If you’re a family law lawyer or you’ve spent a little time around one, then you’ve probably had a day or two where you commented to yourself “oh, opposing counsel probably should’ve thought that through.” There’s a reason that family court shows are shown on television – they can be endlessly entertaining! (If you’re on the winning side or watching as a third party.) In this article, I’m going to highlight 15 dumb things people do or have done to ruin their family matter.
Disrespect the judge.
A court is a place of dignity, reverence, and respect. There are proper ways to address each party including the judge. A quick Google search will give you hints but it’s never good to view the judge as a “nobody” that you just met on the street. No judge wants to be addressed as “Bro”, “Homie”, “Mister”, or “Miss”. When in doubt, “Your Honor” is always a safe default.
Make it about you instead of the kids.
It’s never a great idea to talk about how you don’t take Timmy to Swimming Lessons on your visit because it’s your visit and you don’t want to be “wasting” your time doing stuff like driving your kid all over town. It never ceases to amaze me how many people will stand in front of a judge and complain about how “parenting” cuts into their routines and lifestyle.
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Make it the kid’s fault.
This seems like a “no brainer” but there are plenty of brain-deficient people that will complain to the judge or mediator that they fell short on an obligation because their kid didn’t tell them, or didn’t do something that was required, etc. Your teacher didn’t want to hear that the dog ate your homework and the judge doesn’t want to hear that your kid made you miss your support payment because of “insert dumb response here”. You are the parent. It’s your responsibility, not your kid’s.
Bring the kids into the fight!
This one is a sure-fire backfire every time, but it happens all the time! Do not use your kid as the sole witness in your family matter against their other parent. Do not put stress and pressure on your kid to decide which parent loves them more or which parent has a better argument. Never involve the kids. It’s bad for them, bad for you, and it’s horrible for your case. Just don’t do it!
Punish the child for the other parent’s actions.
It happens. A lot. Stop it. It’s not your kid’s fault that they got dropped off late or that your ex didn’t want to talk to you at the drop-off. Your kid is there to spend time with you. If that time is shortened or the transaction didn’t go as planned, suck it up, regroup and make the best out of whatever time you have.
Discourage communications between your kid and the other parent.
Now, if your kid legitimately doesn’t want to talk to the other parent (sometimes it really does happen) then I’m not telling you to force them into an uncomfortable situation. But if you’re defaming the other parent to your kid – that’s not okay. If your child refuses to speak to the other parent, explore counselling options, supervised visits, etc.
Ignore your obligations.
It’s funny because people are assigned responsibilities and they naturally have responsibilities that they are “obliged” to honor and follow through with. But then they decide that they can ignore those “obligations” and they’re shocked when the repercussions come. Child Support is not a friendly suggestion! It’s a bill. Pay it. “But I don’t want to give it to my ex!” – Too Bad! Pay your bill! It’s not optional.
Tell the judge that you want to know how your money is spent each month.
Hahaha. No really, this happens. There is a difference between asking for a legitimate accounting of “extra” monies requested and the basic Child Support payment you are obligated to pay. Your money goes into your exes money and then it’s at your exes discretion how that best works into the overall picture of your child’s lifestyle, accommodation, entertainment, food supply, etc. Once again, it’s a bill. Pay it.
Lie about what you own, earn and provide.
This one makes me giggle sometimes. Granted not everyone hires a PI to verify this information, and granted hiring a PI doesn’t guarantee that every penny will be found. (There are lots of variables at play including which PI you hire) But lying to the judge is way too common and if you’re caught, a lot of bad things can happen to you, but the worst thing is that the judge will see you as a liar from that point forward.
Ignore court orders or breach them altogether.
For some reason, people think that the judge is making suggestions or general remarks in court. That’s not usually the case. When the judge says you have to do something within a period of time, that should be your primary focus to complete. If you don’t, you’re not just ignoring (disrespecting) the judge and their court but you are also breaking the law!
Avoid accepting Process Service.
You can’t fix stupid. That’s because it tends to watch a lot of television. Despite what you might think, you cannot ignore the law. You can make it difficult and expensive but you can’t totally ignore it.
Seriously. You don’t know the law. You don’t know what you’re doing. This is highly unlikely to end well. This is not the time to save a buck or fake it. Do your homework. Choose wisely.
Withhold facts, Disclosure, etc.
By law, all parties are allowed to know almost everything about you. Many people will put in the extra effort to verify the accuracy of what you report or fail to report. Be honest. Be transparent. Don’t lie.
Never miss a chance to take a cheap shot!
Nothing impresses a judge more than when one or both of the parties takes cheap shot after cheap shot at the other party. Don’t forget to reference their poor choice in partner(s)! or their inability to hold a job! or that they’re terrible in the sack! No. Wait. That’s what the judge doesn’t want to hear from you. Keep it to the facts. Your comments do not add value.
Ignore the court altogether.
Yup. Some people evade service, get served, know their obligation to appear… Then slap the court in the head with a big “I don’t feel like showing up today”. This is super dumb. Even if you don’t show up to court, the wheels of justice keep moving. You can still have orders brought against you, fines levied, the financial obligations imposed, and have penalties applied. Not showing up is you forfeiting your right to defend your position, not the end of the family matter.
There are even more ways to ruin your family law matter but if you want to succeed in your matter, take the above information under advisement, choose a good lawyer from a reputable firm and engage a qualified PI where needed. Thank you for reading. Please share.