Late Night Open Thread

Are there any readers here who are lawyers in the Leesburg, VA, area? I have a childhood friend who has been divorced since 2002 and has two boys, ages 11 and 14. She has had custody forever, but her degenerate husband moved to NC and now is waging a custody battle she can not afford. She is a single mom working to just pay for rent and food and her kids, and simply can not afford a competent lawyer at 350 an hour. She’s also a good person. So if you know of anyone who would be willing to help, or if you can help, it would be much appreciated. She just needs help, and while she is willing to pay, she can’t pay exorbitant amounts.

75 replies
  1. 1
    Matthew Reid Krell says:

    Not me, but I’ve activated my network, such as it is. Custody battles are fun!

  2. 2
    Matthew Reid Krell says:

    Also, there may be issues with solicitation rules; I don’t know Virginia’s rules, so just be aware that even if you have people who might be willing to help, that they may not be able to come forward.

  3. 3
    PsiFighter37 says:

    Damn, lawyers are expensive. Unfortunately I am not a lawyer, nor do I know anyone in that area. Best of luck to your friend, though – sounds like a shitty situation. I guess my mom got lucky in that she didn’t have any custody issues in her two divorces.

  4. 4
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Cole, ask eemom. She is in the area; I don’t think she does family law, but she might be able to point you toward someone.

  5. 5
    Hal says:

    Leslie Uggams doesn’t know the lyrics, so she improvises (as in makes them up.) I just find this video great for a good laugh.

  6. 6
    redshirt says:

    This sounds like a case for “Single Female Lawyer”.

  7. 7
    Corner Stone says:

    Custody battles. As a single dad with custody of my son I’ll just say the whole system is stacked against the male.
    This is irrespective of this specific instance.

  8. 8
    👽 Martin says:

    @redshirt: We need an unmarried human female struggling to succeed in a human male’s world.

  9. 9
    David Koch says:

    Saul Goodman is pretty good.

  10. 10
    KG says:

    Sorry, I don’t have any lawyers in my network in the area. Hope she finds someone, though. There may be some legal aid programs in the area that can provide some help

  11. 11
    Yutsano says:

    The lesbyterian lawyer I used to work with is originally from VA and went to law school there. I can check if she knows anyone around those parts who might be able to give a hand here.

  12. 12
    Amir Khalid says:

    Good golly Miss Molly, the NYT actually pays Chunky Bobo for crap like Boehner, American Hero?

    Either Democrats need to consolidate their advantages and win back the House or Republicans need to find a way to start winning national elections again, at which point the current impasse will be broken and policy will tilt more clearly toward the left or right.

    The Republicans gaining the upper hand in Congress would only result in the paralysis of governance by incompetence.

  13. 13
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Amir Khalid: I need either to start drinking a lot more or a lot less in order to read that stuff.

  14. 14
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: i vote a lot more.

  15. 15
    Anniecat45 says:

    I don’t live in VA but I do work in the legal business. Your friend might consider contacting law schools in her area; they often have free or low cost legal clinics that work on family law cases.

  16. 16
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @TheMightyTrowel: So would Psifighter37 if he were here.

  17. 17
    Anniecat45 says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Boy, have i got some pro per litigants in my appeals court who would disagree with you!

  18. 18
    Yutsano says:

    @Amir Khalid: Oh Jeebus that was a fucking piece of dreck. Chunky Bobo really is stretching the limits of credibility trying to find SOMETHING decent to say about Johnnie Boy but really all he did was highlight just how ineffective he really is at his job. And it’s not even as a back-handed compliment. Not to mention the grammatical atrocities committed throughout.

  19. 19
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I do not believe that drinking less will help. I’ve tested this hypothesis.

  20. 20
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corner Stone: @Anniecat45: My view, and one of the reasons I have done everything possible – including being broke – to avoid any involvement in family law, is that every fucking thing about it sucks. When I first stated practicing law the only part of the courthouse where they searched you for weapons was the family court section. People go mental. And almost no one comes out happy. Fucking horrible.

    @BillinGlendaleCA: Bottoms up then. I still won’t read the dreck.

    +4 since the end of the Packer game that I watched dead sober.

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    Corner Stone says:

    @Anniecat45: In Texas when we finalized our divorce (2007) my family law attorney advised me that in contested custody cases 93% of all verdicts awarded custody to the woman.
    It’s also why I spent almost 9 months negotiating our terms before I filed.

  23. 23
    Suzanne says:

    I hated the custody battle with my ex-husband. I won, which was a toal no shit, but not before we each racked up exorbitant legal bills, which just got us to the same fucking result anyway. What has proven much less expensive and emotionally draining is him going to AA and pulling his head out of his ass, along with having even worse custody issues with his other baby mama, who is such a hose beast that she makes me look like a Georgia peach.

    All this is to say that I don’t know any family lawyers who can help, but your friend has my sympathies.

  24. 24
    Omnes Omnibus says:


    who is such a hose beast that she makes me look like a Georgia peach.

    Wow? but it gives me the opportunity I wanted to post this link. The song has been haunting me for a couple of weeks. Dumb vid, stunning song.

  25. 25
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    Chunky Bobo’s “Either Democrats need to consolidate their advantages and win back the House” is patent bullshit. He’s not so dumb that he doesn’t know the Dems won more votes in House races but got fewer seats because GOP statehouse puppets and their Gerrymandotrons vivisected the districts, and that that advantage isn’t going to fade until the back half of the decade. Either Chunko needs to start advocating for independent districting a la California, or he needs to start talking about how a House majority that has no democratic accountability is dangerous for democracy.

  26. 26
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @pseudonymous in nc: Dude, don’t start. That way madness lies.

  27. 27
    Thirsty Pelican says:

    She should contact Legal Services of Northern Virginia. They handle custody disputes for those who qualify.

    I have never dealt with this particular legal aid outfit, but my experience with the one where I live (Lafayette, Louisiana) is that, even if someone does not qualify for free legal representation from legal services, they can usually point that person towards an attorney who is more reasonably priced.

  28. 28
    Ash Can says:

    Can’t help directly, but I just want to chime in and say that NO, these cases are NOT guaranteed to be decided for the mother, no matter how great she is and how much of a shitheel the father is. It all boils down to how good a lawyer the mother can afford vs. the father, and there are definitely times when the father gets custody of the kids ONLY because he can afford a better lawyer. So if there are ANY readers or commenters or lurkers here who can possibly help out, I STRONGLY encourage you to step forward. This is NOT a slam dunk for the mother. Please help.

  29. 29
    Redshift says:

    I don’t know anyone personally, but I’d suggest contacting Legal Services of Northern Virginia, if she hasn’t already. They list custody as one of the areas they deal with.

  30. 30
    Ash Can says:

    P.S.: Cole, you should repost this bleg at at least one higher-traffic time than this.

  31. 31
    Anoniminous says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    After an EXCELLENTLY fine 4 course dinner plus some nibblements cooked and presented by a 4 star rated chef, consumed over three hours in the company of friends, I’m relaxed and contented with life and there’s nothing in God’s Blue/Green world that can make go read a bunch of drivel & bullshit by Bobo Teh Intellectual Deficient.

    Going to zone out on some Froggy Impressionism whilst digesting.

    (+Damifino. Lessee … 5 bottles eau de vino divided by 6, 3 (or was it 4?) glasses of port, and a wee dram o’brandy. Screw it. You figure it out.)

  32. 32
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Anoniminous: (+Damifino. Lessee … 5 bottles eau de vino divided by 6, 3 (or was it 4?) glasses of port, and a wee dram o’brandy. Screw it. You figure it out.)

    You aren’t feeling any pain?

  33. 33
    Pooh says:

    How close is Leesburg to D.C.? My best friend from law school has a family law practice in suburdan/exurban DC

  34. 34
    Anoniminous says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    The wine was drunk over three hours, with the meal so the lingering affects should be minor. Besides, wine and brandy is made from grape juice, grape juice is healthy, so drinking all that makes me healthy.


  35. 35
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Anoniminous: I weren’t criticizing.

  36. 36
    Redshift says:

    @Pooh: Leesburg is in Loudoun County VA; DC exurbs. If his practice extends to the exurbs, then it probably includes Leesburg.

  37. 37
    eemom says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Cole, ask eemom. She is in the area; I don’t think she does family law, but she might be able to point you toward someone.

    Yep, I am, I don’t, but I possibly can. My neighbor is an excellent domestic relations attorney with many years’ experience whom I often refer people too. Also a staunch fellow Dem/liberal very active in local politics.

    The caveat is I’m not sure he practices as far out as Leesburg, or exactly how affordable his rates are. But he might be able to help and/or give her another referral.

    E-mail me at oddmommy at cox dot net, Cole.

  38. 38
    Anoniminous says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Didn’t think you were.

    I was being humorous(c).

    ETA: Now listening to Barbour’s Adagio for Strings.

  39. 39
    Anoniminous says:


    Well that sucks. Chopped it off after 3 minutes.

    Finishing with Bernstein’s recording. (Not that I’m a great fan of Leonard.)

  40. 40
    Less Popular Tim says:

    @Matthew Reid Krell: ?? In what jurisdiction would it constitute barratry or violate a rule regarding solicitation to offer to represent someone (including on a pro bono basis) who has an existing legal dispute, in response to another party’s request?

  41. 41
  42. 42
    Pooh says:


    I’ll pass it along and see what suggestions she might have.

  43. 43
    Xenos says:

    Poor lady needs cash — ability of the lawyer is important, but yet more important is the resources for organizing and proceeding with discovery, expert witnesses, trial preparation.

    $10,000 to 20,000 to get started, for a relatively simple case.

    If this is not in the cards then she needs legal aide in a big way. Failing that, she needs very good advice on how to survive this. A defensive strategy that drags things out five years or more and at every step makes everything incredibly expensive for the father may be the best option. And focus on the 11 year-old. The 14 year old is already old enough to decide for himself where he wants to live.

  44. 44
  45. 45
    Narcissus says:

    I can’t tell you how much divorce makes me never want to get married

  46. 46
  47. 47
    Xenos says:

    @Corner Stone: The main reason 93 percent of cases end up with custody going to the mother is because most of the fathers going to court are unarmed men picking a battle of wits. If you educate yourself and prepare your case before you file there is no disadvantage to being male.

    If one side gets the drop on the other it is likely to win, as most of the important facts need to be lined up on your side before filing. Most of the Dads who are convinced the system is stacked against them lost their cases long before they began.

  48. 48
  49. 49
    Suzanne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Song is really good.

    What? It surprises you that there is someone on the face of the earth that’s more of an asshole than I? I don’t know whether to be honored or insulted.

  50. 50
    Peter says:

    @Xenos: I’m really not sure how you can excuse away such a massive disparity with ‘well the men are just stupid’. If it was, I don’t know, 60-40 maybe I could buy that, but 93%? You’re basically saying that just under none out of ten men are too stupid to consult a lawyer before stepping into a courtroom. If that actually is the case, then I think you would have some explaining to do about exactly why that is the case.

    Note: I don’t know whether that number is actually accurate or not. Either way, Xenos accepts it and builds his argument from it.

  51. 51
    DecidedFenceSitter says:

    Thankfully my divorce was before I had kids, so no personal experience, but asking my friend who used to do a lot of pro bono death penalty work to see if he knows anyone recommendable.

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  54. 54
    Thor Heyerdahl says:


    Thanks – that was fantastic!

  55. 55
    Xenos says:

    @Peter: First off, if equal results would imply a 50-50 split then the difference here is between 1/2 and 1/14. To put it back into percentages, out of 100 cases, 43 cases fathers should have won have been lost.

    But that assumes equal facts prior to the commecement of the case. Any situation where the mother has done most of the childcare up to the date of filing does not have equal facts. This simple matter predisposes the cases toward the mother winning.

    It is not so much a matter of law as the parties recognizing the state of the law and adjusting their behaviour. I have seen women do terribly unethical things that have ensured their success in custody cases – I don’t mean to excuse the abuses in these cases. But in most of these disputed custody cases the father is often way out of his league when it comes down to preparing the field of battle.

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  57. 57
    Peter says:

    @Xenos: So then you admit that the system is biased in favor of the mother, owing largely to society’s perception of the mother as the superior caretaker, and not because of men’s stupidity and failure to contact a lawyer?

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    Xenos says:

    @Peter: Bias has nothing to do with it, you dolt. Gender norms result in women providing most of the daily care – this is factual, nothing to do with bias. But once the fact pattern is established in a particular case it is hard (not impossible, but difficult) to overcome it.

    In the example here, Cole’s friend has been providing the care, shouldering all the responsibility and maintaining he emotional support for the children, and so on. So an analysis of the best interests of the children will clearly favor continuity. If there is no basis for claiming the mother is unfit, she is very unlikely to lose this case even where the father can outspend her.

    Since she can not afford to spend anything, however, I would probably give the father the advantage in this case, as he is in control of timing. He presumably has picked moment when other facts are on his side and he can afford to press his case.

    If access to legal representation is equal here, and there is no new facts that bring Mom’s fitness into question, then Dad has much less than a 50-50 chance of winning, which is as it should be.

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  63. 63
    Todd says:


    Clinic lawyers invariably suck ass. You get what you pay for.

  64. 64
    Paula says:

    There are good lawyers that will help and work out a payment plan.

    I found a great lawyer to take my case (he was a tricky bastard), though I was sueing for paternity/child support.

    Good luck.

  65. 65
    Corner Stone says:

    @Peter: My attorney provided that stat and I never questioned it as it was immaterial to my situation. I’ve heard it’s getting better (using a relative term for what I consider more “fair”) but if you’re at all familiar with judges in TX you would still not feel very confident if you were a male.

  66. 66
    Frank says:

    She has had custody forever, but her degenerate husband moved to NC and now is waging a custody battle she can not afford.

    It might help if you don’t refer to her ex-husband, and father of her children, as a degenerate. It could be something that he uses against her in court.

  67. 67
    gelfling545 says:

    @Todd: Totally not true here. The absolutely best lawyer I know (and I know a fair few having worked a few years as a legal assistant after retiring from teaching) spent the first 25 years of his career in legal aid and he brought a number of really fine legal professionals on board as young attorneys & helped them develop into fine advocates. He is now doing the second half of his career in private practice and is still dynamite. Problem with clinic law is usually quantity, not quality – just not enough available to meet the need.
    I would suggest that if Mr. Cole or his friend know any law students that they ask them to ask their professors in the family law area what the best path might be for that area.Remember, too, that the children will be assigned a law guardian for the proceedings and that they are old enough to speak their minds about the situation.

  68. 68
    Corner Stone says:

    @Xenos: So briefly, I will say I interviewed several different attorneys before engaging one. I asked them a series of questions but my first question was always, “How do you feel about the father getting custody?”. Believe it or not, some family law practitioners could not adequately answer this question. I hired a small practice that did nothing but family law and was staffed entirely by female lawyers. When I asked her about male custody she said, “That’s what we do here. Every day.”
    She guided me through many steps that I needed to take to protect my rights, and even though my ex and I had already agreed to custody at this point, I still did every thing she instructed me to. From taking parenting classes, to introducing myself to his teachers and school principal, taking him to Dr.s appts and talking to everyone, to keeping a calendar of when he stayed where. All kinds of things.
    So even though we had agreed to all terms by this stage, I take your point about putting the work in and getting all info lined up before hand very seriously. Because society does immediately consider the mother the main caregiver, and they lend her that bias. Even when it may not be the case.

    I think, IMO, that most people are deeply hurt and angry when they divorce and want their attorney to punish someone instead of protect the child(ren). And some attorneys go along with this, to their shame.

  69. 69
    wuzzat says:


    And focus on the 11 year-old. The 14 year old is already old enough to decide for himself where he wants to live.

    Discuss this with the 14-year-old first. At length. Custody battles are ugly, and it’s kind of fucked up to make a kid watch his parents fight over who gets custody of his younger brother while ignoring him.

  70. 70
    Anniecat45 says:


    An awful lot of fathers flaked out of their kids’ lives long before the divorce. I’d bet that 93% figure covers ALL fathers, including the abusive ones and the ones who left the state to avoid child support (both tales from the annals of a court clerk).

  71. 71
    chopper says:

    @Corner Stone:

    this is precisely why so many dads don’t get custody. many dads don’t do very much parenting, at least not the day-to-day stuff that matters, and then they walk into a proceeding and can’t even name their kids’ teachers or know when to take their kid to a doctor (or even who the kid’s doctor is).

    then they walk about bitching about how the court system is stacked against men. well really it’s more that it’s stacked against people who don’t know much about parenting, which is supposed to be a good thing.

    as a work-at-home dad who is the primary caretaker of a kid, it drives me nuts how absolutely clueless so many dads are when it comes to being a parent.

  72. 72
    chopper says:


    best way to stick it to the dad is to come up with a million things that he has to come to VA to deal with in person. make them on all sorts of regular workdays, around the mom’s schedule (since she’s the caretaker of the kids). stupid paperwork meeting-type bullshit.

    make him take a million days off work and shlep up and back a bunch of times. if he’s going to wait until the most opportune time to make it financially difficult for her, well she can make it financially difficult for him too.

  73. 73
    Corner Stone says:


    many dads don’t do very much parenting, at least not the day-to-day stuff that matters, and then they walk into a proceeding and can’t even name their kids’ teachers or know when to take their kid to a doctor (or even who the kid’s doctor is).

    I walk my son into his school every morning and on the way out I always see a gaggle of women standing with each other talking. I don’t have time for that. I give them a nod and a smile and head back home. When I volunteer for school parties I’m the only male there. When I show up to have lunch with my son I would guess the mix of other parents there is probably 80/20 % female.
    So, I think there’s still a real societal mindset toward the woman being the caregiver, mainly because it’s still true around these parts. But I take exception at the default that courts in TX have shown by ignoring male parents who have done their best to balance work and parenting.

  74. 74
    Annamal says:


    Actually the reason that women tend to win is that are more likely to have been the child’s caregiver for a higher percentace of time before the divorce and the court will be looking to disrupt the child’s life as little as possible.

    This is true of New Zealand and I suspect of most other western countries as well.

  75. 75
    chopper says:


    exactly. unless you’re talking about a situation where mom and dad split the childraising (and i mean the real day to day nuts and bolts stuff that matters), then you’d hope there’d be no bias in the court toward either one.

    but when mom has done most all the childraising, then dad walks in and says ‘i’m totally willing to make this work. i can balance work and parenting, i even took a class!’, i wouldn’t expect the court to take the kids away from the parent that’s actually been doing the job until then and hand them over to what would be seen as a bit of an unknown entity.

    then you’ve got the dads who wait until the kids are old enough to be on autopilot to start to demand custody. “thanks for putting in all the grunt work for the last 12 years, but now that it’s easier i want the job”.

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