Family Law

Family Law News Issue 4, 2019, Volume 41, No. 4

Message from the Chair

Stephen A. Montagna, CFLS

"Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"

Sound familiar? It is a line from the literary classic, "A Christmas Carol" written by Charles Dickens. It is a message that I find fitting for this issue of Family Law News, not only because the holiday season recently happened, but also due to the fact that those of us making a career within the arena of family law have a special opportunity to make mankind our business. Family law is unique. What sets it apart from other areas of law is its nature of being heavily intertwined with personal crisis and human frailty. If you don’t believe me, just take a stroll through your local courthouse, and you will witness an array of emotional distress on full display. In family law, you are guaranteed to bear witness of many modern day dramas; be it the destruction of personal relationships, financial stability being turned upside down, and domestic violence and a plethora of other life changing events that will invariably have an effect on their future. In matters dealing with child custody and visitation, litigation over who gets more time with the minor child is commonplace and the resulting collateral damage done to the family unit can be immeasurable. This is why the role we play as a family law practitioner or judicial officer has such a significant impact on mankind.

Our deeds and actions in the trade we practice reach far beyond the office or courtroom. Many individuals make good use of the opportunities available by volunteering and participating in local or state bar associations. Others contribute by submitting scholarly articles or presenting education on topics that provide insight and direction on the ever-changing landscape of family law. Although California does not currently require that practitioners provide a certain number of hours of pro bono services, there are many among us who sacrifice time and skills advocating on behalf of those who are in need.

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