When divorce and child custody cases get started, the parties are rarely in a cooperative mood. In fact, they are often caught off-guard when they are served the pleadings at work, at a child's event, or even while shopping at the grocery store, and then the anger begins to build. When they hire an attorney to handle the case for them, sometimes the anger is relieved, but most of the time the emotions are just getting riled up.
In South Carolina, our family court cases are typically handled first by a Temporary Hearing which, as you've read before, is a hearing conducted by "affidavit only", and there is no opportunity to directly respond under oath the allegations put forth in the affidavits. Those affidavits, to make matters worse, are exchanged only moments before the hearing is started, thus adding to the 'ambushed' feeling many clients have following the hearing.
It's not uncommon to meet with our clients following that hearing and hear a barrage of instructions from the client like,
"It's time to unleash now!"
"You have my full permission to go for the jugular!"
"You need to call that S-O-B attorney of hers and let him have it!"
"His attorney is a lying P-O-S and you need to kick him where the sun don't shine!"
And those are just the things that we feel comfortable printing. We've heard much worse and in most situations, we can fully empathize with how our clients feel. The frustrations can grow when judges rule in ways which don't seem to line up with the law says, when an attorney on the other side really is playing fast and loose with the facts, or when discovery questions seem to delve into subjects which seem aimed at embarrassment rather than revealing information that is truly relevant to the issues being litigated.
But, as we've told our clients and potential clients for years, our attorneys have an excellent reputation within the Bar for being aggressive, yet always professional and ethical in our representation of our clients' cases. A recent story published by the ABA details just how far one attorney took his aggressive representation and negotiation "tactics" in a case, and I can assure you it did not help his client's case at all. In fact, a judge who heard the matter on in a hearing for sanctions told the attorney that he was "going to do what [he] can to remove [him] from this profession." Ouch!!
Litigation is a tough business and our attorneys are well-trained in the proper way to zealously advocate for our clients, but we also must help our clients see how there are better ways to resolve conflicts than resorting to the "gangster" behavior the judge cited in the above case. Judges have no patience for it. Not only could such conduct be fatal to your case, any attorney who behaves in such a manner will eventually be in front of a judge or the disciplinary body of the Supreme Court to answer for their conduct. You don't want to be the party in any case whose attorney is sanctioned for contempt of court or worse, suspended from the practice of law for bad behavior.
If your case reaches the point where emotions are running so hot that bad behavior is inevitable, talk with your legal team about what changes can be made to ensure no one acts in any way that would be detrimental to your case.
The Stevens Firm, P.A. - Family Law Center has provided exceptional legal counsel and support to families throughout South Carolina for over twenty-five years, handling all matters of family law, such as child custody, child support, and divorce. We are well-equipped to handle all divorce and family law matters, no matter your circumstances. Contact us to schedule an initial consultation today.