March 17, 2004

Mysteries Without End

My wife has a very close friend who is a professional court-goer. At least that's what it seems. After a bitter divorce, she's been fighting to keep custody of her now eight-year old child for seeming ever.

She's recently asked my wife to take off work and fly to Chicago to show support by showing the judge that someone is friend enough to take off work and fly to Chicago and show her support.

This interests me on several levels. One is how to determine what is reasonable and what is unreasonable in a friend's request. My wife asked me and I said lamely that only she could make that determination. Would a whole week be reasonable? Would taking three vacation days be reasonable? Bone and Cal and I error on the side of hardly making requests at all, which I think is a typical "guy thing" (asking-directions-as-a-sign-of-weakness syndrome). Men don't make demands because they are more likely to fall prey to the cult of self-reliance and because part of the joy of having a male friend, as opposed to a wife, is the former doesn't make demands and the latter makes a plethora of demands. (My wife excluded, of course.)

So there's that.

The second level of interest for me is why "support" in the form of a warm body is necessary. Personally I'd be a lot more inclined to go if she'd said, "I want you to go because I don't want to go through this alone" rather than this b-s about impressing a judge.

I can scarcely comprehend that we have a system where you can lose custody of your child unless you drag a friend four hundred miles away to court. I can't comprehend that my wife's friend has been a bad enough mother (which she most certainly hasn't) that my wife's presence could be decisive. The whole thing smacks of mystery; why can't the court can't make up its mind? Their custody battles drag on longer than most death penalty cases.

I should mention that both my wife's friend and her ex-husband are exceptionally high income-earners and together have spent close to the gross national product of Bolivia on attorney fees.

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