Things your lawyer should not have to learn from Counsel Opposite

  1. Divorce case–you are pregnant, and your formerly soon to be Ex-husband is not the father.

    1a) You are not entirely certain who the father is, other than definitely not your formerly soon to be Ex, but you’ve helpfully compiled a short list of who you think the most likely potential fathers are. :smack:

I’m sure my brethren of the Bar can add other items to the list…

help me here - why does this mean “formerly soon to be Ex”? are you in a fault-only jurisdiction?

I developed an excellent poker face from having discussions with opposing counsel. Then there’s the poker face you develop in domestic violence trials. Since there’s no pre-trial discovery, the first time you hear the abuser’s story is on the stand. And, strangely, it turns out never to have been his fault…

Northern Piper, I parsed it as implying the divorce was imminent – should have been just “soon to be ex-husband.”

Local judges generally won’t grant a divorce while the wife is pregnant. There’s some fairly recent law to indicate that they can, but most of them won’t. This particular case is set before an old school judge. He may surprise me, but I expect that he’s probably going to continue the divorce until after the child is born, and then probably order DNA paternity testing. Also, the settlement agreement I’d tentatively reached with Counsel Opposite is now off the table. He’ll be amending his complaint to allege adultery, to which I have no defense, and I’m now in a much weaker bargaining position.

that makes sense, thanks. I’m in a jurisdiction where adultery is irrelevant to the property settlement, and I’ve never heard of refusing a divorce to a pregnant woman.

Here in Mississippi, you can’t get divorced until the baby is born.

Baby being born didn’t help my son though, his case has dragged out over two years; the other man’s baby which his wife bore is over a year old now. :rolleyes:

Just out of curiousity, if it is shown that the baby is not the (soon to be) ex-husbands, would he still be liable for child support?

that your client is totally bankrupt? :slight_smile:

Just out of curiosity, and sorry for the hijack, but does it usually turn out to be her fault, or did it just happen?

Not a lawyer, but why the hell would the “proven to be not-father” even be remotely liable for child support?

Doubtless someone who knows what they’re talking about will be along soon to answer this, but it’s my understanding that in most jurisdictions, any child born/conceived in wedlock is legally considered to be the child of the the husband, regardless of who supplied the sperm.

I think that’s correct, until the paternity is proven otherwise. For example, after the paternity test showed that my son was not the father, he was not liable for support, nor was he made to keep the child on his medical insurance.

Nope. That’s one reason local judges don’t usually grant a divorce while the wife is pregnant. Assuming that the child is not his, as shown by DNA, he won’t have to pay support, nor will he be entitled to custody/visitation.


Oh, thank God.

IANAL, but I’m curious: “Counsel Opposite” is not an expression I’ve ever come across in my vast and scholarly readings of legal fiction and most careful attention to courtroom dramas in films. I see a Canadian or two here; is it used there?

Yes, but more commonly “opposing counsel” or “my friend.”

We don’t use “counsellor” - if someone calls me that, I know they’ve gained their knowledge of the legal system from extensive tv studying. :slight_smile:

There have been cases where tests have shown that the husband (or ex-husband) is not the father, yet he is liable for support. I think this is usually when the supposed father has been considered the father for a while, and the unexpected paternity is discovered long after the fact.

For my ex-wife’s attorney, it was;

That her “psychopath” husband isn’t mentally ill, but she is.
(The disability she’s on isn’t physical, bud.)
That her husband isn’t actually hiding any money and she knows it.
That she’s lying about how much debt of hers he paid off.
(Yeah, about that, here’s the cancelled checks and he wants the money back.)
That he has witnesses and specifics and documented proof to incidents that she only has broad (and false) accusations and claims about, but no actual details.

I know this is about cases where your opponent tells you something you didn’t know that your client should have told you, and you get to turn to your client and go WTF!?!?!

However, this is kind of related. I was prosecuting a murder trial. It’s a home invasion looking for drugs where the leader of the invaders brought a shotgun and ordered everyone to lie down. Feisty woman resident of the house refused - villain puts shotgun to her head and pulls the trigger with predictable results. When interviewed by the police his defence is “It just went off by itself officer, really!!”

So we get to the end of the trial, all the evidence is led, accused has jumped the box and been cross-examined. We are all about to start jury addresses.

And my opponent comes up to me and says “Mate, can you just remind me, how does this defence of accident work again? What am I allowed to say?”

I was utterly gobsmacked. This guy had run a murder trial all the way to the end without having bothered to look up the one point of law in issue. Things you shouldn’t have to learn from your opponent? Like, um, the law?

So of course you advised him, “The best way to illustrate it is by a courtroom demonstration, mate. Unzip and piss on the courtroom carpet, then explain that you have a weak bladder and that since it was an accident, you can’t be held responsible. Nothing simpler!”