their emotions are out of control. Maybe that’s why they are looking for the most emotionally unstable lawyer they can find.
Since seeing the Bugatti Veyron on the BBC show Top Gear years ago, I have thought it would be the perfect car for me. While it’s true that I have a family (so it may not be all that practical in that respect) and I couldn’t afford the insurance on it or even the tires for that matter, I still need it. Or do I? Since I’m not a race car driver and I’m totally unfamiliar with a car of such performance, the chances of me wrapping it around a pole and killing myself are probably pretty good. The same could be said of a junkyard lawyer in your divorce case. Will it cost a lot of money? Oh yeah! About 90% of divorce cases settle before going to trial but that’s not true for the junkyard dog attorney. Because he/she is obstinate, there is not much need in negotiation. The junkyard dog attorney will want to bury the other side in paperwork and have frivolous motions and hearings. Naturally, even if the other lawyer is not of the junkyard dog variety, he/she must retaliate and you have a very expensive all out legal battle on your hands. And while the junkyard dog might not kill you like the Veyron, you might wish you were dead before it’s over.
Judges don’t care much for the junkyard dog. I once saw one of these attorneys objecting every few seconds of a witness’s testimony. It was turning into a shouting match with the junkyard dog saying “objection” and the judge saying “overruled”. If you are thinking this is not productive, you are correct. If you have the junkyard dog attorney, I’m not saying you are going to lose your case. In fact some of these attorneys are great litigators (lots of practice). The areas where the junkyard dog can really hurt you are the discretionary decisions that could go either way. Should the judge go with litigant A or with litigant B that hired Mr./Ms. Bag of Flees? I’m thinking the judge goes with A.
It’s just my opinion, but I think you need a lawyer that works well with others and has mastered the art of negotiation. Your attorney will still need to make preparations for trial, but hopefully, it will not be necessary, unless of course, a trial is your real goal and not a settlement you can both live with. Leave the junkyard dog where he/she belongs, in the junkyard. Hopefully you will get everything you need in your case and not just what you want.
If you still want to hire a junkyard dog, let me know. I know a lot of them. And if you happen to own a Bugatti Veyron, just let me drive it around the block a few times. I almost guarantee nothing will happen to it.