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Family law attorneys are professional bad guys (and gals).

What with the black cowboy hat and patchy sideburns we gum a broken cigar between our lips and let our three-day-stubble do the talking.

If you meet your family law attorney at nine a.m. sharp outside your courtroom and we are not smiling we need you to understand that by that time we have already been browbeaten, brokenhearted, and threatened by that time of day.

Excuse us for strutting into court, banging our rawhide boots on the Plaintiff’s table, and spitting into the clerk’s candy dish.

It’s not that your friendly family law attorneys don’t care.  We don’t know how to not care.  If we didn’t care we would be practicing criminal law.

We weren’t always this way.  Some of the family law attorneys you meet were once children.  Children with dreams (nightmares), homes (caves), and hopes (blank prescription pads).

But after decades of being blamed for everything from a client’s son’s acne breakout to global warming to those sad dogs on ASPCA ads we kind of start to play the role we are given.

All the world’s a stage and you can only play against type for so long.

If you only ever want someone’s gratitude, and all you ever get is someone’s suspicion, then at some point you become Scarface.  If the judge and the parties and the steno all expect you to be the bad guy, you have to either be the bad guy or let everyone down.

Here is a secret.  Anyone who has ever been to Family Court knows it needs its villains.

We are a lightning rod for vitriol. Like moths to the misery.

There is only so much mindfulness meditation and vinyasa yoga you can do to clear your mind and spirit of the stain of hatred, the bitter, astringent stupidity and loathsome loneliness we befriend and build up each day.

Imagine doing triage at an E.R. with no morphine.

Imagine explaining to a mother who hasn’t seen her twin daughters in six months.

Imagine you are watching a husband crumple at the knees in front of you because his wife left him, and took their six children with her.

What can we say, truly?

We maneuver through the terrible machinery for so long that eventually we get snagged.  It may take six months or six years, but everyone gets caught.

A mom who flees the state with her newborn leaving the new father clueless and crestfallen.

The husband who beats his spouse senseless twice a month and uses custody of their children to keep her silent.

The parents who lock their seven-year-old in her room for a weekend at a time.

Forgive us.

If we did not become a part of it, steel and cog, then we would not survive.  We can’t fix it.  We can’t save you or your children or change your ex.  We can’t put it back.

If you, as a parent, feel helpless in all this, imagine putting a tie on and creating order from the chaos of broken hearts, substance abuse, ego, learned helplessness and spite.  Wade through those waters and come out clean.  Hiss at us all you like, the Family Court needs its villains.

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