Archive for September, 2011
By Attorney David Engler
They looked like a perfect couple. She had the athletic good looks of a former college soccer star. He was an up-and-coming programmer at a start-up that had plenty of cash. A new home and a sweet 5-year-old daughter. She was a stay at home Mom and was busy with her hobby/business as a champion Gordon Setter breeder.
But after 7 years of marriages, there were sharp edges. They both partied a bit too much on the weekends and there started to be a reason to get high at the end of each day. Anyway he worked hard and she was a good Mom and it wasn’t hurting anyone else.
Alcohol had a way of causing his one eye to go lazy and his tongue to become acid laced. She knew where the buttons were at and felt justified in giving them a push.
Her younger sister had grown up at their house. Partying was a family trait and the sister wasn’t spared. The wife left for four weeks to see if the bickering would stop. By this time there wasn’t anything foul that had not been said. Good health insurance provided for counseling and it started to work. Part of the plan between them was that the Wife would sneak into her own home so as not to disturb or confuse their daughter and late at night the couple started to rebuild a relationship and find intimacy. The second week into this rebuild the Husband said over the cell that he was going to bed early. She had old suspicions. She went over to the house anyways and turned the doorknob. He thought it was the daughter, put on his robe and went to the door. The look on his face told everything. “where is she?”, she screamed. He denied knowing anything. She looked around the room and under the bed. She tried to open the walk in closet but it wouldn’t open. “Come out Alisha…I know it’s you”. The Wife screamed this for what seemed to be minutes. Alisha was the young co-worker her husband had been on trips with. Finally a voice comes from behind the door, Debbie it’s me I’m so sorry”. Was that her sister’s voice?! She was only 20. It was her voice! “Deb I’m so sorry”.
She turned on her heels and brought a fist from below her right hip directly to the husband’s mouth. While down she added a kick to the family jewels as cheap as they were. She missed with the kick and left a bruise in the thigh.
The next day he filed a police report and asked for a civil protection order right after calling his lawyer. He swore in the affidavit that he was frightened of her and had pictures of his bloody lip to prove it. The form, passed out freely at the domestic relations court, doesn’t ask if you deserved a punch to your pie-hole. And for good measure he threw in the claim that the little girl was nearby when Mom went off her rocker and started hitting him. It was an ex parte order meaning only one side was present. The Court gave him sole occupancy of the house and ordered that the Mother could only see the daughter under supervision. She had to stay at least 500 feet away from the Husband.
She got a lawyer. It was a small town and he advised her to just let this go for now and consent to the Protection Order. It was her biggest mistake. A judge never got to hear that there was a very unique reason for the punch. By the book, it is assault. But some lawyers advise their client’s to shamelessly get a Protection Order. It makes the other side fight uphill especially if throwing a criminal charge on top of it. I view it like negotiating with a terrorist…don’t. Judges, Magistrates and juries are like the rest us. They can see a railroad job and have the ability to say that no protection order is necessary, unless the husband plans on bedding the sister in the future.
It was a disaster after that. The husband had plenty of money to pay lawyers to delay and invite the court to become part of the parenting team. After a few months of not seeing her child, drugs helped numb the pain. It made her mind wander from trying to figure out how she became the guilty one. He also used drugs, but managed to get the court to order a drug test that she failed. No one ever suggested the daughter was anything but loved and well cared for, but mention drugs and she could not possibly be a good mother. So she had to continue to take drug screens to prove she was clean. He did not have to provide a drop of urine. Wear a suit and you can go far.
For two and one-half years it went on this way. She could only see her daughter under the watchful eye of a Hope House worker. In a matter of weeks she went from homeroom mom to the type of mom you see on a prison visit.
She is back with her daughter now almost half-time. It cost her over thirty thousand dollars to get to a place of almost normal. I am not sure there is a moral of this story. As a lawyer , I would tell my client never consent to anything that keeps you away from your children. As a human being I’m not sure I could say “don’t punch your husband in the mouth if you find him in your bed with your little sister”.
(As always my clients consent to my blogs because it might help someone else and the names are changed to protect the innocent)