Today reaffirmed to me that the most important thing in a custody dispute is to have a competent attorney not afraid to challenge a judge.
I want to repeat the above statement over and over and over.
I did not wake up one morning and decide that I was going to become an expert in family law. I know what I know because my attorney years ago entered me into an agreement without my consent. I recall throwing a fit in the hallway not realizing the judge was standing 5 feet from me.
I spent four years, about $100,000 and a United States Supreme Court writ to resolve the issue created by a careless agreement made without my permission.
Over and over and over again, Ladads gets involved with cases and over and over and over again we discern that the attorney made a decision without the consent of the client and that the attorney refused to file proper paperwork out of fear of “pissing off” the judge. The excuse is always, “oh judge, I will get my client to agree, I will get him to understand”. Judges are not gods; it is only the trial attorneys, through their inaction, that make judges believe that they are gods. Hell, we “pray” to the court for relief…no wonder judges think they are gods.
I can say this without hesitation….never, never, never agree to be absent during any pre-trial conference. Always, always, always ensure that any conference with the judge is memorialized in some form or fashion. Never, never, never let your attorney make a decision without your approval. I can’t stand attorneys who take the whole “trust me, I am in charge” attitude. Keep your client in the loop!!!! Having said that however…..I didn’t say that you have to be in the middle of the verbal debate. Be present…shut up……and let your attorney argue for you….but never be absent, always be aware of what is going on, and MAKE SURE your attorney explains to you what is going on.
Attorneys often make their living in front of the same judge. If your attorney expresses fear about sticking up for you, strongly consider getting a new attorney. A judge should respect an attorney who is willing to go to war for their client. At the end of the day, the attorney should understand that representing their client is more important than the fall-out from pissing off their god.
To answer the question the title of this post presents, be prepared to throw yourself at the mercy of the court in hopes of undoing what your authorized representative got you into.