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
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
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.