Hey, guess who finally got around to answering all of your questions? Mr. Attorney Man! Below I am pasting the unedited and uncut word document sent directly from the man himself, with the exception that I added in a few pictures. Although he writes a good post, the dude only sent me three pictures... all of his office. So if you wanted to see part of his face or anything, you'll have to jump back here.
If you asked a legal question, it will be in the first half of this post. If the legal jargon bores you, skip to the second half of the post for his answers to what he referred to as "the mushy gushy stuff." I will say, I'm almost embarrassed to post this, he was much too kind to me in his answers.
Well, first I have to preface this article by providing a disclaimer that this has not been written to serve as legal advice that may be relied upon for any individual involved in a legal cause of action. I have not met with any of you, established a confidential lawyer-client relationship and you must refer to your local state laws in order to properly represent / defend yourselves in a legal cause of action. Further, I would highly recommend for anyone reading this article to consult with an attorney in your local area, most initial consultations will be conducted for free and navigating a legal case is not an easy task without some direction and advice from a professional. Second, I would like to apologize for the delay in my response to all of your questions. I have been politely coaxed by “Eden” for some time now to get back to all of you and unfortunately, I have been very busy as of late and unable to fulfill my promise. So, after many requests by “Eden” that began politely and became more and more pointed over the past month, I figured I needed to sit down and get this done.
So, it appeared to me that many of you had similar questions, so I will do my best to group them into topics and try to individually refer to each post as I go through this, but considering 98% of you posted “anonymously,” it makes my job easier. Here goes:
1) Child Support:
There were several questions regarding child support, as there always are in answering questions related to “family law,” or domestic relations, to be technical. The first sparked a bit of a heated debate between the commenters because the individual asked the question “Why are fathers allowed to be scapegoated.” People followed up defending mothers, the institution of child support and said “Fathers are not made to pay more than they can afford.” You know after having done this job for over a decade now, I can very honestly say that I agree with both sides…and before I dive in I have to preface this by saying that I hope this doesn’t upset anyone.
As a fair warning, I will say that I quickly forget about the cases where people get along, are reasonable, logical, mature adults and do not need an attorney’s help in raising their children or resolving disputes, but putting those cases aside, I can think of five clients that I have right now which would fall on each side of this issue. Personally, the theory that opposites attract seems to ring true in what I do because time and time again, I come across a Father that loves his kids, spends every minute that the Mother will allow with them and they make a great deal of money and pay a great deal of money in support….I find more often than not, that stereotypically they are dealing with a Mother on the other side that treats them horribly, speaks negatively to the children about them, refuses to give them any time with the kids or acknowledge their contribution, but always berates them for not giving enough. Whereas, I have many clients who are Mothers who bend over backward to be kind and considerate to a dead beat, who doesn’t pay, doesn’t assist them and ultimately burdens them with another child to watch over, rather than a parent. These clients inevitably are always posing the question to me, why won’t he just be a father and spend time with his children because they need him in their lives. Whereas I am posed the opposite question of why won’t she just allow me to spend time with my children on the other side of this stereotypical dynamic.
I don’t know why it is, but it is very common for me to encounter one of the two extremes. So, I can understand both sides of that argument and in response to the gentleman [I am assuming] that asked the question, I can understand your frustration. All states are different, but as an example that lends credence to your frustration, one client of mine comes to mind…he earns a great salary, but married a trust fund baby who doesn’t understand the value of a dollar. Although she only earns $25,000.00 per year, she spends money as if she earned ten times that amount. Her and her pompous attorney are regularly in court demanding that my client pay EVERYTHING on a monthly basis. My client is forced to pay a percentage of his income for support, another $1,000 a month in daycare, another $500-$1,000 a month in medical fees [mother is a hypochondriac that loves the emergency room], money toward the extra-curricular expenses and when all is said and done, he can barely afford to pay me to defend him and hasn’t even had cable in over a year because of what she is doing to him. I believe that he pays in excess of sixty (60%) percent of his income to her on a monthly basis after all is said and done. Conversely, I could give you a dozen examples of current cases I have at the moment, where women are forced to pick up all of the slack financially because they are forced to chase their ex for a portion of his part-time minimum wage salary that was obtained in a mere attempt to lower his support obligation.
So…needless to say, the one thing I have learned is that you cannot stereotype family law cases. Some of you are willing to jump and vehemently defend what you believe to be the ignorant position of a commentator, but trust me…..until you have seen many of these cases, you cannot quite understand the plight many people are put in on all sides of various issues when it comes to family law disputes. I often see men get screwed financially and in relation to their parenting time, while I could give you just as many, if not more, examples of women who are put in horrific circumstances because they are simply abandoned with more responsibilities than I could ever fathom. So….regarding support, I understand any and all situations, examples, emotions and viewpoints, regardless of which side of the fence you may be standing on.
A woman asked a more pointed question regarding withholding orders because she is hard-pressed to continue chasing her ex who quits job-after-job before she can get a stable amount of support through any one employer. This is a tough one because there isn’t a great answer. In my state [which I am quickly realizing I need to be discrete about in preparing my responses], there are State Enforcement Agencies in each county that will assist you in the “chasing,” it may take waiting six (6) months to be accepted into their “system” because they are overworked, but once you are in the system, my experience is they do the chasing for you. They haul guys in there once a month, make them prove income, issue bench warrants if they do not show up and really harass them with some pretty severe consequences. The best part is that you aren’t even required to appear in court because really, it has nothing to do with you as it is his problem. If that is a possibility where you reside, it will alleviate the necessity for you to assume the role of lawyer and chasing him consistently, but I commend you for doing it nonetheless! Also, to further my answer, if the Father of your children is not paying their support obligation, file a contempt petition against him and let the Judge know what you’ve gone through, how many times you’ve had to do this, what wages you have missed out on by attending court, that he is now “MIA” as you said, that he has failed to pay support and that you want a bench warrant issued for his arrest. When he gets pulled over or questioned by the police for any reason, he will be detained and forced to pay a large bond to be released, which ultimately should go to you (ask Eden though, doesn’t always get returned to you, so easily).
I received another couple questions regarding support, which tied in a few other issues, but I will do my best in addressing these questions as well. For instance, one person referred to a gentleman who was jailed and had tried to get out of child support several times over the life of the case, but upon his release he was attempting to reunify himself with the children after many years. First, I must say that it depends on your state, but most states define the term “emancipation” as the age of 18, or graduation from high school, whichever should last occur, but no later than the age of 19. That is the definition of emancipation and when the court will terminate child support and lose jurisdiction [or the right] to make decisions regarding your children, such as visitation. The person writing the question was concerned over introducing her former spouse to the children based upon his criminal history and behavior. In that case, I would not allow visitation and if he should bring you to court, you must inform the court of your concerns and why, but you must be organized and provide detail and evidence, rather than just your side of the story….judge’s aren’t really concerned with your opinion and considering they are lied to all day every day, your word, unfortunately is not good enough most of the time. I would recommend getting an attorney if you find yourself in this situation, if feasible, but a counselor for the child can also be of great assistance if you cannot because they can be your expert witness, if you will. They can provide an unbiased opinion of the child’s concerns, yours and even meet with your ex and make an assessment of them, without the cost of an attorney because they are covered by insurance, which we are not. They also become emotionally invested and will typically go above and beyond their job title. To more specially address this question though, if there is a gentleman seeking visitation with a questionable past, you want to inform the court of all facts that may support your position, provide certified records of arrest, pleas or findings of guilt, submit them to the court and request that visitation be denied. I would also recommend writing out an affidavit containing all of the “facts” that you want to submit to support your position and attach that to your petition. While you are in court, it will assist you in recalling all of the relevant facts that you wanted to present to the court and you may provide the Judge with a copy, which they may end up reading and alleviating you of the responsibility to explain all of the facts. Further, please be aware that if it doesn’t seem to be going your way and the Judge doesn’t seem willing to deny visitation all together, your next best result would be supervised visitation, which you need to request. If that seems to be slipping away, then you want “gradual reunification,” which are short visits that grow longer over time when visitation becomes more comfortable for everyone involved. Stick to your guns though and do not be shy in court, if you don’t request something or inform the court of any particular facts because you are confused and things seem to be happening to quickly and you don’t quite understand what is happening, then ask questions, remind the Judge of the reason that you are there and as a last resort, ask the Judge if you can request a continuance to retain an attorney because you are not a lawyer and need some assistance with your case. My experience tells me that the Judge will give you time to get a lawyer at any time, but at the same time be aware that the Judge cannot provide you with legal advice and will not assist you through the process.
2) Supervised Visitation:
There was a gentleman by the name of “Help a Dad Out” who asked several questions. He alluded to a situation where custody was taken away from a mother, who was now receiving supervised visitation. He was struggling with whether he should give her more time, should it be unsupervised and what his options are. First, I wouldn’t go outside a court order as general rule because it can begin to diminish the reason you needed that order in the first place in the court’s eyes. For instance, if you provide her with unsupervised visitation, I as the Judge would believe that you know her better than I do and if you are not scared to provide her with unsupervised visitation, then why would I support continuing with a more restrictive court order. Now in your situation, there is more that goes into it. First, I would say use a counselor to play middle man, rather than you bearing all of these very difficult decisions on your own. Another option would be to go through the courts and get a Guardian ad Litem or a Mental Health Custody Evaluator appointed and you will spend thousands of dollars and most likely get someone appointed who won’t be as invested or take as much time to really understand the situation, as a counselor would. Not to say that these options aren’t good, but if you are asking questions on this blog, I am guessing you don’t currently have an attorney, nor that you want to spend that kind of money… if that is the case and you use a counselor with a long history of involvement and who knows your child well, they can facilitate “family counseling” and a gradual reintroduction in a healthy manner. Then you have an unbiased third party, who is a mental health expert, who can evaluate her, your child and give you some advice in this regard. Also, the court appointed individuals will go away when the case ends and you are then stuck with your court order and you have to abide by it, no matter what happens thereafter. Whereas the counselor will continually monitor the situation, make fluid changes dependent on the circumstances and alleviate you from being the bad guy because you can defer to the counselor’s opinion, rather than having to be the scapegoat and fight with the other party yourself over any changes that may be in your child’s best interest, but not necessarily theirs.
As another option, if the supervised setting isn’t healthy and it’s affecting your child because it is awkward and uncomfortable for them, you can always do it in a public place as well, where even you are supervising across the dining room or McDonalds or whatever. It may be a little bit less awkward. Yet, upon you doing this, you are taking a step back from your order and you may be losing ground on why a professional supervisor was necessary in the first place if you are now side stepping it and giving her more normalized visitation, just be aware of that.
Further, my recommendation is that you should always be informed. You hold all the power here, so meet with her, meet with her family / roommates and make her prove that she has changed before you turn your child over and accommodate her requests. If she has to jump through a few hoops, it should be worthwhile for her considering that her number one priority should be seeing her child and she should be willing to do whatever is necessary to see him.
3) Termination of Rights:
I was debating on addressing this in the child support section, but I feel it deserves its own response. There was a question regarding a mother who dropped off her 10 year daughter and no longer wanted to be a parent and simply disappeared after giving her ex his weekend visitation. This question coincides with something I regularly hear from clients and it is a common misperception that I wanted to address. Contrary to what you hear in movies and TV, there is no such thing as signing away your parental rights. I hear this all the time and yes, it happens in some cases with extremely severe facts, but it is very rare and I don’t know where people get the idea this is so prevalent. Simply put….You cannot sign away your parental rights, unless there is another parent adopting the child. For instance, Father abandons his family and leaves Mother and child….Mother marries a new man, he petitions to adopt the child and the Father then agrees to sign away his rights to the adoptive father. This is possible because someone else is stepping into that role as parent. The state inherently does not want to become a parent for financial support purposes, so they will not let anyone off the hook and contrary to the movies and TV, it is not common that one can just simply sign away their rights. Concerning the person who asked the question, unfortunately, I don’t think you have all of the information and what you have been told is most likely not accurate. Your uncle should be in court, get an Order which actually provides him custody of his daughter (if he does not have it already) and he should pursue the Mother for child support and contribution to her daughter’s expenses. In fact, the commenter “Snork Maiden” hit the nail on the head and answered this question quite correctly.
As an example, which you should inform your Uncle of….I recently had a case where Mother married a new man who was in the military and they moved to Hawaii where he was being re-located. My client (Father) took the child in and paid for everything for this child, while Mother was not paying any support and not contributing to any expenses. After four (4) years, she moved back home and after exercising her agreed weekend visitation, she texted my client and said the child is not coming home and I am re-assuming custody. My client had no recourse, the only court order entered was the Order entered 8 years prior that provided her with custody. Not to mention, that he hired me to defend him because she filed a petition trying to get him to pay her support for the time that she was gone and he was raising the child, which technically she had a chance to win based upon the letter of the law. Why was this illogical result the correct legal answer? All because my client did not go into court and tell the court of what he and his former wife had agreed upon, which would have provided him a legal basis to re-gain custody and set aside his child support obligation as a result. If there is one lesson to be learned here, always get a court order to confirm what your agreements are because years down the road, people will lie to benefit themselves when it serves their own selfish best interest or money is on the line.
4) Default Divorce:
A commenter by the name of Haley asked a question concerning her Mother waiting for the right time to serve their father in order to get a divorce. She referred to him running away and her Mother being left with no options, but to stay married to this man. I hear this all the time and I want to say this…..if you have any legal case where you need to get someone “served,” to start the case and you cannot understand how to do that or how to properly get in court because the Judge keeps turning you away for service issues…hire a process server and get them served. It will cost you around $100 and upon serving the other party the process server will provide you with a document to file with the court confirming they have served them. In response to Haley’s question, if your Mother files a petition with the court to initiate the dissolution and gets a summons issued to start the case, she can then hire a process server and they track him down and give him the paperwork. That way he cannot deny service. After your Mother gets him formally served, f he doesn’t show up to court or participate, she may then file a Motion for Default and obtain a default Judgment for Dissolution and get divorced without his participation. For anyone reading this and taking this as actual legal advice, I must say that you have to consult your own state laws in this regard, but that is how it works in several states that I am aware of. For those of you who cannot get the other side of the case formally served, you would have to research what other hoops your state requires you to jump through to obtain a divorce without formal service. It may be “service by publication” or many other various forms that they will require, where you may have to publish notice in a newspaper, website or whatever methods your state has approved, but to answer Haley’s questions, no your mother does not have to stay imprisoned by her marriage. She may easily end it and get out of the situation if that is what she wants. My experience is that there are often many reasons that one party may not want to proceed, but running from service and avoiding it, is not really a plausible or justifiable reason that someone would remain married. I am guessing there is more to the story.
5) Marital Property:
An anonymous poster asked a question regarding placing her name on title for a home that is non-marital property. First, this area of law is state specific and you would need to defer to your state’s law to preface my answer. In my state, your house is non-marital property, meaning it is not yours and you are not entitled to it. He purchased it prior to marriage and in my state it would clearly be non-marital property. You may be entitled to some of the equity because it was paid down with “marital funds,” but in my state that would be his property. The person writing the question seemed concerned with the fact that they, not being an owner, could not have this document written up to transfer title, which is not correct. If you have the tax bill, that will have the PIN on it, take that document to a real estate attorney and ask them to draw up a Quit Claim Deed for you so that the property can be transferred from you husband’s name to both you and your husband’s name to be held in joint tenancy. If you are curious about the different ways that title can be held, go ahead and ask them, but as a married couple, you will most likely want joint tenancy. They will also request that you provide them with the legal description of the property, but if you are that far along, then ask your husband for the purchase documents so they can grab that description right off his original purchase documents once you are already most of the way through the process. A quit claim deed should not cost you more than a few hundred dollars to have prepared, maybe another $50 to record it and obviously it will make you sleep easier at night based upon the question. Also, you asked about placing the property in trust, I would recommend consulting an estate planning attorney / financial consultant. They can establish a trust for you and that is the most cost effective and beneficial way to transfer property upon a person’s death because of the tax benefits and ease of the transition, but I am not going to begin giving advice in that regard, please consult a lawyer or financial advisor who specializes in this area.
6) Reporting of Abuse:
Someone posted the following:
How can a child decide if (s)he is abused at home or not? When relatives make him feel inferior quite often in many ways, he cries inside, but still doesn't know if it is a real violence or just a human imperfection that others treat him that way? And he really want to get some help, but doesn't have nobody to turn? And is afraid that if he asks for help at school, his situation will become more "public", because the teachers have a duty to inform proper authorities? Is there something between the total revelation and total silence he can choose? How to find someone trusted who can look at everything more objectively? Excluding the help line, we assume he doesn't have a phone.
If I may be honest, I didn’t really understand the underlying reason of why this question was being asked because I am wondering what is really going on and what caused this question to be worded in the manner it was. So, first I will respond by saying that any form of physical or sexual abuse should be reported to some form of an authority, police, school, social worker, etc. If the abuse this child is suffering from is more of a mental or verbal form of abuse, then I would recommend seeing a counselor, whether at school or a private mental health professional, to help them work through the situation and/or determine if it has risen to a level warranting further intervention (police, school, etc.). I would hope that a counselor would keep this child’s confidentiality unless there is a very severe form of abuse or neglect going on here that warranted a mandated reporter call.
7) Eden and the personal questions:
I was surprised to see that a majority of your questions were not centered around the law or questions concerning my profession, but rather personal questions regarding myself or what it is like to know Eden in person. After reading over your questions and writing a draft of my response to the legal questions, I have to admit that I was not exactly pleasant in my response to Eden because when it comes to answering the legal questions that is easy for me. Yet, when I have to sit down and write a personal response about myself or even worse, someone else, I actually have to put some more thought into it, which is not what I was personally expecting to see. So, here goes…
First, I am not single and am very happily involved in a relationship with a wonderful girl. With that being said, while I am on my soapbox, people always ask me if I have been hardened by this job and if it scares me away from marriage and I have to say, if there is one thing this job has taught me is how important it is in selecting a partner and spouse. If this can carry over to advice that may help anyone reading this blog, I would have to say be careful. I have seen the worst in people, relationships and how horrible people can truly be at the end of a relationship. What one could envision of their spouse and who they truly are isn’t revealed in the passionate beginning of their relationship, when everyone is on their best behavior. It is only over time, when the honeymoon stage of a relationship has subsided when you will begin to see the true nature of your partner. It is only then that one can truly begin to understand who their partner is. It isn’t in the good times, but the bad that you will determine if you have selected someone that you can spend the rest of your life with. That choice is not one to be taken lightly as you are legally binding yourself to this individual in good times and in bad. So, coming from someone who sees the demise of a relationship on a daily basis, please choose wisely, do not take it lightly and do not rush into such a monumental decision. Your life and your future depend on that decision and please consider if this individual is someone who you can envision suffering through the bad times with and who will support you and lift you up, rather than burden you and bring you down when push comes to shove.
Second, someone asked me a question regarding how I found myself to be involved in the Pro Bono side of the law and why I would do such a thing. Please let me explain that as an attorney, your local bar association will often look to its members to represent individuals who have qualified for free services through the local legal aid society. In those instances you feel compelled to support your local bar association and heed their requests, so you take those cases, which are true “Pro Bono” assignments. In those cases, you are serving your local community, often rewarded with accolades and presented with an acknowledgment of your service through the members of your legal community. More often than not though, you don’t foresee yourself representing your client on a pro bono basis, but rather you feel compelled to continue helping someone that you have come to know very well, who you want to help and understand that they simply do not have the means to pay your hourly rate for all of the work that is required to be done to properly represent them. Obviously, as an example, Eden was someone who needed to be set free from the horrific relationship that she was in. She was a good person, someone that I could’ve grown up with or been friends with and she found herself in a situation where she absolutely needed my help. She has always paid me every dollar that she could afford and she is very appreciative for my assistance, but when her retainer was used up, I had a decision to make….to help my client and see the case through or put the almighty dollar first and focus on a paying client’s case. Personally, I didn’t feel that I had a choice in this case, as I had to do the right thing and see the case through. So, all in all, to answer your question….no attorney seeks out Pro Bono cases or would classify themselves as an attorney that takes those cases, unless you work for the state. What happens is that you come to know your client, feel for them and you feel compelled to help those clients, who are few and far between, that actually and legitimately need your help because it may be a life and death situation for this person, or their children, if you do not.
Now in regard to Eden, it is very hard for me to do justice to the person that you have followed and come to know through this blog in a mere few paragraphs. She has made monumental strides over the course of the past few years and to be honest, I truly feel that I am just now beginning to get to know the person that she truly is.
When I met Eden, I have to say [and I hope this doesn’t offend her] that she was a shell of the person that I have come to know now. From day one she has always been a bubbly, extremely positive, quick witted, sarcastic person that I generally enjoy talking to or being around. Yet, when I met Eden several years ago, she was much more timid, nervous, always looking over her shoulder, generally skeptical of the world around her and scared of what was to come. She had endured a lot and with good reason, she was worried about what the next hurdle to overcome would be or how things may go wrong. She would constantly question my advice because I didn’t quite understand her life, what she had been through and what may be the result of taking that course of action. Partially because she would never really tell me what was going on. She kept things very close to the vest and never shared any more information regarding her life than was absolutely necessary for me to help address the issue of the day. In fact, I came to learn more about her childhood and her marriage through this blog, rather than from her directly. I came to expect that when I spoke to her, she wasn’t going to tell me all the dirty details of what happened and that she would only give me enough information to do my job. Although I don’t quite understand it at times, I respect her for it in hindsight. I also have come to realize that I believe she did that because she didn’t want that to be the focus of her life, nor how others would judge or perceive her. She didn’t want that to define her life, nor who she was as a person.
I can honestly say that Eden is undoubtedly one of the most positive people that I have ever met. She never wanted to dwell on the negative aspects of her life or let it get her down. No matter what she is going through, how hard the road ahead of her is or how many things she may be dealing with at any given time… you would never know it. With me, it is often a problem because I never really know how bad things are until it has gone too far and she feels she has to reluctantly share the information with me because she doesn’t know what else to do. If it is the ex-husband harassing her, child support not paying her what she is entitled to or whatever it may be, I find out about it when things are already dire and the way she frames the problem to me, it often doesn’t resonate that it is an emergency because I only come to learn that she sold all of her furniture to make ends meet or is truly scared for her life, weeks or months after that information would have been useful to me and compel me to speed the legal process up as a result.
Eden has come a long way since the day I first met her. She is still the same person and there is no monumental change that has taken place, but I would like to believe that she has come to regain her self-image, self-confidence and purpose in life over the course of the past few years. She now sees herself, as I and others who have met her do. She truly is who you believe she is and her personality really does shine through in this blog. Clearly, I am sure that you have come to realize that she is a goofball. The first person to throw herself under the bus, embarrass herself and make light of it to everyone in the room, rather than apologize or be embarrassed she embraces who she is and revels in it. She is a smart ass and extremely sarcastic, with a great sense of humor. She is one of the only people that I find myself going back and forth with far longer than normal, cracking jokes and trying to out-wit the other; which says a lot because not too many people can keep up with me most times, but I find that it’s typically the opposite with her. Eden is also one of the most hard-working people I have ever met. Quite frankly, I don’t know how she does it. I wear my emotions on my sleeve and everyone in the room always knows how I feel about everything, which often leads to me complaining or justifying my frustration on how much I have on my plate with this job. Yet, she never responds in kind. If it is me writing her a nasty e-mail complaining about how much I have to do at work and how I don’t have the time to help with the blog, the not-for-profit or whatever it may be, she always responds extremely kindly and in an understanding manner. She lets me off the hook for what she desperately needed me to do and doesn’t fire back. Then, hours or days later, I realize that I don’t have children, I don’t have a crazy ex-husband, I am not managing a business, blog, not-for-profit, all while attending to hundreds / thousands of people e-mailing me about their personal problems. I am reminded that the problems in my life on a daily basis, pale in the comparison to hers. I then feel bad and apologize for even trying to complain to her, when my problems are laughable in comparison [sorry again by the way – writing this response to your questions definitely falls in that category].
I respect Eden, I truly do. She is a great person who is a light to those around her. She is an inspiration for others in so many ways and I am proud that I can say we are friends and colleagues. I feel protective of her and responsible for seeing that she becomes the success that I believe she can be in all facets of life. I would like to think that we share a brother-sister esque relationship and I have come to learn that we are eerily similar. From having the same type of car, to the fact that I often see pictures in the blog where she has stolen my taste in art, to the same interest in self-help / inspirational books to evaluate the key to life or the odd humor that we find in life, which others would find weird. She’s a strange one and one of a kind, but that is why I am here. That is why I support her and will continue to help her, even though it serves me no purpose. Other attorneys would’ve quit the second the retainer was used up and I considered it, my boss probably suggested it, but here I am. In the end, I think it will truly make a difference in both of our lives when all is said and done and I hope that I have impacted her life and helped her take a step in the right direction for her and her children [who are like the cutest kids I have ever met by the way – hilarious little ones who seem to be just as curious, energetic, unapologetic and upbeat as their mother].
In an attempt to answer all of the questions posed of me, a few of the questions asked how I feel reading her version of the events that I was involved in, if it makes me a better attorney and how I have learned from the victims of abuse associated with this blog. As Eden likes to point out to me on occasion, I have lived a privileged life. My parents are still together, I come from a great background, my dad was the little league coach, the cub scout leader. My mom was a stay at home mother. My parents showed me the world, never denied me any of the important things in life, supported me, were an example of who to strive to become and they gave me a great childhood, which resulted in me graduating from college and law school, without really ever enduring the horrific side of life that this job has exposed me to. I believe Eden refers to me as vanilla or something like that, but she’s right and I am the first to admit it. So, in thinking about it, the one thing that I have come to realize in reading this blog and your comments is the mindset of my clients and an understanding of how I can better serve them.
I am very direct and I often don’t take the time to understand where people are coming from because inherently I know what is best for them in their case. It comes with the job, my time is valuable, you pay me to make decisions for you, you have told me your problems, I know how to handle it, so follow my advice and do what I say. True lawyer response and sentiment, I know, but it’s true. Yet, in reading her perspective of the case or how a particular court appearance went or whatever it may be, this blog has given me a real insight into the mindset of my client. For me, it is just another court date, one day, like most others, where I am doing my job. I forget the emotion and the baggage that comes with mustering up the courage to even cross the court house doors. I forget that the one person in the world that my client doesn’t want to be in room with is there, they are going to have to face that fear and that I need to be more cognizant of my client’s feelings. That I have to keep in mind that I can’t begin to fathom the history, pain and emotion that are associated with my role in their lives. It has also taught me to understand the mentality of a woman who has been through an abusive relationship. After the hundreds, if not thousands, of cases I have been involved in, there have been many abuse cases. Yet, this blog is the only thing that really made me understand why my clients acted the way they did. Why they were so scared to take the action that everyone around them clearly saw was needed. Why they don’t seem to act in a logical and reasonable manner, at least in my opinion as the lawyer. Why they resist in following my advice. And, why I have to be aware of what they are going through as human beings and not treat them as just another file. It has taught me a great deal of things that I cannot begin to empathize with or understand, but must make a cognizant effort to consider in how I deal with them and pose their options to them.
It wasn’t until handling Eden’s case that I realized that “battered woman’s syndrome” is very real and how to deal with it on my end. She told me on many occasions that I was fired and that she was not going to proceed with the divorce because it was not worth it. I didn’t let her. I posed many questions to her about what she wanted for her children, for herself and that she could not continue living the life that she was because it was not healthy for her, nor her children, and that she deserved better. So….in looking back, what I learned was a valuable lesson. This blog and meeting Eden have taught me an understanding of an aspect of humanity that I never knew existed, could understand and it has made me a better person and a better lawyer as a result.
I hope I answered all of your questions and I look forward to the opportunity of continuing to follow along on this journey with all of you.
Mr. Attorney Man –
Yea, I totally named him that all on my own. Who would have thought the name would have not only stuck, but that you would all even be here!? I certainly didn't expect that!
So there ya go, about 7 hours of Mr. Attorney Man's time. Make sure you thank him in the comments section, I know he worked really hard on this!Latin For Lawyers