16 Things I’ve Learned in 16 Years of Practice

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Anniversaries take on new meanings when you are a divorce lawyer. To me, one of the proudest accomplishments in my career was going back to school to obtain my bachelors degree and then my law degree while raising my daughter as a sole custodial parent and earning a living all at the same time. I became a licensed attorney on January 27, 1999. 

Since then, and before on my radio show, I have counseled thousands of people through some of the most perilous and emotionally trying times of their lives, helping them to move forward toward freedom from unsatisfying marital binds, and at times how to turn things around and make it work without divorce.

Along the way, I’ve picked up a few nuggets of wisdom. On this, the 16th anniversary of my becoming an attorney, I offer up some of them to you.

  • Most Fathers are excellent parents.
  • Not all Mothers are good parents.
  • Gender bias against men remains an issue in the courts when it comes to custody and orders of protection.
  • Men are also victims of domestic abuse.
  • Women abuse children as much or more than men.
  • If the right thing always happened, there would be no need for lawyers and there would not be appellate courts.  However, even with lawyers and appellate courts, the right things do not always happen.
  • Without the right appearance and presentation, your facts will never be heard or considered.  So stop venting emotional stories and just get to the facts considered by the law in a precise and concise manner. No one understands the fact that if they were in your shoes, they would babble too. But eventually your own mother won’t want to hear it anymore.
  • Going through a divorce can be an emotionally brutal experience. A good support system is essential, including seeing a therapist.  Litigating bitter emotions only makes it take longer and cost more.
  • Taking care of yourself truly helps you to survive better physically, mentally and emotionally while going through a divorce: consistent sleep, regular exercise, and good nutrition are key.
  • Too many lawyers love to litigate bitter emotions just to be able to bill more without caring how it affects the clients or their children and could not care less whether or not their client is lying.  Do not litigate bitter emotions and always tell the truth.
  • Despite what many women’s groups say, joint legal custody works best for ex-spouses and their children.  They only point to the examples for whom it did not work, not the majority who made it work.
  • Lying is too common and the courts do not punish it – but they should.
  • Grandparents have legal visitation rights in New York State when they did have a prior relationship with the grandchildren, and it is best for the children to have extended family in their lives.
  • In those situations where the noncustodial parent enjoys a good unfettered relationship with their children and is never bad mouthed by the custodial parent, child support is most likely to be kept current and paid timely.
  • When dividing assets in New York State, “equitable” distribution doesn’t necessarily mean “equal” distribution.
  • Settlements between the parties are always best and are most often complied with.

If you are considering separation or divorce and you want blunt and honest answers, I can help you.