“He is a well-known athlete. He came to every meeting with a complete entourage of bodyguards, accountants, and managers. I advised him that he would need to leave said entourage at home for the child support hearing in front of the judge. The day of the hearing, he arrived with his entourage and finally agreed to leave them in the hallway – out of the courtroom. I then eyed the diamond encrusted watch on his thick wrist. I told him he would need to take off the $75,000 watch if I was going to proceed with advocating for a lowered amount of child support.
Suddenly he was in my face. We stood nose to nose. I fought with my 6 foot some and 200+ pound frame to avoid noticeable quivering. ‘This ain’t no $75,000 watch!’ he barked. ‘This watch is worth $300,000.’ I sighed and told him it needed to come off.”
I laughed along with the rest of the audience. I was in a room full of divorce attorneys from around the country. I was hearing tales of the rich and famous – but with a twist. These were tales of custody battles and child support of the rich and famous.
Another attorney rose to tell about the worries of another Hollywood divorcing couple. He spoke about his client’s fears about parenting time and how to minimize the impact on his children.
Over the course of a week in Hawaii at the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers midyear conference, I got to “talk shop” with lawyers ranging from New York to Texas to California. We attended several hours of continuing legal education seminars to obtain practice tips and specialized knowledge about how best to practice.
Out of all the legal education hours, the best learning I left with was how universal the challenges, worries, and fears of divorcing parents are. Regardless of race, geography, gender, income, age of minor children – the parental heartstrings are the same.
While laws for divorce, custody, and child support vary from state to state, the experience of having a law decide outcomes, restrictions, or parameters for how to parent is a jarring experience. With the dividing of time and directions for how to spend money with and for the children, this interference is a universal struggle for parents raising their children in separate households.
Most of the conversations I had with the lawyers were focused on how to make this better for parents and subsequently, the children. If you are a parent raising children in separate households and reading this blog, you are likely looking to make your experience better too. You are not alone.
If we continue to acknowledge the experience, tell the truth about our part in it, we can strive to move forward to make more universal good out of our situations. (However, it may still require that we not wear diamond watches to court.)