Hot Topics In Family Law
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Hot Topics In Family Law

The Psycho Ex Wife Blogger – He May Win the Battle, But Lose the War

by Leon Bennett on 08/12/11

 Did you happen to catch this story on the Today show earlier this week?

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/3041445/ns/today-parenting/#44072401

I was appalled to hear the story of an obviously bitter ex-husband and father of two, who created a blog called “ThePsychExWife.com”. This gentleman (and I use the term lightly) characterized his musings as “the true account of a marriage, divorce and subsequent (child) custody fight between a loving man, his terroristic ex-wife who we suspect suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder…”. He went on to describe his ex-wife, the mother of his children, as “…Jabba the Hut with less personality”. He continued to detail every perceived character flaw and parental misstep of his ex-wife.
At a recent court hearing in the couple’s ongoing and highly contentious child custody case, the judge ordered that the website be taken down and for the father to stop bad mouthing the mother in public. Yet, the judge left the existing shared custody arrangement in place. Quite an interesting ruling, to say the least.
One of our great privileges in the United States is that of freedom of speech. The constitution guarantees us that right. I do believe that if ex-husband appeals the judge’s decision regarding removal of the blog, the decision will be overturned. It must be to protect his right to free speech. However, I do believe many people today have forgotten a basic lesson we all learned as children – simply because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Can’t we all hear our parents saying “If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?”! That same principle applies here. Simply because ex-husband has the constitutional right to freedom of speech, which includes bad mouthing his ex-wife, it doesn’t mean he should. In all child custody cases, the main focus must be on the best interests of the children. Ex-wife has publicly stated that her ten and twelve year old sons know of the blog and have asked their father to stop writing it. I don’t know of any family law judge, commissioner or child custody evaluator who would look favorably upon such a blog. In fact, in my experience, many judges might alter custody arrangements given such behavior. Ex-husband can say what he wishes, but he must also accept the consequences. One parent publicly bashing the other is simply not in the best interests of the children. Period. Even if the allegations are true. Yes, even if.
Having practiced family law for nearly thirty years, I can understand the appeal a blog such as this might have for those who have been involved in lengthy and contentious child custody battles. It is my job to let my clients know that negative public rantings regarding their child’s other parent will only impact negatively upon blogger, and may affect the amount of custodial time with their children. Mr. Blogger may well find he ultimately wins the battle of the blog, but loses the custodial war.

Mediation – What’s It All About?

by Leon Bennett on 06/02/11

Mediation is the new “buzz word” in family law, but what does it really mean? Many jurisdictions now require that disputes be mediated before the parties head to court. Is this just an unnecessary step in an already lengthy legal process? Or is there real value to mediation?

Simply put, mediation is voluntary negotiation with the assistance of a neutral mediator. The mediator guides the parties through discussions to determine the issues in dispute and to suggest possible solutions. The mediator will try to enhance communication between the parties and move them toward an agreement. Each party may have their own counsel at the mediation, who will be able to point out the pros and cons of various settlement proposals. Or, the parties may devise a settlement proposal with just the mediator, and then have it reviewed by their independent counsel at a later time. Mediation is not binding until the parties reach an agreement, and that agreement is approved by the court.

The mediation process combines four key components: the process is voluntary and the parties may leave at any time for any reason, a collaborative approach is employed, the mediator is impartial and does not represent the sole interests of either party, an agreement can only be reached with the consent of both parties, and the process is confidential.

The success or failure of the mediation process is greatly dependent upon the parties involved. If communication between the parties has deteriorated to a point where there is now a level of distrust, reaching an agreement may be unlikely. However, if the parties approach the mediation process as a tool with which to quickly, and hopefully less painfully, resolve their disputed issues, it can be invaluable. Mediated settlement agreements generally involve far less time, and money, than litigated matters. For parties who wish to remain on good terms, and are committed to negotiating in good-faith to reach an equitable settlement, mediation may just be the answer.

 

 

 

Mr. Bennett has served as a Mediator for Family Law matters, as well as independent counsel for the review of mediated agreements. To speak with Mr. Bennett about whether Mediation is right for you, please contact our offices at (818) 888-7731 to schedule a complimentary free consultation.