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Keeping Your Hands Clean During Your Child Custody Case

child custody mistakes Aug 17, 2019

In the law, there is a term of art and it’s called ‘having unclean hands’.  What this means is when you're involved in court litigation and you have unclean hands you've either done something to violate a law, violate an agreement or a rule.  Oftentimes when somebody who has unclean hands or dirty hands is asking for a certain type of relief from the court and the court sees that that person has unclean hands the court may not be inclined to grant the relief because they say that person has unclean hands.

Often times when somebody who has unclean hands or dirty hands is asking for a certain type of relief from the court if the court sees that that person has unclean hands the court may not be inclined to grant the relief because they say that person has unclean hands.

 The reason I'm bringing this up now is that I'm involved in a highly contested child custody proceeding.  It’s a hotly contested proceeding and there's a lot of finger-pointing going on both by the parties.  The other attorney is doing a lot of finger-pointing at me and I've done some finger-pointing myself but one thing that I have become very aware of and I'm super attentive to right now is making sure that my hands and my client's hands are clean.

I am making sure we are following the letter of the law to the T we're following all the statutes we're following the rules we're following the current court orders and that we are on the up and up.   If we say we're going to do something that we follow through.

I know when this case gets to the point where we get to trial both sides are going to want to get paid for attorney’s fees.   It’s going to be more difficult for the judge to award those fees if we haven't done what we said we were going to do or what we were supposed to do under the law.   A lot of times my clients say to me well you know there are rules in place and there are orders in place but the other side isn't following all the rules and it's not fair. 

So they decide they are just going to start doing what the other side is doing and not follow the rules.  I, of course, discourage that. Even if you feel like you're getting the shaft because the other side is not following the rules remember they have unclean hands.   If a person has unclean hands then that's more of a reason for a judge to find that they behaved unreasonably during the litigation.   Being hit for unreasonable behaviors is one of the primary reasons that judges award attorneys fees at least in my jurisdiction.