Forfeit the Game


By Attorney Jennifer Schulte:  Today I had a small victory during trial.  I wanted the “big win” even though I continuously tell clients no one “wins” in family law.  I mean, either way you look at it, someone’s life is being thrown out there for a judge to decide their fate.  I have had clients get even more than they asked for and still there are tears and distress afterward.  But today, I was looking for that pat on the back.  It was a supplemental petition to modify the final judgment in relation to time-sharing.  Parties divorced recently and one party wanted to move out of state.  Instead of following the law (Florida Statute 61.13001 Relocation) the party simply alleged that they had a desire to move out of state and it would be good for the child because that parent would have a better economic possibility in the new state.  I was very confident walking into that courtroom today and so was my client.  I had my three sets of case law printed out.  I had my notes and questions for each party.  I had my argument typed up.  I was there early and wearing one of my best suits.  The judicial assistant likes me, I have had several cases in front of this judge recently and the rulings have been in my favor.  So why the “small victory” you ask?  Well, the other side forfeited.  They simply voluntarily dismissed their pleading.  If we had counter-sued then the hearing would have gone on but only related to our pending matter.  But my client did not want the change so there was no basis to counter sue.  Instead of going through a four hour trial we were only in front of the court for less than an hour.  We reserved as to reimbursement of attorney’s fees so we can still go after the other party for fees.  It is like going to a game and you have your tickets, you have your drinks and snacks, you are dressed for the game, pumped up and then at the beginning the other side just gives up/forfeits.  You are glad your team won but it is a bitter sweet win.

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