Al l fami ly law. Al l around Georgia. Al l around the wor ld.
M ay 2020
S tanding U p for W orking M others The Unfai r Bias They Face in the Courtroom
When I say working mothers often face a strong bias in court, many mothers already know this fact. This bias is especially strong because many people inside the court system set a mother’s maternal role to very high standards — often unrealistically so. Mothers find themselves pitted against biased judges and jurors who use preconceived notions about a woman’s maternal role to sometimes leave them worse off than they were, even when they’re doing everything in their power to care for their children. Mothers certainly face an uphill battle because of expectations that remain from years ago. Many people expect mothers to portray the same characteristics as the television character June Cleaver from “Leave It to Beaver” despite the additional demands stemming from myriad circumstances, like mothers who also work a full-time job. From what I’ve seen, judges can perceive a mother as too successful and punish her for it, particularly if her husband has missed the mark over the course of their marriage. It’s as if they feel pity for the man’s relative flaws and may decide that the woman isn’t “motherly” enough. Mothers walk a very fine line of having to be self-sufficient and a devoted parent, to the exclusion of all else. About 10 years ago, there was an attorney in an outlying county where country and suburban intersect. This fellow lost case after case of mothers losing custody in front of a particular judge. He wanted us to solve this seemingly intractable problem. The first time we went out to take a look at things and figure out why this kept happening, we realized what the problem
was. He would tell his clients to dress well for court, and they’d arrive on the day well groomed and looking very professional. However, this judge was such a terrible misogynist that this was all it took for them to lose custody. “Women shouldn’t be professional,” this judge thought. “Women should be motherly.” The best way to help mothers push back against these biases is to soften their appearances. A large part of court is about the production, so we quite intentionally “soften” these mothers to shift the perspective. Our goal is to re-create the character of June Cleaver, complete with a dress and pearls. In any other context, this practice would be offensive, but we have to confront this way of thinking as best we can. In the past, I used to believe that only older judges viewed mothers in this way, but too many of the newer judges carry this bias as well.
In each of our cases, bias is something we keep an eye out for. It is an essential part of the conversations we have with our clients. Whether these biases are rooted in race, nationality, gender, or something else, it’s our job to tell our clients about the ugly truths they’re facing. Often, I’ve found that even while being grateful that we’re willing to be that direct with them, they’re already fully aware of the biases they face. They know better than we do because they’ve been living it for most or all of their lives. Even so, we want to have these conversations to work toward ameliorating these biases. We know how frustrating bias can be, especially when your best interests rest with your children. If you’re ever in a situation where you feel as though you’re fighting an uphill battle, don’t give up. We’re here to help you make it to the top. –Michael Manely 1
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H ealth B enefits of F amily G ardening Give Your Kid the Gi ft of a Green Thumb
Yes, there will always be football season, basketball season, and soccer season, but right now, it’s gardening season. That means it’s time to roll up your sleeves and play in the dirt. If you’ve been searching for a way to get the kids away from technology and engaged with the real world, gardening is the perfect activity for the whole family to enjoy. Not only is it fun, but it’s also beneficial for your kids’ development. For example, gardening can improve your children’s analytical abilities. As Dr. Wendy Matthews says, “Gardening exercises important reasoning, initiation, planning, and organization skills.” Furthermore, several studies, including one at Texas A&M University, suggest that gardening improves a child’s attitude toward fruits and vegetables and may make them more likely to choose them as snacks. Gardening helps kids identify with where their food is coming from, and nothing tastes better than a freshly picked strawberry or pea pod they grew themselves.
Rob Knight, emphasize the health benefits of garden time in their book, “Dirt Is Good: The Advantage of Germs for Your Child’s Developing Immune System.” The two found that exposure to different microbes, like those found in a garden, strengthens a child’s immune system and makes them less likely to develop allergies. If this is your first time gardening, you don’t need much to get started. Grab a few shovels, a pair of gloves for each family member, and fresh potting soil, and you’ll be set. Then, you can decide together which plants you’d like to grow! Carrots are fun because of the surprise factor — just imagine your child discovering that the part they eat grows below the ground! Peas are tasty and fairly easy to grow, as are strawberries. The options really are endless. Depending on the growing season in your area, you can choose to buy seeds or opt for rooted plants.
Last but certainly not least, the best part of gardening as a family is the healthy, fresh produce you’ll get to enjoy all summer long!
Jack Gilbert, a scientist at the University of Chicago and a parent himself, and his co-author,
M argie S till Margie Still has always been interested in law, and though she took many unexpected turns along the way, her path ultimately led her to the legal field. After rekindling her interest, Margie became a paralegal and headed back to school to further her education. “I got a degree,” she says, “and was lucky enough to get into family law.” Family law truly sparked her passion. While in school, Margie enrolled in an internship for one of her classes and ended up working in a law firm that did some family law. Margie describes this area of law as “something I was gravitating toward all along.” She says, “I was lucky to find The Manely Firm, where we only do family law. I knew one of the guys who works here, David Purvis, and he encouraged me to submit my resume. I feel very lucky to have this opportunity to work here, and I love the people I work with and the work I do.” However, coming on board at the firm happened during a very stressful time in Margie’s life. “I was finishing up my divorce around then,” she remembers. Having gone
A Car ing Mother and Passionate Paralegal
through this experience, she finds herself in a unique position to relate to those going through the same worries and stressors. “I’m a single mom, and when I was going through that process, I was worried about what was going to happen next and how I was going to make ends meet. I think understanding where many parents are coming from in that area helps, and I’m glad to be there for them to show them that while their life is going to change, they can get through it.” Margie works diligently with our clients, but out of the office, she pursues her other passions with her daughter. The two of them spend a lot of time together, staying active and exploring Savannah. “We run in a lot of 5Ks and take tours through the forts, squares, and plantations. Last Christmas, I gifted her life experiences, where we travel once a month to someplace we’ve never been before. It’s been a lot of fun, and she’s always super excited about what we’re going to do next.”
Following her heart and her passions are what Margie does best no matter where her life takes her.
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The Importance of Using 1 Fi rm and Rel iable Attorneys for Every Aspect of Your Case L itigation A ll O ver the P lace Dual proceedings are when there are multiple cases going on in different jurisdictions over the same or similar issues. This problem arises regularly in an international context when parents are litigating in different national courts. It can occur within the U.S. when there’s an action pending in two different states over custody of the same children or sometimes an action pending in state court while there is an action pending in federal court. What usually happens is an attorney takes on a particular case in a particular court and runs it their particular way. An attorney who looks at a set of facts will have a perception of those facts and the strategy that suggests itself from those facts before that court. This view can stem from how those facts are going to be presented, how they’re going to prevail, or what the immediate, local interests are in that case. Attorneys will embrace that perception and succumb to it. As is natural, most attorneys would assert that their perception is right. However, if there are two, three, or four cases going on in different places around the world, each with separate attorneys working only on their own case, the client will have two, three, or four different outcomes from strategies that are actually conflicting. When this happens and attorneys end up with different approaches and different outcomes to the same case, it impacts the client negatively every time. For example, say one attorney is pursuing an objective and wants their client to testify, so the client goes on record testifying in that particular way. But in a different jurisdiction in a similar case, a different attorney with a different mindset wants the client to testify differently about the same facts. Now, there are two contradictory statements with clashing themes and approaches, which will be used against the client in the opposite courtrooms. At The Manely Firm, we manage multiple proceedings taking place in different jurisdictions at the same time. If we didn’t, things would get quickly and wildly out of hand. It’s absolutely essential that your cases be coordinated, orchestrated, and managed from one central location with one central theme and one central strategy, which is a vital part of what we do in international litigation. You still have counsel in each place that a piece is pending, but you stop the problem of too many cooks in the kitchen.
“Courage is the most important of al l the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” –Maya Angelou
S pringtime C acio e P epe
Inspired by Eating Well
6 oz multigrain spaghetti
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
8 oz fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup baby arugula
1 tsp lemon zest
Heat oven to 425 F.
2. In a large pot, cook spaghetti until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of water before draining and put spaghetti in a covered pot to keep warm. 3. Line a 15x10-inch baking pan with foil and toss in asparagus and olive oil. 4. Cook asparagus for 5–7 minutes and sprinkle with lemon zest. 5. Add 3/4 cup of the reserved water, Parmesan cheese, and pepper to the spaghetti. Stir until creamy. 6. Toss in asparagus and arugula before serving. 3
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Facing Down Bias
What Is Gardening Good For? Fol lowing Her Heart Wherever She Goes
Li t igat ion Al l Over the Place
How to Avoid Al lergies This Spr ing
Spring has officially sprung. Grass is growing, flowers are blooming, and longer days are here again. And while the arrival of spring is a cause for celebration, for outdoor enthusiasts who suffer from seasonal allergies, the season is bittersweet. For many, this time of the year is characterized by stuffy noses, burning eyes, and sneezing. But according to WebMD, even severe allergy sufferers can enjoy the outdoors without worrying about allergies by taking the following precautions. Watch pollen counts. You can usually find information about local pollen levels on the internet or in your local newspaper. If pollen counts are through the roof, consider hitting the indoor gym instead of running outside. In general, pollen counts are highest on warm and breezy mornings and lowest when it is cool and rainy. Plan your outdoor pursuits accordingly. Change immediately after spending time outdoors. If you suffer from seasonal allergies but still love to exercise outdoors, build a habit of showering and changing immediately after coming back inside. While you were out crushing that 30-mile bike ride, pollen was slowly accumulating in your hair and on your clothes. And while 30 minutes of outdoor exercise will, according to WebMD, completely coat your nasal membrane with allergens, showering and laundering your clothing will limit your exposure while indoors. Medicate, medicate, medicate. Depending on the severity of your allergies, medication, not prevention, will likely provide the best relief available. Every person is different, so ask your doctor about the best medicine for you, and make sure you understand how you’re supposed to use it before dismissing its efficacy. Some allergy medicines can take as long as three weeks to reach their full effectiveness.
T ackle A llergies T his S pring Wi th These 3 Strategies
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