Thursday, May 24, 2007

Do I have FNG tatooed on my forehead?

So the other day, I was at court on a family law case, on a child custody dispute. Yay. Always a lot of fun.

My client, as a bit of background, has restricted access to their child because the opposition inserted in its last "supplemental" filing that they believed that my client was going to harm themself and their kids because of the client's despondency over the break up of the marriage. The court, upon seeing this ordered that my client lose custody of their child and have only supervised visitation for an indefinite period of time.

Did not matter that the client has no history of trying to hurt themself (i.e. commit suicide). Did not matter that statement which the basis for the oppositions believe that my client was a suicide risk came about during one of only 2 marriage counseling sessions which the opposition showed up for... and was explored by the then therapist who concluded that there was no danger of harm to my client or the client's children. Nope, the court simply cut off access (probably fearing an Andrea Yates situation) and said that the client could only see kids through a supervised visitation center.

Why did this court do this? Mostly because my client is not terribly articulate and was effectively ambushed by the other party and their attorney.

So today, the first time I am active in the case, I have the opposing counsel come up to me. Now I know what opposing counsel must have been thinking. It probably went something along the lines of, "I don't know him and since I've been practicing when Blackstone was still lecturing on law he must therefore be a) new and b) stupid."

I'm used to this. Mostly because I am still, comparatively in the world of law, a new face. However, when opposing counsel thinks like this, it leads them to make ludicruous statements. Just like today.

Opposing counsel stated, while we were talking about the case before going back before the judge, "We never had any intention of interfering with your client's custody."

Never had any intention? Let's think about this. Virtually the entire supplemental declaration which was filed before the lasting hearing dealt with one thing: my client's alleged mental instability and likelihood that my client was going to commit suicide or harm the children and then committ suicide. None of it, mind you based on anything that a mental health professional had said, all based on statement alleged, by the petitioner, to have been made by my client, the respondent. And I'm to believe that there was no intent on their part to make a grab for full custody this way? Especially when they neglected to include a return date by which the professionals who would supervise my client's contact with the children would provide a report regarding how my client interacts with their children?

The more I deal with family law practitioners the more I dislike most of them. Sure there are a few goods ones, like my cousin or the minor's counsel, I have dealt with on another matter, but so far the majority of them are starting to make understand why family law lawyers get shot by their clients so often.

Give me a landlord's attorney. At least they don't pretend to be your friend while they try and put the screws your client.

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