Hartley, Maxwell, & Castellano Attorneys at Law
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The Enemy of Your Enemy is not Necessarily Your Friend

I was sitting in court this morning observing a fairly common occurrence: Dad's baby-mama, has an ex: an ex-baby-daddy, or an ex-husband - from what I heard while present on a case of my own, I couldn't tell. But, Dad's baby-momma had an ex who had decided to collaborate with Dad in telling the Court how evil baby-momma had been in his custodial action against her.

Apparently this had been brewing for a while. Dad's attorney apparently hasn't been attending all the recent seminars talking about how this is a generally bad idea...

At any rate, for some reason unknown to me as a mere bystander, it appeared that Dad's Attorney had not thoroughly vetted his witness. Baby-Momma's ex took the stand and then said absolutely nothing helpful to Dad. He talked about the pressures of their break-up, his desire to see his own kid, and how baby-momma accused him of "all sorts of things" to prevent him from getting time with the child.

Cross-examination was, I must say, a thing of beauty. Baby-momma's Attorney had indeed prepared for this witness. When pressed, the ex would not say with specificity one single thing baby-momma had accused him of doing.

Then (This is paraphrasing, obviously, but I'm sure I've got the gist of it down):

"Do you have any custodial time with your child, Mr. Ex?"

"No, I do not."

"And why not, in your opinion?"

"Because baby-momma accused me of bad things and the mediator and the court believed her."

"What did she accuse you of, if I may ask again?"

"She said I hit her and hurt our child." Finally! A specific claim! I thought impatiently.

"And did you?"

"Of course not. She made it all up."

"Do you have a criminal record, Mr. Ex?" Uh oh, I thought, no longer bored with waiting my turn with the Court.

"Uh... No?" That's a bad sign, I thought, waiting with bated breath for the other shoe to drop.

"Weren't you convicted of...?" And the witness went utterly sideways. Mr. Ex had pleaded to misdemeanor battery against baby-momma, and child endangerment against his child with her.

This meant baby-momma didn't lie about Mr. Ex, as far as the Court was concerned. The entire scenario ended up showing Dad was putting his kids in the presence of Mr. Ex, a violent man, to their detriment. And it ended up giving baby-momma's allegations against Dad some credence - she didn't lie last time, so why lie this time, right?

I'm relating this because all too often we see people reaching out to exes to help them in their case. People need to be much more careful when doing so. As one of my associate attorneys recently said, "The enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend."

He got that right. At best the enemy of your enemy is your enemy's enemy; at worst, he/she is a dirty bomb waiting to explode all over your case.

 

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