Lawyers are usually pretty good story tellers.  My mother gave me a big book about myths to read when I was growing up and I’ve given a big book of myths to my kids.  There are a lot of good stories in mythology.

Last night, I was watching Shark Tank, one of my favorite tv shows.  Kevin O’Leary used a story about the mythical goddess, Persephone, to make a point.

She was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, the harvest goddess.  She was garthering flowers when she was abducted by Pluto and taken to Hades.  Persephone became queen of  the underworld and the goddess who brings us Spring and vegetation.

Only O’Leary pronounced her name as “PERS-a-phone”.  Which does not sound nearly as good as the correct pronunciation, “Per-SEPH-a-nee”.

Greta Van Susteren has an idea for breaking the political deadlock in Congress.  She writes that every day of the year divorce lawyers sit down with warring spouses (who HATE each other) and manage to hammer out agreements.

She says it is not that hard to get people to work out solutions. All it takes is effort and perseverance.  She says divorce lawyers can do it so why can’t politicians.

Van Suteren’s message to Congress?  “Get to work!  Sit down and talk…figure it out!”  Maybe we should send some divorce lawyers to help Congress figure it out.

 

 

 

The morning of the divorce trial, lawyer Fred Holmes, woke up at 5:00 am without an alarm clock.

He stumbled downstairs to feed the cat and the fish.

He put away the dishes from the dishwasher, fixed himself a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, and added some fresh blueberries and skim milk.  He made a fresh cup of coffee with the Netpresso machine and poured in some Amaretto flavored cream.

He flicked on the tv to watch the morning news while he ate his breakfast.  The international situation was desperate as usual.

Then he did 15 minutes of P90X Plyometrics and 100 pushups in sets of 25 with a few minutes rest between each set.

After a shower and shave, he picked out a white shirt, red power tie, and his best grey suit.

He drove to the office.  He polished his shoes to a high black gloss.  He threw his pen, phone, yellow legal pad and files into his litigation bag.  Then he drove to the courthouse.

The judge asked, “Is Counsel ready for trial?”

Fred said, “Ready, Your Honor.”

“The international situation–desperate, as usual.” – Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

I saw on the news that NATO representatives are talking about giving Putin a deadline to withdraw from Crimea or they will impose sanctions. Commentators say Putin doesn’t like to be pushed around and will likely ignore the deadline.

It reminded me of those clients who want me to give their spouse a deadline for responding to a settlement offer in divorce negotiations. One you are in litigation, the court issues a Scheduling Order which contains various deadlines. But a deadline imposed by one lawyer or the other is an amateur way to negotiate.

What do you do if the deadline is ignored? Unlike NATO, I have no sanctions to impose. Lawyer deadlines are unenforceable. You have damaged your credibility. Your opponent doesn’t want to be pushed around. It is easier to settle with someone you like than someone you don’t like. I prefer to ask when I might expect a response rather than giving a deadline I have no way of enforcing.

My son is too cool to be in the chess club at middle school. He thinks it is too nerdy. What can I say? I was a nerd.  I joined the chess club when I was in middle school. Only it was called junior high back then.

I played a lot of chess in my youth. I thought I was pretty good. That is until I met Marc. I met Marc in the army. He was a chess master. While waiting for the Viet Nam war to wind down, we had a lot of time on our hands. So Marc taught me chess.

I already knew how the pieces moved and how to checkmate. I thought that was all there was to know about chess. Marc opened my eyes.

I learned about power, time and space. I learned that each piece had a value and some pieces changed value depending on what stage of the game you were in. I learned that there was an open, middle and end game. I learned tactics with names like pin, fork and x-ray attack. There was a whole new level of complexity to the game I had played for years unaware.

I think this is true in practicing law as well, and divorce law in particular. When I started practicing, I knew the law (how the pieces moved) and how to win a trial (checkmate). But over the years, I have learned that my cases and clients have many more levels of complexity than I had first supposed.

Guest post by Evelyn Crowther

It’s rare that the process of divorce doesn’t bring conflict. Even the most embittered among us can hardly fail to be impressed by those who manage to go their separate ways without resorting to arguments about property, children or finances; and have somehow managed their separation in a minimally destructive way. It’s all too easy to get caught up in angry exchanges, both verbal and legal as we fight for our rights. There’s often a desire to prove ourselves the victim of terrible injustices, and have our spouse seen as the perpetrator of all wrongs, but the way we go about the process can be extremely self-sabotaging.

Amid the haranguing about who did what to whom, who gets the house, the car and the blame, there’s one highly underrated trophy; worth more than money or property, or even the need to be right. It’s our dignity.

Coping with the process of divorce will likely be one of the most emotionally draining and stressful periods of a lifetime, with survivors are often left feeling as though we’ve been put through the hot wash cycle and hung out to dry. We can find that we’re left with a loss of self-respect and a great deal of embarrassment, when we realize that far too many aspects of our conflict have been made public and there is literally, nowhere to hide.

If we can resist the strong pull of self-disclosure we are more likely to maintain a sense of self-worth and come away with our heads held a little higher. We all need a trustworthy friend with whom to share our deepest worries, but do we really need ten and their hairdressers? Gossip can easily get out of hand, and before we know it, that comment we made in the heat of the moment, has resulted in previously supportive friends now taking the other side. It takes courage and integrity not to escalate a situation where we feel we are being wronged, but by engaging in public warfare we lose more than we bargain for. If we can resist the urge to bad mouth our partner, we maintain dignity and greater long term privacy, when we are starting to rebuild our lives. Don’t shout from the rooftops – leave the shouting to the lawyers.

A documentary, “Divorce Corp.”, narrated by Dr. Drew Pinksky, opens in 16 cities this month.

The movie exposes some unethical and corrupt practices in the $50 billion divorce industry.

Some women’s rights organizations have called for a boycott of the film because they say it dwells too heavily on father’s rights.

Guest post by Alfred Jacobs who writes on behalf of Jarmanlaw about divorce laws, Oklahoma City family law attorneys, and more.

There are 50 states and the District of Columbia in the US. Each jurisdiction has a unique way of considering marriage and divorces. State divorce laws vary widely on the matter of dissolution of marriage bonds, child custody, visitation rights, support, property distribution and alimony. In almost all states, for the separation to be legal, it must be certified by a court. The path to a court decree may be through mutual, pre-agreed terms or a highly contested, acrimonious legal battle.

It helps to have a legal attorney by your side conversant with the specific state divorce laws applicable to your case and to where you are living and filing for divorce. Complicating the issue is the matter of child custody and visitation rights factored into the state divorce laws. State divorce laws of the state where you reside apply to divorce proceedings, not where you were married and there is a minimum residence time required as well, with each state specifying different periods. State divorce laws allow for divorce petitions on grounds of a fault, on no fault basis or mutual consent. Some states require a suitable time interval after separation before a divorce petition can be filed.

Should you proceed on grounds of a fault, on a no-fault basis or seek mutual consent for a divorce? Which method would yield the maximum benefit for you out of dissolution of the marriage and safeguard your interest as well as that of your children?

These are matters your attorney can help you decide based on his expertise, depth of knowledge of state divorce laws and the merits of your case. A caring, compassionate lawyer knows all that is involved in divorces and does his best to resolve differences in the first stage. That failing, he will get both parties together to arrive at a mutual understanding on the terms of separation and institute divorce proceedings only as a last resort should neither side be willing to compromise.

Justin Steen, a divorce lawyer, woke up without an alarm every morning at exactly 5:00 am.  After his workout routine, he arrived at his office at 7:00 am and start organizing his day.  The phone rang at 9:00 a.m.

“Mr. Steen, it’s Julie Palmer,” said the caller, “You’ll never believe what my husband did now.”

“What did he do, Julie?”

“He booked our twelve year old on a ski trip without even telling me!”

“That’s outrageous.  I’ll call his attorney right now and follow up with a strong letter.  Don’t worry.  This will work against him when we get to trial.”

As soon as Justin hung up with Julie, the phone rang again.

“Hello, Mr. Steen, this is Ken Stevens,” said the caller.  “My wife has our daughter stuck in a day care center which is boring and just a glorified baby sitter.  I want to enroll her in a horseback riding program for the summer and my wife is against it.

“Why that’s outrageous.  I’ll call her lawyer right now and follow up with a strong letter.  Don’t worry.  This will work against her when we get to trial.”

A Story of Balancing Mother’s Rights and Father’s Rights

“My client was shocked to learn that your client has enrolled their 5 year old son in the swim team at the community pool,” the letter from the mother’s divorce lawyer started.

The father’s lawyer scanned it to the father by email.  By the next day he had received three drafts of a four page letter from the father explaining all the benefits of swim team.  The father wanted the lawyer to send the letter to the mother’s attorney.

“Wait until I speak with her,” the lawyer told the father.

“Why?” asked the father.  “I want her to know, for the record, that I’m not the bad guy here.   And I didn’t do it just because my new girlfriend is the coach of the swim team.”

“First of all,” replied the father’s lawyer, “she won’t believe you.  Second, there is no record.  Third, I don’t try my case in letters.  And finally, I don’t know why, but my intuition and experience tell me to wait until I speak with opposing counsel.”

Five days later, the mother’s attorney called.  The mother was concerned that she had been left out of the decision making process.  She wanted to know how many lifeguards were on duty, their ages, and what training they had.  These were easy to provide and the problem was solved. The father’s letter was put in the file and never sent.