In trying times, many people can fall victim to stress and try to take control of a situation the best they know how. In family law, this can manifest itself in situations where tensions brew and give rise to instances in which an individual may try to fix by their problems by engaging in self-help remedies, also known as “street justice”.
Emotions take over and logic and rationality goes out of window. While self-help may provide a sense of immediate gratification, the consequences could impact you substantially in your case, your pocketbook, and your long-term peace of mind.
Below, I have listed three key ways in which “street justice” can hurt you in the long run:
- Financially. Deciding to take matters into your own hands may appear to come at a very low cost. However, undoing the web of foolishness that usually results tends to cost much more in the long run. More litigation and more remedial tools typically results in a hearty attorney bill later. Save yourself money and consult with counsel now, before you make sudden, impulsive moves that could damage your chances of prevailing in the future.
- Small victories do not mean that you have won the war. In family law, there are often smaller battles that are created when you decide to take matters into your own hands. While taking solace in self-help or “street justice”, you may be playing into a trap strategically set by your opponent. For example: you file for a downward child support modification. Court is scheduled in February, but you decide to decrease your own child support now, despite knowingly being under an order to continue to pay as you had been before. Not only have you walked yourself into a contempt, but you have now exposed yourself to possibly having to pay your opposing party’s attorney’s fees, not to mention ruffling the feathers of your judge, who will ultimately decide whether and by how much to reduce your child support. In other words, your short-term decision has just funded your adversary.
- You just became your own worst enemy. When you take justice into your own hands, just know that it takes double the time to dig yourself out of the hole. For instance: a father is amid a divorce and custody battle. After visitation, he decides to not bring the child back to the mother. While the father does have equal rights to his child, he has now set the stage for what could be a decisive custodial issue. The father has now created an uphill battle to restore trust with not only his co-parent but also the court. Ka-ching. You can hear the attorney fees mounting. And for what? What seemed like a great idea at the time? Something simple has become so much more than was ever necessary.
So, in the final analysis, next time you are tempted to engage in “street justice”, just ask yourself: When’s the last time you removed your own tonsils? Yeah, I thought so…be sure to keep that in mind.