Attorney, Counselor… Handler

In this day and age, representing men and father’s facing divorce requires more than the legal knowledge and experience in domestic relations. It requires an attorney to think outside of the box.  It requires an attorney, more than not, to act as or obtain the services of a “handler.” By this, I mean, someone who can take you, the client, and prepare or mold you in advance of any event, hearing or counseling/therapy session as may be ordered by the court.   Often times an attorney will simply allow the “non-legal” process to take place without intervention or “handling”. The results of which can be disastrous.

Let’s look at a hypothetical example of this. Client X has a history of psychological obstacles/impairments which 5 years ago lead the court to order supervised custody only with the children. Today, Client X, after individual counseling for the past several years, believes he is now prepared to seek a modification and obtain unsupervised custody. However, he has had no contact with the children over the past several years. In addition, the custodial parent continues to alienate the children from dad.  At first glance, the instant response of many attorneys would be to simply obtain a new psychological evaluation of Client X and upon a positive psychological evaluation, present this to Court to obtain a plan to re-establish contact with the children through the use of a counselor. Thus, as expected, Client X obtains a favorable psychological report, finding there is no reason for Client X not to have unsupervised contact with the children after a period of slow re-establishment of contact. However, with no additional “handling” by the attorney, our client begins attending court ordered counseling to re-establish contact and begins odd and insubordinate (but not harmful) behavior towards the counselor. Client also, has a repeated inability to follow pre-established boundaries and or rules during counseling sessions, such as appearing at sessions unannounced and without appointment, or discussing “off-limit” topics.   The result of a lack of “handling” prior to the counseling results in a recommendation by the counselor to discontinue all contact with the children with no further plan for re-establishment; a catastrophic result.

The example above clearly demonstrates the need for the attorney to be involved in ALL aspects of the litigation even when relying on experts. The result may have been avoided here had the attorney either 1) “handled” the client in advance by instructing the client what he could or should not do during any sessions; or 2) had client been “handled” by another expert psychologist or counselor to mold the client to understand what is to be expected of him to achieve the result desired. The “handling” of clients is no different than a civil trial lawyer employing mock juries or witness preparation experts in advance of trial. Often times, the domestic relations attorney will work the legal aspect and leave the psychological aspect to others. Today, the prudent domestic relations attorney must play the role of legal advocate, and the client “handler” in advance of the psychological and or trial process. This applies to all situations throughout the trial process, independent of psychological issues in your case. It applies to deposition preparation, trial testimony, meeting with a Guardian Ad Litem, or counselor.  While it certainly doesn’t guarantee results, it improves the chances of success.

As the client, when everything is on the line, money, property and/or custody, demand that your attorney become a “handler” in addition to your legal advocate. I have stated many times before in other articles, that representing men facing divorce is about planning, preparation and presentation and nothing else. Thus, in one word, PREPARE. Your outcome CAN be affected. In this day and age, representing men and father’s facing divorce requires more than the legal knowledge and experience in domestic relations. It requires an attorney to think outside of the box.  It requires an attorney, more than not, to act as or obtain the services of a “handler.” By this, I mean, someone who can take you, the client, and prepare or mold you in advance of any event, hearing or counseling/therapy session as may be ordered by the court.  Often times an attorney will simply allow the “non-legal” process to take place without intervention or “handling”. The results of which can be disastrous.

End of Content Icon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.