Skip to content
  • Maryland
  • Virginia
  • Washington, D.C.

Divorce Lawyers

Thyden Gross and Callahan LLPCounselors and Attorneys at Law

301-907-4580

 

FATHERS’ RIGHTS
NOT JUST EVERY OTHER WEEKEND

This is about fathers' rights law, and protecting the best interests of your children. It provides information, news and comments on laws, cases and strategies for life as a single father and winning your custody, access or child support case.

Archive for the ‘Lawyers’ Category

How to Lose Your Child Custody Battle

Friday, September 25th, 2015

Anthony Zappin, a 30 year old patent lawyer, who graduated from law school in 2010, married Claire Comfort, who is also a patent lawyer. They had one child together. They filed for divorce in New York in 2013. The custody trial is scheduled for November. Zappin, representing himself, is showing us things NOT to do in a child custody battle:

  • Insult the judges. Zappin told one judge that she was lying. He wrote a note to another that said “You’re pathetic!”
  • Alienate the child’s attorney. Refuse to pay half her fees as ordered. Create a web site in her name. Call her “a very sick and greedy woman.”
  • Alienate the child evaluation expert. Zappin filed a complaint with the state against the psychiatrist the child’s attorney hired to evaluate the child.
  • Sue in other courts during the divorce. Zappin sued his wife in New York County Family Court; sued his wife, her family and her lawyers in federal district courts in the Southern District of New York and the District of Columbia; and brought proceedings against judges in his case.

Justice Cooper has ordered Zappin to pay $10,000 for his actions in the case. Zappin said he intends to appeal.

A Lesson from The Walking Dead

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

My son and I watched The Walking Dead together last weekend.  We both looked at each other after it was over because we were still trying to figure out the ending.  We rewound and rewatched it several times.  Then we discussed it and  put the clues together.  Aha!  So that’s what it meant.

I told my son I liked stories like that.  The author doesn’t tell you what happens but leaves enough clues for you to figure it out yourself after you close the book and think about if for a while.   John le  Carre writes his spy novels that way.

I like to use this in my law practice.  I find it much more persuasive when I write a letter to opposing counsel where he comes to the right conclusion himself rather than me telling him.  The same goes for argument to the judge or jury and briefs to the appeals court.  Don’t hit them over the head with the answer.  Leave enough clues for the reader to figure it out on their own.

New Divorce Documentary

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

A documentary, “Divorce Corp.”, narrated by Dr. Drew Pinksky, opens in 16 cities this month.

The movie exposes some unethical and corrupt practices in the $50 billion divorce industry.

Some women’s rights organizations have called for a boycott of the film because they say it dwells too heavily on father’s rights.

Watch the trailers.

Ready, Fire, Aim

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

“My client was shocked to learn that your client has enrolled their 5 year old son in the swim team at the community pool,” the letter from the mother’s divorce lawyer started.

The father’s lawyer scanned it to the father by email.  By the next day he had received three drafts of a four page letter from the father explaining all the benefits of swim team.  The father wanted the lawyer to send the letter to the mother’s attorney.

“Wait until I speak with her,” the lawyer told the father.

“Why?” asked the father.  “I want her to know, for the record, that I’m not the bad guy here.   And I didn’t do it just because my new girlfriend is the coach of the swim team.”

“First of all,” replied the father’s lawyer, “she won’t believe you.  Second, there is no record.  Third, I don’t try my case in letters.  And finally, I don’t know why, but my intuition and experience tell me to wait until I speak with opposing counsel.”

Five days later, the mother’s attorney called.  The mother was concerned that she had been left out of the decision making process.  She wanted to know how many lifeguards were on duty, their ages, and what training they had.  These were easy to provide and the problem was solved. The father’s letter was put in the file and never sent.

The Prospective Client

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Danny Carr, Counselor and Attorney at Law, punched the button on his phone this morning to listen to messages left last night on his voice-mail.

“I need to hire you for a custody case.  This is Ken Woodard. Call me at 301-555-5555.”

Carr hit redial, and when someone answered, he said,  “Mr. Woodard, this is Danny Carr, returning your call.”

“I was forced to give up custody and visitation by my wife’s attorney by duress,” said Woodard.

“Did he hold a gun to your head? “

“No, but he told me I would lose if I didn’t agree.”

“That’s not duress.”

“OK, well then I found out I still have to pay child support.”

“Right.  Parents are obligated to support their children.”

“But if I don’t have custody or visitation, haven’t my parental rights been terminated?”

“No.  You are still the children’s father.”

“My wife accused me of neglecting and abusing the kids.  Can I file a petition to terminate my parental rights on the basis of her saying I’m an unfit parent?”

“No.  You can’t file a complaint against yourself to terminate your own parental rights.”

“That doesn’t sound right.”

“I have to go now, Mr. Woodard.  Good luck with your case.”

Is DC Lawyer LeBron James’s Father?

Friday, July 9th, 2010

LeBron James said last night that he asked his mother, Gloria James, for advice while he was making up his mind to play basketball for the Miami Heat.

In the meantime, Leicester Bryce Stovell, 55, was filing suit in the U.S. District Court in D.C., claiming that he is LeBron’s father.  Stovell is a lawyer in private practice, formerly with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The 22 page, 95 paragraph complaint alleges Stovell met Gloria in a Washington bar in 1984 and goes through the history of their relationship.  Stovel is suing both LeBron and Gloria for $4 million for fraud, defamation, misrepresentation, breach of oral contract and tortious interference with contract.

My Best Deposition Tip

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

A deposition is part of the discovery process in a custody trial.  Your spouse’s lawyer gets to ask you a lot of questions, some rude or embarrassing, at his or her office, in front of a stenographer who is taking everything down to be used against you at trial.  You are in the hot seat and it may take all day.

The lawyer has usually done this hundreds of times and knows a lot of tricks, trips and traps.  And the lawyer gets to ask the questions.  You have to answer them.

Here is the number one thing I tell my clients before their deposition.  Repeat the question in the form of a declaration, pause, and finish the sentence.  Put a period at the end of it and then stop talking.  Wait for the next question.

So the lawyer asks, “Where were you on the night of August the 7th of this year?”

You say, “On August the 7th of this year…I was at work.”

This approach has several benefits.  It gives you time to think.  It keeps you focused on the question asked.  It keeps you from talking too much.  It keeps you from guessing.  It keeps you calm.  And it might keep you from saying something that can be used against you at trial.

Coffee Shop Advice

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Joan and Jack, two venerable divorce lawyers, bumped into each other while having coffee in the café close to the courthouse.  They greeted each other effusively and sat down at a table together putting their legal files on empty chairs.

“I’ve got this tough case,” said Jack.  “My client is the mother and she wants the father to have no visitation at all.  The father will settle for nothing other than 50 percent of the time with the children.”

“So what are you going to do?” asked Joan.

“I’m going to tell the father that he has a career to worry about.  And he is going to want to have a social life.  There is no better baby sitter than the mother.  I’m going to try to talk him into less than 50 percent.”

“I’ve got another idea,” said Joan.

“What is it?”

“Tell the mother to let him have the children 50 percent of the time.  Lot’s of fathers idealize about custody of the children.  But once they try to juggle a career with the demands of little children, they find it is no easy task.  After a couple of weeks, he will be asking the mother to spend more time with the children.”

“Not bad,” said Jack, “For that salutary advice, I’ll buy you a doughnut.”

Argumentum Ad Hominem

Friday, December 12th, 2008

An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: “argument to the man”, “argument against the man”) consists of replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to a characteristic or belief of the person making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim. The process of proving or disproving the claim is thereby subverted, and the argumentum ad hominem works to change the subject. – Wickipedia.com

Maybe it is the stress of the holidays, but I’ve received two ad hominems this week, one against me and one against a client of mine, from opposing counsel who ought to know better.

The first accuses me of asserting a right without any legal basis and the writer says “as I have come to see your conduct, it does not surprise me.”

The second says “Frankly, it is puzzling that [your client] would fight for custody in light of his apparent disinterest in taking parental responsibility.”

Now you have to be fairly thick-skinned to be a divorce lawyer, and litigation is pretty rough and tumble in the heat of battle, so I don’t lose a lot of sleep over things like this.  But there is a Code of Civility in both jurisdictions where I practice, that says lawyers should treat opposing counsel and opposing parties with respect and courtesy.

Both of these ad hominems are unnecessary attempts to say “Shame on you.”  If anything they are counterproductive because they only cause the recipient to dig in their heels and redouble their efforts to prove them wrong.  So think twice before you hit the send button, reread your letter, and make sure it contains only those matters which move the case forward.

And for those who celebrate Christmas, remember that Santa is watching.

Child Custody Battles — Save Money by Being Smart

Friday, November 7th, 2008

This post was contributed by Kelly Kilpatrick, who writes on the subject of a police detective. She invites your feedback at kellykilpatrick24 at gmail dot com.

If you’ve seen someone go through a bitter divorce and the even uglier child custody battle, you’ll know that the courts are not generally favorable towards the father, especially when it comes to securing custody of the child. Some fathers are happy to wash their hands of the responsibility of child rearing, but others are left devastated when their spouse gets sole custody and they’re asked to pay child support and alimony too in some cases.

Most judges are predisposed to awarding custody to the mother, simply because she is the one who’s had more time with the child, especially if he or she is pretty young. When you’re on the verge of a divorce, it’s hard to be rational and think before you act. But when it comes to your children and the fact that a court is going to tell you how you’re going to be allowed to relate to them for the rest of your life, you must put your emotions aside and use your head alone to save yourself a whole lot of trouble.

The first thing to do is to make your divorce amicable; I know it’s the hardest thing to do, part on good terms with someone you don’t want to live the rest of your life with. But if you share children, it’s the mature thing to do. This has a host of advantages, especially to you as the father. You don’t say things you may regret later, things that if overheard by your youngster, could end up harming your reputation in his or her eyes. Remember, your child is likely to be influenced by your spouse, so it’s best to remain on cordial terms with her.

A friendly divorce also allows you both to save a ton of money – you can bypass the lawyers altogether, seek joint custody of your children and reach a mutually satisfactory amount for child support and alimony. Better still, you remain on good terms so that your children feel secure even though you’re divorced.

I know I’m painting a pretty rosy picture where your spouse agrees to an amicable divorce and joint custody, but it’s worth a try, for yourself and your children. Rather than assume that your spouse would never go along with your suggestions, and that she is out to hurt you, be gracious enough to give in once in a while. After all, you were in love with the woman once, and by being the bigger person, you save yourself an acrimonious divorce proceeding and a lot of money in the process. Your spouse may also feel the need to relent once she sees how reasonable you’re being, so go ahead, give it a try. You’ve nothing to lose (other than what you will even if you don’t try) if it doesn’t work out, and everything to gain if it does.

 
© 2018 Thyden Gross and Callahan LLP. All rights reserved.