United States: Halloween Family Law Horror Stories

Last Updated: November 2 2015
Article by Robert A. Epstein

Michael Myers' favorite day of the year is upon us!  Halloween is here and for New Jersey kids that means trick or treating, trunk or treating (a very Jerseyish-type deviation), mischief night (lock up your eggs, shaving cream and toilet paper), costumes, scary stories, horror movies and more.  For me, it provides the perfect opportunity to share my version of Halloween horror stories, family law style.  A brief frightful list:

1.  Ghosts – The invisible litigant who forces the other party to endure months, if not years of litigation, and incur counsel fees just to get an end game that could have and should have occurred months earlier.  Whether one side entirely buries his or her head in the sand, refuses to respond to discovery requests (or responds with something totally deficient), ignores settlement proposals, does not answer emails or phone calls, and the like, the ghostly litigant can turn what should be a simple matter into something far more contentious and costly for all involved.

2.  Vampires – The "blood sucking" analogy may be a bit too apt here, but the vampire is ultimately the litigant who is willing to dig his teeth into a matter for what seems like forever based on all sorts of reasons (even in daylight hours).  Perhaps that initial financial support order was so good that he is no rush to settle because he knows that the ultimate settlement could be worse than what the order provides.  Maybe the longer the matter draws out, the more time before the custody and parenting time situation will change to her liking.  The possibilities are limitless and, perhaps only counsel fees (aka, garlic) can stop this ageless force from further attack.

3.  Frankenstein – The litigant who is no longer the person they were during the marriage because of the issues raised in the divorce proceeding.  In other words, an entirely new creation who, perhaps, was never around to parent the kids during the marriage, but is now trying to be parent of the year in the midst of an ongoing custody dispute.  Maybe Frankenstein is the financially superior spouse who can suddenly no longer afford to support the household as he or she once did because of a mysterious and ghastly drop in income.  It may not be so simple to stop Frankenstein once the matter moves forward.

4.  Black Cats – When it feels like bad luck just crossed your path and you cannot get out of your own way.  The case where no matter how long it has been going on you cannot get a trial date.  The order that seems completely unfavorable no matter how strong you thought your position to be.  The decision you made that would have been perfectly acceptable during the marriage, but now results in a letter from an opposing attorney, or a motion trying to hold you accountable.  Oftentimes you cannot control when the black cat will strike, and you feel helpless to stop it.

Thankfully these frightful creatures, and so many more, do not rear their ugly heads in every case, but when they do....get your candy ready, hide under the covers, and keep a flashlight on because even though Halloween only comes once per year, these horror stories will keep you awake at night all year long.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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