The Law (and the World) According to Me

Win Win

A former client, who is also a practicing attorney by the way, once observed that it is unusual, if not unfair, that Family Law attorneys will routinely represent either side of a case. Unusual, I suppose. Unfair, I don’t think so.
Usually, a plaintiff’s lawyer stays on that side of the fight. Defense attorneys customarily defend, and do not instigate suit. It is common for a former prosecutor to enter private practice, and begin earning a living defending the very people he or she once tried to bring down. But for an attorney to regularly jump from one side to the other, as a case might dictate, is different.
I may go in on one matter arguing for the support payor, non-custodial parent or dependent spouse at 10 a.m., then represent a payee, custodial parent or paying spouse in a separate case at 1. I see this as a distinct advantage I can offer a client, since I know (or should know) the other person’s argument. The same can be said for opposing counsel.
Which leads me to this common situation: custodial parent (let’s call her Wilma) wants to restrict the noncustodial parent’s time with the kids. Noncustodial parent (Fred?) wants more time, perhaps a shared physical custody arrangement.
The lawyer’s dilemma: fight for your client’s desire, or for what is best for the child (Pebbles, of course). Sometime the mission is the same. The attorney is convinced his client’s goals are worthy. Sometimes…not.
Here’s my test: if I represent Wilma, I ask her if she’d be amenable to slowly expanding Fred’s time, so that he must, over a reasonable period of time, allay her fears of Fred as a parent on equal footing. If Wilma likes the idea, I tend to believe her aims are true. If she does not, she likely has a separate agenda.
Because what does she have to lose? Fred might screw up the additional time—by failing to do school assignments with Pebbles, or improperly caring for Pebbles. Then Wilma was right, and the issue should be shelved. Or, Fred might do just fine—then what basis, other than selfishness, does Wilma have to argue against equal custody?
When I represent Fred, I suggest the same thing. Will you accept a gradual expansion of time? If he’s agreeable, I know his goals are sincere. If not, what’s his agenda?
This is rare—a Win Win solution. It doesn’t necessarily apply in support or property scenarios, but it can on occasion.


Comments on: "Win Win" (1)

  1. Allison said:

    I noticed a quote from an Elvis Costello song in your discourse. Did you know that Bob Dylan has been quoted in judical decisions more than any other artist?

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