DK Simoneau is famous for this quote, and her book, “We’re Having a Tuesday”, published in 2006. If I could make every parent going through a divorce sit down and read this book together, I would. The book is written from a child’s perspective of going back and forth between two homes, missing her Dad when she is with Mom, and Mom when she is with Dad. She has a little brother, and his crazy, lovable behavior to deal with. She is missing her little things left at Dad’s house, and she is missing little things left at Mom’s house. I rarely see both parents understand the importance of little things to their child. It really matters if they have their favorite teddy bear, backpack and sweatshirt. It really matters that they miss small things that Dad does (reads their favorite book), and they miss the small things that Mom does (maybe she cooks the best waffles). This means I rarely see both parents even think much about their children during a divorce. The worst is knowing that I’m “preaching to the choir” putting this out there. But, on the off-chance that I catch someone’s eye and make them stop and think, I’ll put this out there anyway.
Parents, (absent obvious circumstances) you should always keep a family unit in place after a divorce, and even if you are remarried. It’s cruel what I see children go through and the legal system is not built to handle it. The legal system certainly cannot undo the harm you do when you speak ill of your ex, or battle one another in court, just because you can, or you need to be “right”. Judges and lawyers can’t fix the broken hearts of children caught in the middle of a horrible divorce.
Thomas Edison is famous for saying a lot of things, but my personal favorite is this:
“I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”
There are a lot of reasons this can make sense to a lawyer, and their client. The more years I practice as a lawyer, the more I learn what works, and sometimes more importantly, what does not work. Particularly with certain Judges, on certain issues, in certain areas of Utah. The number of variable are endless. So, if we have an objective, we have to never, ever, give up. As long as it makes sense to continue trying, we must try. Remembering this quote helps. Sometimes, it takes the feeling of “losing” and turns into, “let’s try a different way”.
Remembering this quote helps. Sometimes, it takes the feeling of “losing” and turns into, “let’s try a different way”. You aren’t always wrong because you don’t get what you want in a certain way. Maybe you need to ask in a different manner. Maybe try a different angle or direction. This is hard, as the lawyer, when we are dealing with people’s children, their day-to-day lives, their money, their companies or business interests; their most important issues, but it makes the quote even more helpful. Even if I feel like Rocky in the last few rounds of a fight, maybe it seems I’m down, I’m going to keep getting up and I’m never going to give up. I’m never going to stop looking for a different angle if I found a way that didn’t work. Maybe the lesson will help me succeed later in the same case, or maybe in a different context.
Just don’t give up if it matters.
Anger. We all feel it. After all, we are only human. But, there is no place for it in the legal system so far as I can tell. It seems best to write your angry email, wait 24-48 hours, and hit delete. Or wait and send a note that is to the point and polite. Of course, it’s easier said than done. Lawyers can spend a lot of their retainer money writing angry letters back and forth. At the end of the day, most Judges can’t figure out who is “right” or “wrong”, its usually not relevant, nor do they have time. Judges seem to see a lot of unproductive chatter.
“A quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough”
Taking any legal path is challenging, for you and your lawyer. This is especially true when you face a turn not anticipated. There are few straight forward answer. Your case(s), be it divorce, a civil or criminal matter (or all three at the same time), is ever changing. How do you handle this? Sometimes it feels like the liars and cheats of the world “win”. For the most part, they don’t. But, the challenge can be relentless at times, over years. You need to rely on your life experience, honesty, and dignity. This even in the face of others who are not conducting themselves accordingly. This is famous quote, but I think of it all the time.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The more years I practice, the more I see. Oftentimes, I think I know every angle. Then a colleague, client or Judge points something out and the entire perspective changes. Good, bad, or indifferent, I try to learn from it.
So, today some food for thought~
“Sometimes what looks like falling apart is actually everything falling into place”
Happy Father’s Day.
Dads, in Utah, a 50/50 custody arrangement is recognized by law as best for children if possible. Don’t be fooled by lawyers claiming to uphold “father’s rights” as if you need that. You don’t. You just need a good lawyer.
“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.”
“Instead of getting married again, I’m going to find a woman I don’t like and just give her a house”
– Lewis Grizzard
“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one”
The legal system is a different world. Coping skills you may have developed in life may not serve you well. This is especially true in a divorce, or in any case involving children. Focus on being a good person and a good parent. Keep your behavior and temper in line with that goal. Even in the most contentious of cases, there is no other way to succeed.
“Divorce is a time of change. It really rocks the foundation of most people’s lives. When we have our hearts broken or our dreams taken away from us, it is a time of growth and change.”
I meet people at some of the worst times in their life. I have found that a few simple words can help someone through their next hour, day, week or more. The words can be wise or funny, thoughtful or interesting. So, entering into my 25th year of practicing law, I will start to put the quotes I find helpful onto my website. I hope they will help someone.
“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” Eleanor Roosevelt