By Attorney Howard Iken: The Games People Play. Isn’t that a song? It certainly is! And if you have not already guessed why I mentioned that song, please read on. First, a quick lyric:
Oh the games people play now
Every night and every day now
Never meaning what they say now
Never saying what they mean
That sounds awfully familiar. Hmmmm …. wait a minute. That sounds a lot like how some family law attorneys run their cases. I see it every day. Some attorneys are worse than others. Some are completely above board and don’t play games. And some counties are worse than others. But if you are a divorce or custody attorney in Florida, you must be prepared for the Games People Play. Or to be more accurate, The Games Attorneys Play.
I could say I have never have seen anything like it in my life. But that statement would not be true. Everyone plays games; spouses, friends, enemies, and total strangers. It’s human nature. You can’t blame them because we as humans are simply built that way. Games have many purposes in life. But in family law, games have specific themes. Some have purpose, others are meaningless. But it is very important to know the different games people play:
Delay – the most common game has the goal of stretching out a case. A party that stands to lose the most in a court hearing has the most to gain by delaying that hearing. For example: a parent that has the kids and refuses to let the other parent see them. A court hearing could change that. So delay can be king. Some family law attorneys pretend to be solidly booked up for months. One attorney I dealt with in the past is always “in trial.” No matter what time of day, or which day of the week – they are in trial. Sometimes they are on vacation and are still in trial. Some attorneys simply will not return a phone call. An in some counties (names withheld) it is next to impossible to get an agreement on a hearing date. Whatever the reason, delay is a frequent tactic and is used by a large part of the attorney population.
Run up bills – Some attorneys run up their client’s bill. Many times this is done under the guise of a “high end representation.” If you look at the flow of many cases, they consist of a meaningless flow of scheduling, cancelling, fighting over disclosure, and almost ridiculous documents. Anything to run up the bill – that is the agenda used by some family law attorneys.
Frustrate – lets face it … some people can take stress more than others. Some people have little tolerance. And that includes attorneys. Delay, phone tag, meaningless documents, and constant faxes will bother some lawyers. A lot of times that sort of behavior will drive them off of a case.
General fun – I hate to say it but many attorneys think playing games is good, clean-fun. Yes, attorneys like to have fun. But the problem is that some attorneys equate games with good representation.
How does that song go again?
Cause you’ve given up your sanity
For your pride and your vanity
Turns you sad on humanity
And you don’t give a da da da da da
Sometimes taking a look at music helps me make sense of the legal profession. This one song definitely does. It is good fun to look at and think of the attorneys that continually play the Games People Play.
Meanwhile – back to the fun. Anticipating, redirecting, and defeating the games. That is my job and I try to do it well. Meanwhile, I hope you will enjoy some more of the lyrics from The Games People Play:
They’re gonna teach you how to meditate
Read your horoscope, cheat your faith
And further more to hell with hate
Come on and get on board
Oh the Games People Play !