Several weeks ago, I watched the movie, Marriage Story. During the movie, I was troubled by the unfolding story. Those feelings remained with me for weeks. I have thought about the movie almost every day since seeing it and why it bothered me so much.
First, the wife bamboozled her husband. His son was essentially kidnapped and removed out of state, and across the country. This was done under the guise of a family visit. There was a lack of consideration as to the damage done to the son by this removal. Basically, the focus of the movie was on the wife preemptively “winning” her custody and relocation battle.
What bothered me so much about this movie is the fact that this could really happen to a parent. Without a strong and attentive judge, and zealous advocacy by your lawyer, this very power move could occur. Instead of the divorce properly being heard in New Jersey, and the child returned home, it could proceed in the far away state. This creates difficulties for the parent that was just harmed by their child’s wrongful removal.
Another premise of Marriage Story that was disheartening was the behavior of the wife’s lawyer. She was a nightmare. It was a shame to see this type of conduct be given such a platform and a broad audience. The lawyer in the movie was a knock on our profession. Lawyers are supposed to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.
I sympathized with the wife for the breakdown of her marriage and the infidelity by her husband. However, it pales in comparison to the potential damage to their child. The poor child was removed from his home and his father. Then he had to deal with the ensuing cross country legal battle. The emotional toll, the financial consequences to the family, the stress and strain of prolonged litigation could have all been avoided if the wife communicated and collaborated with the husband as to how to divorce and go their separate ways.
Relocation, custody and parenting time are often the most important issues in a case. The best interests of the child must always remain paramount. If you have these issues in your case, please call us for a consultation.