family law

Divorce Hotel?

The New York Times recently ran a story on “Divorce Hotels”.  It’s not such a strange concept.  Click here for the NY Times story. A divorcing coupe stays at the same hotel to ensure the process moves forward. No delays. Lawyers there focus on that case. Paying attention to a case often helps “get ‘er done”.

Is this the wave of the future? Probably not.  Is there a place for it? Maybe.  The real bottom line is that once people are ready, emotionally and with all of the facts (an understanding of all finances/incomes/property values, etc.), divorcing parties should get together, be it for mediation or a settlement conference, or even a weekend at the “divorce hotel”, and they should not stop trying to reach resolution until it is done.  The alternative, trial, is expensive, costly and very, very imperfect.  Keeping hold of your own desitiny is vital.  Mediation, and maybe even the “divorce hotel” offers an opportunity to do that.


30th Annual Family Law Institute this week in Amelia Island!

The 30th annual Georgia Bar, Family Law Institute is this week in Amelia Island, Florida. There are already over 500 people signed up. This is the final seminar for my year as Chair of the Family Law Section in Georgia and I must thank Kelly Miles for putting together such an outstanding program. Click here for the entire agenda.  The whole seminar is filled with Cutting Edge topics in Family Law, Hot Tips, case law update and a surprise speaker at the end.  There will be ample opportunity not only to learn, but to network and meet other family law attorneys whom you may have litigated against, or with andothers who you certainly will meet for work in the future.  Why not come to the program and try to meet them now, while you have no cases against them.  It will make it much easier to handle cases together if you develop that relationship independent of any client directives or litigation which may make for a rougher start to a relationship?

I look forward to seeing those of you who have signed up and those of you who still may.  Let’s learn and have fun together.


“Handling” the Media (in Family Law Matters)?

On Wednesday January 18, 2012 I will be presenting a Webinar for the ABA. It is one that is interesting to me. The title? Handling the Media in a Family Law Matter. I am sure I don’t know all the answers, but preparing for it and thinking about it has been educational and enjoyable.

While there certainly is more than one way to work with the press, I have found that being forthcoming with the media, even if my answer is “I don’t know”, or “I know but cannot and will not say”, has been the best. The media have much power, but in the end, they, like we, are people making decisions and judgment calls so why make them second guess your honesty or integrity.

I am looking forward to the program. If you have any helpful tips, resources, insights or suggestions, please pass them along. It can only help improve the presentation.


Winning Settlement Strategies

On January 12, 2012, Dennis Collard and I will be presenting at the State Bar of Georgia on “Winning Settlement Strategies. The seminar brochure can be accessed by clicking here (click for brochure). We are the final speakers for this fine seminar being put on by the General Practice and Trial Law section of the State Bar of Georgia. Other fine speakers include Pete Law and Judge Gino Brogdon among others.

Too often the focus on lawyer education is on how to go to trial. While our particular presentation does indeed cover preparing for trial, our overall point is that by preparing well for trial, you make it more likely you will achieve an appropriate settlement. As with most seminars, the best part of the day will be listening to and watching the other speakers so that I may learn from them. If you are able to join us, please do. And if you have any suggestions for us to consider incorporating into our presentation, please let us know.


ABA Family Law Section plans for South Beach Seminar in full swing

“SoBe”…South Beach in the Spring, what could be better? Please consider joining us April 18-21, 2012. After a very successful CLE program in Vegas this past October, we are on a “CLE roll”. The programs scheduled for Miami include:“How to Impress Judges: Analytical Steps to a Well Organized, Concise, and Engaging Trial”, “Social Networking for the Family Lawyer..” and “If you love me, put it in writing.” The full tentative schedule can be accessed by clicking here.
And one more time, the location…the Eden Roc Hotel in South Beach, in the heart of Miami Beach, is old style Miami art deco, but fully renovated and hip. It’s a great place to learn and to mingle with family law attorneys from across the country. There will be family law discussed not only indoors, but pool side and at the beach. Isn’t that better than your conference room? I hope you will consider joining us for this fun filled educational meeting. See you in the sun!. – Randall M. Kessler


CUBA! Family Lawyers trip

Cuba! To exchange legal ideas with Cuban lawyers, in Cuba, how unbelievable! I am so fortunate to be able to help with this venture next March. The idea is to promote understanding of family law in each country and to exchange ideas that will hopefully help families in both countries.

Again, the goal is to enhance American and Cuban lawyers knowledge and skills in family law, especially now that we may be on the verge of more Cuban and American family law issues as travel and immigration restrictions change. What an opportunity to learn each other’s legal systems with a view to helping Cuban and American families who will go through family law cases.

At this point I am simply excited about the program and am looking forward to it. If you have any ideas, suggestions or comments, please let me know.


Thanks for the opportunity.

I am now a few months into my year as Chair of the American Bar Association’s Family Law Section. Wow, it goes fast. There seem to be fires to put out every week (or every day), but we have great staff at the ABA that really make things easier. There are budget concerns, planning of Continuing Legal Education Events, policy issues and the like. But most of all, there is a sense of responsibility that our group, our Family Law Section has a responsibility; a responsibilty to help. There are issues with military family law matters that we are addressing as well international custody issues (which will be discussed heavily at our Annual Fall Meeting in Las Vegas in two weeks; to see a link to the brochure, click here).

I said in my first Chair’s Column in the Family Advocate and in my speech as I became Chair, that I want to help everyone: lawyers, clients and others, understand the family law process better (chairs column1). Knowledge is power and we should all be as knowledgable as we can about the laws that so vitally affect families, especially children. I look forward to the seminar in two weeks and to making this and future years great and helpful to all lawyers and people, and especially to those dedicated to the field of family law and to helping those with family law problems.


Custody ruling against woman with cancer

I have recently been asked to appear on Headline News to discuss family law cases. One recent one is the woman who has cancer and lost a custody hearing (click here for a link to the video).

It seems like it was a really difficult case, but like all child custody cases, this one must have been, and likely was reviewed by the judge with the focus being “What is in the best interests of the children”. Like any case, it is easy to second guess. But the factors the judge likely focused on were those that affected the children and what would give them the best shot at good, stable futures. We must resist the temptation to judge the headlines and hope that if we ever need a judge to help determine our disputes, the judge will listen to all the evidence and do what is right, especially in the case of children. We can never know, but let’s hope this judge made the right decision and these children and this woman heals (and that the whole family heals).


Forms book to be delivered any day

Georgia Family Law Forms Book CoverI am getting excited. The forms’ book “Georgia Library of Family Law Forms” which we have been working on for about a year is about to be delivered. The truck should arrive within a week or two and the first printed copies will then be available (for more details, or to order, click here).

The book is a great place to start if you are building your own set of family law forms or if you just want a resource “just in case”. It forced us to review all of our forms and to create new ones. If you do purchase the book and wish there was a form there which is not, please let me know and I will see what I can do. But it is fairly comprehensive for a first edition and I am very proud of it. Working with the publisher, editor and all of the staff (theirs and ours) has truly been a pleasure as we have all been dedicated to producing a high quality product. It is almost here and I am really looking forward to seeing it, and to hearing your feedback. Please don’t be shy and let me know your thoughts once it is out.


ABA meeting informative and rewarding

The Annual American Bar Association meeting, held this year in Toronto, has been quite interesting.  I have gone to meetings for all sorts of committees (Commission on Youth at Risk, and many others) and seminars on all sorts of topics (including gay marriage and the future of marriage and family law).  At a committee breakfast, I learned of a social media initiative to educate parents on how their children may perceive their parents or other’s views on homosexuality.  They have created a video that may go viral (thekidsarelistening.org).

There are also programs on line to help lawyers learn how to represent children including how to interview children located on the website of the Litigation Section of the ABA. This was done by the Litigation Section’s Children’s Rights committee.

But most importantly, as always, is the camaraderie. Seeing local metropolitan Atlanta judges and lawyers as well as family law attorneys and judges from across the country is very enjoyable for me. We are all here to learn and help and the amount of energy that lawyers are putting into improving our society and our communities is evident.  Lawyers and others rising early and going to working meetings at 7:00 am on a Sunday to address the needs of foster children and child trafficking is really heartwarming.

I am glad to be an active lawyer and part of something bigger.  Even though the ABA may support various ideas that often generate much discussion and disagreement, it is a peaceful way to effectuate change, and a most valuable endeavor.