Our newest partner, Roxanne, practices family law. She and the others who work that area of law have my utmost respect. It can’t be fun, but it’s an absolutely essential service. Depending on your philosophy of practice, a good family law attorney can mitigate the darkness of an aspect of life of which only sickness and death is darker. Or you can prey on it.
I’ve been in family court a few times. Certain equitable relief in land cases involving domestic partners has landed me in family court. You can slice the tension in the air like butter as everybody waits for his/her case to be called with people who once loved each other gracing each other with furtive angry glances all the while holding tightly onto an air of righteousness as though afraid of breaking it. It brings out the worst in us. In San Francisco, you have to pass through a metal detector to get into the courthouse, and then a separate one to get into the family law department. Not even the criminal court has that kind of security.
As it happens I was in court today. Because I was in Eureka my partner asked me to file a matter in the family court up on the third floor. I think I’ve only been up there once before. This time, after completing my business, I noticed a table in the corner of the clerks office with children’s books and crayons. I don’t know why, but just the sight depressed me. I just tried to picture the kids playing there, trying to hide from their parents what they could perceive of the events. Obviously it would be preferable to keep the kids elsewhere, but not all soon-to-be-single moms have the resources.
I don’t know. Maybe it bothered me because I have kids now. I’m very happy in my marriage, but I think that if I wasn’t I’d almost consider just staying in an unhappy one for the kids’ sake. Probably wouldn’t be doing them any favors though. Makes me appreciate what I have.
Kudos also to the clerks in that office. They have a tough job.