Misadventures in Self-Represented Family Law Litigation: A Judge (Unsurprisingly) Denies a Husband’s Request for Trial by Sword Fight

When people think about the services that their skilled Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney provides, the first thing probably involves the attorney standing before a judge (or filing legal documents) to make strong and persuasive arguments that get the client to a successful outcome versus their ex-spouse or partner. Certainly, that is a big part of what your family law attorney does… but it isn’t everything. Another service is something that takes place outside court. That service is giving you the knowledgeable and unbiased advice you need to hear in order to be best equipped to make sound decisions about your case.

Take, for example, a misguided ex-husband from Kansas. D.O. and his ex-wife were involved in family litigation in a court in Iowa. The couple contested many issues, according to 850 WFTL, including property distribution, parental responsibility, timesharing and property taxes.

D.O., frustrated by the court filings submitted by his ex-wife’s lawyer, hatched a plan. He made a motion requesting permission “to settle his differences with his ex-wife by having a sword fight,” according to the report. Yes, that’s right… a sword fight… complete with authentic samurai swords imported from Japan. The husband’s motion for trial by combat stated his goal as hoping to “rend [the] souls” of his ex-wife and her lawyer “from their bodies.”

The husband included legal argument of a sort, asserting that resolving disputes with “a sword fight ‘has never been explicitly banned or restricted as a right in these United States.’” His motion also noted that a British court had ordered trial by combat as recently as 1818 and that a New York court pointed out in 2016 that duels had never explicitly been abolished by law. The husband confessed to the Des Moines Register that his motion was filed to make a point. “I think I’ve met [the ex-wife’s attorney’s] absurdity with absurdity.”

Better option for making your point (that the judge may actually take seriously)

Here’s the problem, though. This motion, whether it was literal or just a satirical criticism of filings made by the ex-wife’s attorney, has no chance of benefiting the husband’s actual case. The motion has 0% chance of being granted. Additionally, bizarre and extreme motions like this, even if filed just to make a point, will only hurt your credibility with the judge. If you file too many that the judge finds to be blatantly non-meritorious, the judge possibly can brand you a “vexatious litigant” and restrict your ability to file future motions. This can only hurt you when you later want to file a “serious” motion later.

A skilled attorney could advise his client that there are better ways to make the client’s point that have a greater chance of success and a lesser chance of harming the overall case. If the other side genuinely is being absurd, you can file a motion where you seek sanctions from the court for your spouse’s filing of a “frivolous” motion. If the judge finds that your spouse’s attorney has filed a motion that was frivolous, then they can be ordered to pay a monetary penalty. You may also recover a portion of your legal fees.

Sometimes, the best advice you may get from your experienced family law attorney is the advice that turns you in a different direction in pursuing your case… even if you really wanted to pursue that initial direction. Your skillful and thoughtful attorney can help you be confident that the case you present to the judge is always the strongest one possible… even if it doesn’t involve any samurai swords.

For that kind of reliable advice and sword-free litigation strategies, count on the skilled divorce attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. Our experienced attorneys know what tactics and techniques are likely to win favor with the courts, and are here to help you get to a successful result. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.