Family Court: flaring emotions


A recent shooting attempt after a custody hearing in Chesterfield, Virginia really illustrates the intensity of emotions on display at family courts.  Per the Washington Post story, the alleged perpetrator shot at the opposing attorney from his child custody case heard earlier that day.

Reviewing news stories of shootings or attempted shootings at courthouses around the country, the rate of those occurring in family court cases compared to other types of cases appears quite high.  Without relying upon scientific or objective polling evidence, it’s quite clear that the relatively high incidence in family court shows how high the anger is running in those cases.  This is no surprise to family lawyers, court workers, or even those who have simply sat in at family cases.

Compared to lawsuits over broken contracts or collection suits or other types of cases, most of which revolve around monetary compensation, custody cases are a completely different animal.  Not to say that financial issues (alimony, child support, property division) should be taken lightly, there is the feeling that money will come and go, but parties in a custody case cannot replace their child.  As such there is frequently a feeling of desperation in custody cases that one does not see in other matters.

Outbursts of violence as in the Virginia case are simply a reminder of how high the stakes are in custody cases, for all parties.

At Doi/Luke, we have extensive experience in dealing with heated, emotional Family Court situations.  If you are facing this kind of turmoil, give us a call at 593-2199, and we will take the time to talk with you.

About Gavin K. Doi

Gavin, a founding partner of Doi/Luke, was born and reared in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, graduating from McKinley High School, and receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver College of Law in Denver, Colorado. Previously, Gavin worked with the Child Support Enforcement Agency and the AmeriCorps Domestic Violence Clinic. An advocate of pro bono legal work, Gavin volunteers time with Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii and the Hawai’i State Bar Association. In 2013, Gavin co-authored the book Child Custody Litigation and Settlements (Aspatore Books/Thomson West), penning the section "Working with Your Client Towards a Successful Child Custody Case." Gavin is a member of the Hawaii State Bar Association and the HSBA Family Law Section, and was presented with the 2002 Justice Award by the Hawaii State Bar Association, which honors one lawyer annually for their outstanding contribution to the ideals of justice. The Hawaii Access to Justice Commission honored Gavin in 2012 for his pro bono service to the community. Gavin has extensive experience in divorce, paternity, child custody, child support, restraining orders, and other family law matters, and has a Distinguished rating with Martindale-Hubble®/, and an Avvo rating of 10 out of 10. He can be e-mailed at: .

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