My recap of recent events:
I have been working on a case in Tampa where the other party tried to pull a fast one. This is a jurisdiction case – where we fight over which state should be the one to make decisions about a minor child. I won the first and second rounds, which should have pretty much ended some of the controversy. But the other attorney filed an emergency petition in a completely different court. The problem is that attorney did not tell the court that a different court already made key decisions. That is a HUGE ethical can of worms. The emergency went nowhere after I got involved in the emergency case. Now, there are some pretty big ethical concerns for the other attorney. But that is not my department.
Attorney fees have been an issue lately. A lot of people cannot pay their own attorney so I have been busy trying to get orders against the other side to pay my fees.
A lot of judges are slowly moving toward a default 50/50 split in timesharing. That appeared to be happening during the last year but the recent proposed legislation seemed to speed it up. I think that proposed legislation gave teeth to the concept and has made it more acceptable for judges to adopt. Along the same lines; it has been a lot harder to get permanent alimony awards. Again, the proposed law appears to have caused that trend. There seems to be a push for people to go out, get a job and make your way in the world. There are quite a few women serving as judges and they are examples of success. Those judges tend to have a more self-sufficient outlook on life. They both raised children and worked toward a professional career. That tends to promote a more balanced view of cases.
Lately judges have appeared more willing to relate to men that do not want to be a “weekend dad.” This generation seems to be shifting to a greater equalization on gender parenting issues.
Recent interesting things:
Regarding the shift to more equal parenting rights … I think the studies that come out years from now should be very telling. Parenting rights between the sexes are being rebalanced – but how will that affect children?
I have a Big hearing coming up this week – the Marital Settlement Agreement says that a relatively quick Motion hearing can be used to modify child support. The other party overpaid over the last year and wants it paid back. I do not think that would be in the best interest of children to pay back all those months.
I have become aware that many attorneys are not putting sufficient thought into division of retirement accounts. They tend to put retirement account language in Marital Settlement Agreements but that language is not necessarily well thought out. Many attorneys feel they can sit back and rely on whoever prepares the QDRO to correct any issues. Well, that is not the case. People should really spend money on an expert to devise language that protects their interests.
Surprising facts department:
Still surprised how some people act in an unprofessional manner. I am talking about other attorneys. They appear to take on the personality of their clients. That is ok unless the client gets really emotional, mean, and their behavior is over the top. Some attorneys mimic that behavior and it makes for a very high-conflict case. It is almost like the attorney and client traded places. Attorneys do not do a good job if they are overly emotionally invested. They do not think clearly before they do critical things that can affect their case. They file documents with language that demonizes the other party. These documents may live forever in public records. For example, no one needs information about an STD in public records. Clients see the behavior from their attorneys and think it is normal and appropriate. Not every attorney is like that – only about 5%. But that number is increasing as more young attorneys in graduate and start their own practice. Sometimes police officers behave inappropriately with potential victims because they might be using their personal experience in the family law courts to dictate how they treat the party in front of them – like they may not take a child abduction case seriously if the officer is a male and the kidnapper is a male father.
My outlook for the next few weeks:
I have a relocation case winding its way through the courts. Those are really difficult to win. I was pleasantly surprised when the judge granted a temporary relocation because most judges tend not to allow that.
I will be taking a little bit of time off to see my husband’s grandmother. She has only seen my child once. That will be a short, 3 day weekend. There will be lots of family to please and accommodate, which is sometimes very stressful. But family is important. After all, that is why I am a family law attorney.
What I would want my clients to know:
Being prepared – even if you must keep a journal, even if results are better than you expect. Sometimes journals are not needed, and a lot of work went into them. But in the big picture the journal provided crucial backup. It can save time and money when the client is prepared and ready for the court date.