Category Archives: Opinion

Know What is Going on in Your Case!

There have been countless times that I have spoken to a potential client (PC, not to be confused with a personal computer), that has been represented by another attorney, and the PC does not know what is happening in their own case.  This is unbelievable to me.  They do not know what was filed, they do not know if it has been set for trial, they do not know who the judge is.

A Family Law case is just about the most difficult thing that you do as an adult, short of a death of a close family member.  And in some instances Divorce can be worse because it’s the “death” of a marriage and you still have to co-exist with the other party.  At least if they were dead you wouldn’t have to deal with them.  Glib humor aside, Family Law is hard.

David Castillo Dominici/ freedigitalphotos.net

As a client you should know what has been filed; a Joint Complaint or a Fault based Complaint, you should know if you have Court coming up, and you should know who the Judge is.  Now, if you were told all of this and chose not to place this info into your permanent memory banks because you have confidence in your attorney and your goal is to get through today, that is ok.  But, if you don’t know the details because it has not been explained to you, it is time for a sit down and a heart to heart, seeing eye to eye with your attorney. (BTW, all attorneys have been guilty of this a time or two…)  Don’t be afraid to ask  who, what, when, where and why?  Their job is to answer those questions.

Now in defense of attorneys, sometimes we do explain things and they are misunderstood or are somewhat complex and a short explanation has to do for the meantime.  Persons going through Family Law situations can be highly emotional and sometimes it’s information overload.  In that circumstance you may choose NOT to explain everything or  ask that a family member or trusted friend attend with the client for an in-person meeting.   Sometimes the attorney is speaking pig-latin, a bad habit.

As a client, ask what is going on. Know what is going on.  It is the rest of your life.  (It may just be another case for the attorney.)

Dads Have Rights Too!

(I recently spoke to a group of fathers, and a few others, about a Father’s Rights in a custody action. I also had a request, this week, from an online fan about blogging specifically about Father’s Rights. I agreed to do it, but these “Rights” apply to parents regardless of gender.)

Dads Have Rights Too!

One of the most frustrating things in my practice is a father who says he wants rights to his children but is unwilling to put his money where his mouth is, figuratively and literally.  Those dads want the “fun” parts of the job and to spend time with the children, but do not want to do the “work” and do not want to pay child support or think whatever they are paying is enough. So first things first, pay your support, pay it on time and pay it every time. And when the need arises pay for something extra. With the support issue out of the way, in an initial custody determination, be it a divorce situation or a paternity/custody matter, mom and dad are on a level playing field.  Yes, equal.  Equal at least as far as the facts support that statement.

Great Dad

 

In a divorce situation or a paternity/custody matter, mom and dad are on a level playing field.  Yes, equal.  Equal at least as far as the facts support that statement.

 

 

The Court must conduct what is called an Albright Analysis (blogged about earlier, click here).  This analysis looks at a number of factors including, the continuity of care* or who has been doing what for the child up to that point where you find yourself in Court, and what is in the best interest of the child. (*in initial determinations this is the biggest factor, barring extraordinary circumstances).

If you are dad and 1) have been doing the bulk of the child care, 2) are a good, 3) safe, and 4) active parent there is no genuine threat to you in a custody battle because of your gender.  However, if mom has been doing the 1) day to day care, 2) taking to and from school and3)  the doctor and 4) soccer and 5) everything else, and you, as dad, spend time with the children on the weekends when you are not at work – just because mom gets custody does not mean the system was fixed and the mom always wins.

Now the law does recognize a term called the tender years doctrine – which states a very young child should be with the mother, unless there is a compelling reason why the child should not, ie: mom is unfit- meaning a danger to the child.  Sometimes if your child is very young and mom has the controls you just have to bide your time.  The tender years ends between 2-3 years of age, with no definite, exact age.

But dads can and do get custody if the facts are there to support that outcome.

The other big peeve is dads that do not exercise their visitation.  There is common acceptance out there that standard visitation is every other weekend (EOW), Friday to Sunday, Wednesday afternoons when you don’t have the weekend, alternating major holidays and 4-5 weeks in the summer.  And some dad’s don’t take advantage of it.  I call “standard visitation” a misnomer because there is technically no such thing as “standard visitation,” though that is in fact what is quite often ordered and/or agreed to.

But there is also a trend, over the last several years, where dads are getting more time, if they want it and meet a few other requirements.  If dad has been an involved dad, wants more time and the parties live in the same community that EOW can be expanded to Friday to Monday or Thursday to Monday of every other weekend.  Research shows that dad being responsible for a school night results in the kids doing better. It also makes dad responsible for time that is not all “Fun” time AND it puts most of the pick-up and drop-offs at school, which means less of a chance of an altercation with mom.  Dads can be more than every other weekend dads if they are willing to do it.

Go to their ballgames, school programs, and dance recitals.  Know who their teachers are and doctors.  Don’t rely on mom for all of that and be mad when she does not give it to you.  Get it yourself.  How?  Go to the school. Call the Dr.’s office. Mississippi law provides  a means for you to have the right to those records.  MCA Section. 93-5-26. (click here).

Finally, don’t be intimidated by mom and her lawyer. Hire a lawyer. (Don’t say you can’t afford one, you cannot afford to NOT have an attorney).  Mom and her attorney will not run you over unless your conduct provides them the truck to do it. And if your conduct does provide that truck, STOP.  Act right. Do it for your children and yourself.

Why the Bow Tie?

Okay, here is the blog that ALL of you have been waiting for.  Why the Bow Tie?  Why do I wear it? Where did it come from?  Do you tie it yourself?

First of all, yes.  My bow ties are real and I tie them myself.  Tying one is very similar to a shoelace, it’s not hard, just takes some practice.

Where do I get them?  Most any place that has ties.  I get most from Belk or similar type stores.  I have a few really “nice” ones from fine men’s haberdasheries, but their quality is not far superior to any others. I have a few from on-line places and several were gifts. Always a good gift. Hint, hint.

Several years ago I was having lunch with Mark Chinn (legal mentor, former boss, and still great friend ) and we were discussing branding. Mark wears nice suits and wears a hat. He has a fedora hat, actually several, and he wears them in part as his style, but also for practical reasons like sun protection.  He is well-known and identifiable by his hat(s).  As we discussed my brand, I wanted something simple, memorable, different and not a hat.

If I had started wearing hats and stood next to Mark in his, I would look ridiculous. Like Twins with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito ridiculous.

What about a bow tie?  We had a firm event coming up, our annual divorce firm Valentine’s party (aren’t we clever), and I thought that would be a fine time to unveil the bow tie.  I went to Mozingo Clothiers, just up the street from my office and with Charlie’s help picked out a fine pinkish, purplish bow tie, that looked quite festive. Charlie showed me how he ties them, tied it for me and I left with the tie pre-tied.  It had buttons on the back, as most do.

As I mulled over wearing the bow tie, I thought, “everyone is going to ask if I tied it…I have to say yes, truthfully.”  I untied it, having never tied a bow tie before and on my second attempt did a pretty fine job, with the help of Charlie’s lesson and a great you tube video.

That night I had lots of compliments and of course, “Did you tie it yourself?”  I crowed “absolutely”.  I have worn a bow tie ever since.

I have had many compliments in Court, at Court, and from Court on the bow tie.  My best story from Court was when I appeared for the first time in front of an out of county Judge, meaning a Judge I do not appear before regularly .  She commented on my tie approvingly.  Court went fine.  I was back in her Courtroom some weeks later and had my back turned as the Judge approached me and asked me to turn around so she could see what color bow tie I was wearing that day. I knew I was on to something.

That is why I enjoy and wear bow ties. To be different, to be remembered and because its my style.