By Attorney Howard Iken: Sometimes my work is very tiring. I hear so much deeply-personal information from people: money, sex, violence, desperation. I am submerged in the facts of other people’s lives. Facts that were not meant to be public information. Facts that were meant to be told only to close friends or lovers. But in the average divorce or custody case the facts come spewing out in a very public way – kind of like what comes out of someone that is being exorcised. You would think it would be interesting to see and have access to so much information. But it isn’t too pretty and would probably make the client flinch if they saw an image of themselves many years from now. And I am so submerged in personal facts that they have ceased to stir the type of interest you would think. Instead I look at the facts as screws, bolts, and building blocks of a successful case.
That reminds me of a case where I came into possession of a “how to divorce” manual that was in the possession of an opposing party. My client happily brought the document in one day – and it was something I have never seen the likes of. The “manual” was almost thirty pages long. It addressed every conceivable situation. Scared of alimony? The manual advised the reader to “accidentally” lose their job. Living too high on the hog? Slowly cycle things down and live like a pauper. The manual was a complete horror story of how to ruin your spouse’s live, how to ruin your own life, and then do great in court. Made absolutely no sense to me. But the one thing I did keep in mind – the eventual glory of using that manual as evidence at trial against that person. Unfortunately (or very fortunately) the case settled at mediation.
I find myself face to face with people on a daily basis discussing and analyzing these very-private facts. I struggle not to become hardened – as I see happening in many other attorneys and judges. But the one thing that goes on without interruption – collecting evidence, calculating strategy, and preparing for the worst.