Friday, October 28, 2011

Setting Husbands Up For Supervised Visitation

There are a lot of angry dads in America who have lost temporary or permanent custody of their kids, and claim it was a setup. That the chips were stacked against them. Their voices are sometimes so loud, it sounds like "What, me paranoid? Is that what everyone's saying about me?"

But a recent scam in California was revealed in the LA Times, and then in the ABA Journal, that shows some of the dads may be right. At least, in Modesto, California.

Several bottom-feeder divorce lawyers, who represented divorcing wives, apparently hired a very shady private detective to set up their clients' husbands to make it harder for the husbands to win custody. The shady detective hired sexy, Vegas-y type women to date the husbands (the husband in the photo I saw was a plumpy dumpy guy), go out for drinks, and - bam!- the husbands would get arrested for drunk driving immediately after leaving the bar or restaurant, courtesy of the detective's contacts with the local police.

In the Plumpy Dumpy case, Mrs. Plumpy Dumpy was able to use the drunk driving incident to get an order restricting her husband to supervised visitation.

Now, it's not clear to me whether Mr. Plumpy Dumpy actually was driving drunk. He was certainly thinking with the wrong body part when he pursued the gorgeous blonde, whom he mistook for having a genuine interest in him. He actually believed her when "she told him he had large, strong hands" and "described his kisses as 'yummy.'" Sorry, but that sounds like hooker-speak to me.

It's also not clear if the divorce lawyers, or just their over-eager paralegal staff, made these dastardly (what a great adjective) arrangements. And I don't know if they will be hauled in front of their local grievance committee.

But that begs the question: did Mr. Plumpy-Dumpy deserve to lose unsupervised access to his kids for this? It was a set-up, for crying out loud. Depressed, lonely middle-aged plumy-dumpy goes for young brassy blonde with hot turn-on words. Duh. Plumpy-Dumpy was an easy mark.

Maybe we should flip the question around: Did the kids deserve to lose access to one of their parents because their parent was lured to a bar by a woman who had been paid by their mom's lawyers (via the detective's bank), and picked up by cops who had been tipped off by their mom's lawyers?

Mrs. Plumpy Dumpy claims she didn't want her husband to get arrested. Her lawyers profess ignorance about the entire matter.

So now, I wonder, who showed the worst judgment of all in this whole sordid mess?,0,7922829.story?page=1

Scams like this are yet another arrow in the quiver of lawyer haters.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Voice of Sweet Reason

Many clients don't want to hear it. They want to be completely unreasonable, and they want their lawyers to agree with their unreasonable demands and expectations.

Recently, I had a consult who insisted that because her spouse had fooled around, and hadn't earned as much money as she had (maybe 25% less), he should forego his entire interest in the marital home, her much larger pension, and their joint bank accounts, leaving him with about 15% of the marital estate. She wanted me to agree that she could settle her case under these (ridiculous) terms. In fact, she insisted that I agree her proposal was appropriate. And when I didn't agree, she grew extremely angry with me.

Opposing counsel with uncontrollable clients making similar, or even more lopsided demands, are even worse. Because they can't be knocked out of your life with a simple, "Sorry, I'm sure you can find another lawyer who has another opinion, best of luck." No, the unreasonable PIA opposing lawyer and his/her unreasonable PIA client, with punishment as their primary goal, is going to engage in a war of attrition for months, maybe even years. And they don't care that they're wasting gargantuan amounts of money, energy, time, and public resources, even when they know -- at least an experienced (albeit sometimes utterly inept) adversary knows -- damn well what the bottom-line settlement or litigated result will look like.

That's why there's nothing more wonderful than a reasonable person on the other side, who can control the unreasonable demands of his/her client and cut to the chase.

Right now Republican politics is just like the unreasonable client who craves a lunatic lawyer who will accede to his/her preposterous positions and not yield to anything or anyone resembling sanity. A smart, highly articulate, credentialed and reasonable candidate doesn't stand a hope in hell of impressing the foam-at-the-mouth extremists who seem to be running that party from the outer banks of fringe conservatism. Hence Jon Huntsman's low low low poll numbers.

Told ya I was a political junkie.

But this just goes to prove my point that politics is, indeed, a macro picture of interpersonal relationships, and that divorce lawyers and politicians have a LOT in common....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Divorce Lawyers Are As Bad As Obama

A political junkie like me laughs when a presidential candidates' debate is scheduled to air on an obscure, upper-register cable channel, like say, oh, the Bloomberg Channel (#105 over here in NY). I'm not that easily dissuaded - I WILL watch it, even if I have to stream it.

Not going to be watching it in silence, though. I mean, how can you sit still when an intellectual heavyweight like Michelle Bachmann blames the country's decade-long economic woes solely on President Obama (okay okay, he's a Democrat so it MUST be all his fault); when the effervescent, blunt Ron Paul gets interrupted when he starts scolding Republicans as well as Democrats for poor legislation; and when model family man Newt Gingrich overlooks Reagan/Bush de-regulation and overspending, and stiflingly high Reagan/Bush tax and deficit increases-- NO! it's Obama's fault!

Thank God for Republican Party unity. Thank God for political ambition.

Anything to derail Obama's reelection chances is clearly fair game, even if it means re-writing history or ignoring what's best for the country now. And I thought the vitriol was high during the Clinton years. But I digress...

My favorite comment - seriously - of the evening came from Rick Santorum, who cited "the breakdown of the American family" as a primary cause of economy disparities in the US. I heard heckling in the background when he said that (the noise distracted many of the candidates, including my favorite - Michelle, of course). Maybe the heckler was a married guy. Or a single mom who's doing just fine, thank you.

But Rick Santorum is absolutely right, as study after study and just plain common sense has shown. Single-parent households struggle far more than intact families. Santorum unfortunately missed the opportunity to lambaste the group that everyone, on all sides of the political spectrum, loves to hate. Had he done so, maybe he would have propelled his poll numbers out of the single digits.

I'm talking about divorce lawyers. Naturally. We're the ones who enable a person to dump his/her spouse out on the street. We bicker over the amount of spousal and child support. We defend the deadbeats who fail to meet their financial obligations to their ex's. We file actions to decrease monthly payments because our clients can't -or won't - afford them. Best of all, we rape family assets for legal and expert fees. We're bad bad bad bad people. (The clients share no complicity in any of this, of course....Here is where I have to give a nod to Herman Cain's call for personal responsibility.)

So you see, the widening gap between rich and poor is really our fault. We're as bad as Obama. Worse.

Rick, you blew it, buddy. At least you were on the right track.