Please Note: Effective June 6, 2018, future Legal Clinic meetings have been suspended. This page is for historical purposes
and perhaps of some benefit for you.
NOTE: There may be occasions when a scheduled Guest Attorney is not able to attend. Thus, we cannot guarantee an attorney presence at our meetings.
Rent these two family dissolution movies to understand family law as seen by fathers:
The respective messages are: Senseless warfare is common in family law disputes; and Dad's sometimes can't surmount underlying maternal preferences.
Dad and Mom are legally tied together through their biological minor Kids. Dad and Mom have parenting obligations to their Kids that are legally enforceable nearly worldwide whether married, never married, already divorced, or the Kids were unintended. Denial of love and access to both parents leads to emotionally disadvantaged kids.
Innumerable agencies are ready to collect financial support. Sadly, few agencies have any interest in enforcing visitation. Litigation is often necessary.
An increasing percentage of Dads have residential custody of their Kids, and more Moms are paying child support and alimony, and expecting visitation. Other variations include adoption and in-vitro fertilization.
Courts dread deciding family law issues because anger, unhappiness, and dissatisfaction are guaranteed for everyone except lawyers ($200+/hour), and other legal and mental health system savants ($90+/hour). That's why Courts strongly prefer mediation where Dad and Mom cooperatively resolve all their issues.
When you become adversaries, and someone believes their side is stronger, issues often fall back into the courtroom. Lawyers ($200+/hour) on both sides predict victory. Paperwork, deadlines, postponements, interrogatories, discovery (includes testifying against yourself!), mental evaluations, nothing, waiting, delays, surprises, then your day in court arrives. You believe the other side is lying. In the hallway outside your courtroom on judgement day, many give in and resolve everything. You can't. Different judges, on different days, drinking different coffees, hearing from different attorneys, understanding the same "facts" differently, would issue widely varying decisions. Your judge decides. A new lawyer ($200+/hour) insists "You were robbed! Appeal to a higher court!" Mom and Dad look for another lawyer to find new legal wounds to scratch. More time, $$$, and aggravation.
New "significant others", remarriage, jobs, homes, illnesses, and Kids just getting older, have all been known to initiate parental litigation even between heretofore cooperative parents. This continues until your Kids are grown.
Excepting the enforcement asymmetry between money and visitation, the current legal trend is towards formal gender neutrality. This is an enormous shift from the 18th century and earlier, where men had rights, women were property with weak rights, and children were just property. Today's women are advantaged when appearing before judges raised to believe that marriage is forever, women are fragile, and parents won't vengefully use family law. As products of broken families rewrite family law and ascend to the bench, we can hope for a lessening of actual gender inequities.
The law values finality and process over truth and justice. Finality prevents the losing side from retrying the identical issues over and over. Process tries for greater fairness and consistency of judgements by following innumerable rules about "hearsay" evidence, deadlines, "dirty hands" penalties, ... But notice that a truth discovered wrongly (unconstitutional, threats, ...) or too late (after trial, after a 30-day appeals deadline, ...), isn't admissible, and therefore finality trumps justice.
Fathers under the enormous strain of family breakup, are often persuaded to sign excessively burdensome Separation Agreements. Other Fathers withdraw into their "cave" to emotionally recover, then emerge after various family law deadlines have passed. Correcting these emotionally coerced mistakes is challenging and sometimes not possible.
Fathers (and all litigants in general) need to understand that you generally get a single chance at any given legal issue. This is why you need the best legal advice and your strongest legal arguments before you enter the courtroom. Wrongful decisions can be appealed, but lightning strikes more often than appeals courts reversing lower court decisions. Thereafter, some statutory review interval or "significant change in circumstances" must occur before you'll be allowed a second chance.
These questions are about Dad, Mom, and their biological minor Kids.