Articles and Other Thoughts of the Day
If you have ever met me, you probably heard me say, “act in a manner consistent with your goals.” So, what does that mean in the course of any family law case? It means what it says: figure out what your goals are, then try your best to execute those goals.
Let me give you an example (the following example is an exaggerated set of “facts,” not based on anyone I have actually met, and only offered to give you an idea of what NOT to do):
Let’s say you have been married for nine (9) years and have five (5) children with your spouse. Eighteen (18) months ago, you moved to Europe and have not seen, or even spoken to, your children. Not once, in eighteen (18) months. You are now back in Fort Collins and want to file a divorce. You have questions about custody, a.k.a. the allocation of parental responsibilities, and we meet to discuss your case. In our initial consultation you tell me you want to be the primary residential parent of all of your children and your spouse should only have supervised parenting time. Your spouse is fine, a pretty good parent, you just want him/her out of the picture. You haven’t seen the kids in 18 months, and it is your turn to care for the children.
See the problem? If you believe it is in your children’s best interests for you to be the primary residential parent, then it’s probably not a good idea to disappear for 18 months. You were not acting in a manner consistent with your goals.
OK, that was an absurd example, but it does show why it is important to behave in a way that is consistent with the outcome you want. If you are acting contrary to your goals, your actions may be persuasive evidence of how things should continue. If you think equal parenting time is best for your children, then do the best you can to execute equal parenting time. If you believe your children need another parenting time schedule, do your best to execute that schedule. And if you are in an unsafe environment, please get help immediately.
If your soon-to-be-ex-spouse does not agree with your goals, then we have methods to accomplish the goals during the dissolution of marriage proceeding, i.e., emergency orders (with allegations of imminent harm), a temporary orders hearing, experts, negotiation, mediation, etc. For today, I encourage you to spend some time trying to identify your goals. Then give me a call so we can discuss how to accomplish those goals.
Yep, I admit it, I think they are hilarious! Feel free to send me your best lawyer joke (with permission for me to use your prose in a future blogs).
I’m not sure why I get so amused by lawyer jokes as the vast majority of attorneys I encounter are honorable, ethical and all-around great people. I feel very honored to be a member of the bar in Fort Collins because the people I met have had a great impact on how I practice law. I have observed numerous, excellent, lawyers whose behaviors I (hopefully) incorporated into my practice; and, yes, I have observed a few behaviors I try to avoid.
So why are lawyer jokes so prolific (and amusing)? Perhaps it is because the legal process can seem daunting and “knocking it down a few pegs” with humor helps us emotionally. That’s fair, and why I strive in every case to make sure my clients understand the process, law, evidence, etc., before they make crucial family decisions.
Perhaps it is because we are angry. That is also fair. Family law can be challenging and emotional. I try to never forget that you are going through a very difficult time. Whether you are involved in a divorce, custody dispute or child support modification, you may be feeling overwhelmed and angry. I believe the process attempts to be fair, but I also understand there are times you may not feel like it accomplishes this goal. Humor can help, though it is only 1 tool in the tool-box. A well balanced support system is also recommended. Include in your tool-box a counselor, financial planner, parent, or just a really good friend.
Maybe, and quite possibly, lawyer jokes are funny because we lawyers do have a little bit of the characteristic portrayed in those jokes. For example, have you ever seen a transcript from an actual court record and wondered, “how could the attorney say something like that?!” In my experience (J), what happened is the attorney was simply thinking faster than his/her mouth could speak. Let’s be honest with one another – we have all done that! I, for one, am scared to death to use the word “success” in the courtroom. I just know I will get talking fast and will start telling the court about someone’s “sex life” instead of their “success in life.” Now THAT would be one for the joke books!
Here’s a funny one:
The fence broke down between Heaven and Hell.
When Saint Peter saw it, he called out to the Devil. “Hey Satan, it’s your turn to fix it this time.”
“Sorry, no can do,” the Devil replied. “My minions are too busy to take time out to fix a mere fence.”
Exasperated, Saint Peter scowled. “Well, all right. I’ll just have to sue you for breaking our agreement.”
“Oh really? Satan laughed. “And were are you going to get a lawyer?”