This is why we do what we do

Posted Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 by Gregory Forman
Filed under Attorney-Client Relations, Not South Carolina Specific, Of Interest to Family Court Litigants, Of Interest to Family Law Attorneys, Of Interest to General Public

I received an email from a recent client this weekend which concluded:

On a better note I just took [my son] to disney world and the florida keys. ten days camping out of a pickup with a cap living the good life all for $1500 and half of that was gas. thank you so much for all of your help. worth every dime.

Such expressions of gratitude are not uncommon for family law attorneys, especially those who handle custody cases.  The father above retained me in early 2013 to seek custody of his son after receiving reports that the mother was living a rather unstable and dangerous life.  We quickly removed son from mother’s care but the court was initially reluctant to give him custody and instead awarded custody to his mother–who lived near him in upstate New York.  For the next year he and his mother raised his son together while he got his son into a charter school and stabilized his son’s dental and educational problems.  An early 2014 trial resulted in a final order giving him sole custody and the right to have his son permanently remain in upstate New York.  Now he is finally able to engage in the normal pleasures of parenting–such as taking his son camping and to Disney–as well as the responsibilities.

Helping parents gain the right to these pleasures and responsibilities is one of the chief satisfactions of practicing family law.  Folks often ask family law attorneys why they entered a field in which the litigants are typically unhappy, even miserable.  The family law attorneys I most respect generally give similar answers: to help parents be parents and to help spouses free themselves from marriages that drain them of happiness.  Most civil litigation involves mere issues of money.  For a family court litigant obtaining a successful outcome results in daily satisfactions.  The reason this blog title uses the first person plural (“we”) is because this experience of client gratitude and this reason for entering this field is common for almost every family law attorney I respect.

That moving from family court judge to circuit court judge is considered a promotion is one of the sadder commentaries on our culture–yet another indication that we value money more than family.  Those who practice family law with passion realize that this is inverted values.  Enabling a biological parent to become or remain a hands-on parent is why we do what we do.

6 thoughts on This is why we do what we do

  1. MJ says:

    I save every single thank you note. I look at them from time to time when things seem bleak.

    1. MJ,

      You’re one of the attorneys I was thinking of when I decided to use first person plural.

  2. Rob Bennett says:

    Great job and great story Greg!

  3. Good post, Greg. I have a folder in my office where I have my former clients’ thank-you notes and other expressions of gratitude. At the most recent final hearing I handled, after we received court approval of an agreement giving my client (a father of a child born out of wedlock) about 90% of what he initially requested in his Complaint, as we were walking to the parking lot to leave, my client practically begged me to let him write a testimonial to share on my website. That felt good, too.

  4. mlramsdale says:

    And then there are the clients for whom we do an amazing job and they fail to pay their bill. Unbelievable. Family court probably touches more citizens’ lives than any other court (except, possibly, traffic court??). It truly is under-respected. I find that many other lawyers think that what we do is easy and many young lawyers jump into this profession not realizing that it is, perhaps, one of the more difficult legal fields.

  5. Marc Bernard says:

    Though late in responding to the blog, I can echo the “thank you” of you client above. I would have never won a dance competition with a wonderful 7-year-old girl this weekend without your help.

    It should be noted that there was no impartial 3rd party to judge said competition. However, I owe my win to the both the fact that Pitbull is more relevant than Britney Spears and a great attorney working on my behalf 6 years ago.

    Thank you, Greg!

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