Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Blinded By The Light

Might Get Fooled Again
As I reflected upon my To Thine Own Self Be True piece I recalled a female client, who had separated from the father of their child and formed a romantic relationship with a new man. She saw fit to relocate from the father of the child and do so in circumstances that incurred the wrath of the Federal Magistrate hearing the trial. It was not surprising to hear the mother list a number of complaints of the personality and make up of the father. That is often standard fare in these matters.

What was of more interest to me was that the new man in her life was essentially a carbon copy of the man he replaced, with the exception that he appeared to be a nicer, more considerate version. However the writing was on the wall that the mother was in for a similar future with the new man to that she had with the former partner, if the new man did not maintain his considerate disposition. He was a man without any legal training whatsoever, but that did not stop him from informing my solicitor and I that he could give crucial evidence at the trial and it was evidence that would definitely support the case of the mother.

He was utterly wrong in that assessment, but that was not something which occurred to him. I politely told him the case did not need the benefit of his evidence and insofar as the case is concerned, that is where the matter ended. However as to my overall view of the case, his controlling and overbearing personality was of some concern to me. The mother may very well have been making the same mistake the second time as she made the first time and that may not be a good outcome for the children of the relationships.

Starstruck
Rarely are litigants attuned to the nuances of cross-examination. They often need to learn that the answers they give to questions posed to them can reveal aspects of them and their lives that they would rather not reveal. The answers given and the revelations made in relation to one line of enquiry can end up supporting another, seemingly unrelated, line of enquiry.

More recently a mother consulted me for advice. There was clearly a new man in her life, although she refused to characterise him as her lover. She certainly refused to make a public declaration that she and the new man were in a romantic relationship. Nevertheless her answers and behaviour revealed the strong influence on her life that this new man was achieving. From the information the mother provided it could be clearly seen that the new man was a vain, self-promoter, who was primarily interested in his own advancement in life. Others were merely an adjunct to it and to him. He had plenty of opinions and he was keen to share them. In so doing the ultimate cause he promoted was to make himself the centre of attention.

In conversation with the mother I often heard her reveal details of her interaction with the new man. The impact he had had upon her life was significant, perhaps even profound. Although it is difficult to say that such impact was ultimately positive. The effect of that impact was something she appeared to have significantly undervalued as a relevant issue.

Whilst possessed of many opinions and not being shy about sharing them, his knowledge was deficient in terms of preparing and presenting family law litigation successfully to courts.  It was not surprising to hear the mother reveal that in conversation with the new man, he was highly critical of me and the advice I had provided her. It was sad to see the extent to which she was starstruck by him. Taking his advice over mine was not going to enhance her litigation position. In fact, it was going to harm it. Ultimately, all he cared about was himself.

What was missing from their interaction was a dispassionate view of their relationship and its impact. The new man lacked the legal knowledge, skills and acumen required to enable the mother to properly advance her litigation and make fully informed decisions in respect of it. That obvious deficiency on his part was manifested acutely when the mother continued to consult me for legal advice. Legal advice the mother could not obtain anywhere else, due to the unique knowledge and skill she acknowledged that I possessed.

His actions highlighted his insecurity and brittle self-confidence. Objectively assessing the actions of the mother, she had replaced one poor choice for a partner with another. Using history as a guide, the future of the new relationship is in real danger of traversing the same path as the old relationship. That is hardly likely to be comforting for the children of her relationships.

The Impact of The Seduction
Those men do not act in the best interests of the children or anyone else, they act in their own best interests. Their charm offensive is invariably destructive for the women and often also for the children. That involvement with those men may lead to destructive or self-destructive behaviour on the part of the women is of little concern to them. It is their own power they wish to maintain. Their seduction of the women is based on maintaining their power.

As lawyers, we can advise these women, however they become very skilled at hearing only what they wish to hear and criticism of these men often falls on deaf ears. A different outcome might occur, if the criticism is able to be agitated within the litigation. However those men try to keep their bad qualities out of any relevant litigation, so that they are not the subject of any scrutiny. That includes manipulation of the relevant women to preclude any adverse comment about them.

Ultimately, as I said in naming my short stories blog, you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.