Monday, November 23, 2009

Insight into lawyering - family law division

Marilyn Stowe takes an issue that I find devilishly hard to write about and brings the point home with great clarity in her Fleetwood Mac and a divorce lawyer’s Rumours.

Many clients begin their meetings with me, assuming that what I am about to hear is new. It isn’t. I’ve already heard the account of the breakdown of their marriage or relationship, over and over again. Different faces, different people – but fundamentally the same story. What is interesting is that when a relationship does break down, the parties don’t always have the same tale to tell. One will blame the other. One may blame a third party. The other may say it wasn’t the third party. Perhaps he or she will insist that the relationship has simply run its course.
For me, as a lawyer who listens to both sides of such stories daily, these songs remain as relevant today as they were thirty years ago. They remind all of us that we are human and fallible.

Here are two different beliefs, genuinely held, as to what has gone wrong. Probably there is a whole lot more that could be said, about why this relationship ended as it did.

I would add only two thoughts.

My job as a lawyer is to evaluate the client's story and, as pointed out above, there are a limited number of stories.  The story needs evaluation against the law.  Then the issue becomes how best to advocate that story.

I would also point out - as I seem to be doing quite often to clients nowadays - that this also applies to judges.  I hear a lot of stories and so do judges.  I had a support hearing this month where father was telling a quite outrageous story.  My client boiled with worry at what she was hearing.  I think she - like many others - do not understand the judge's job is to judge - take both stories and weigh them.  In this case, the judge ordered father to do what he was supposed to do by January 15 or go to jail.  The clients worries were for nothing.  (Tip: listen to watch a witness says but watch the judge closely).

1 comment:

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