Tuesday, September 21, 2010


The short, thin man rises to greet me. He extends his hand and smiles weakly, as if that very act is taking what little energy he has left.

He has been married for over 20 years, but his wife recently left him for another. He is alone now, recently unemployed and trying to raise four kids. The youngest is barely out of her teens, and the oldest is not much older. One is a special needs child. Other than those, he has no family left.

He has now reached the proverbial end of the rope. He is here for information on divorce. And perhaps, he is seeking confirmation for the plan he has laid out.

With an steady voice, he explains his plan. He wants to allow the house to go into foreclosure, and then, give up his children to the state. Just as his wife has walked out on the family, he plans to follow behind her.

His voice is emotionless, not because he has no heart, but because all his emotions are spent. There is no anger left to summon, no tears left to cry, no resolve left. Despair and surrender have moved in, and the only fight left is over which one will take him first.

Now, I am not going to judge him for any of this. I don’t have enough information to pick a side, so I’m not going to judge his wife either.

But man, this sucks.  I try not to get lost thinking about four kids.  Four kids who have no idea their dad is in my office planning to leave them in the hands of a stranger.

I’m still mentally processing this, long after he has left…


K. Erickson said...

I'm in the process of preparing to take the LSAT to go to law school. I've been thinking a lot lately about the ethical and moral implications of that decision, and this post highlights that. Due to my personal beliefs, I don't think I could morally become involved in a case like that no matter how ethically and legally proper it might be. Hopefully, I will never have a case like that presented to me as I don't plan on practicing family law.

Lawyer said...

I think just about every decision I make has moral implications. I will not take any action or case that violates my principles.

That being said, this was actually a bankruptcy consultation. I find that areas of law are like wet paint on a palette. The center of each color is well defined, but the closer you get to the edges, the more blending you see between the areas.

Although my areas of practice are bankruptcy, criminal/traffic, and family law, not a day goes by that I don't deal with real estate, property rights, tax law, estates law, etc... It all blends in. That makes it more important than ever to have a well defined moral compass.