Month: February 2010

Family law cases have as their hallmark complete financial disclosure. If litigants have enough information, they can settle their disputes.

That principle usually operates in sync with some other fundamental principles, including:

  • Proceedings should be brought on notice;
  • Decisions should be based on evidence.

Simple enough? Apparently not.

In the case of Stuyt v. Stuyt, a wife obtained a court order striking the husband’s Answer (his defense) because she alleged that he defaulted in providing financial disclosure. The problem was that she obtained the order without notice to the husband, without disclosing all the facts to the motions judge, and without filing any evidence (such as a sworn affidavit) to support the relief. Clearly, the motions judge should not have made the order, but it took two years of wasted resources and wasted time (including an undefended trial) before the Court of Appeal corrected the error and sent everything back to the trial judge.

To what extent excessive and aggressive lawyering contributed to the two year court odyssey is unknown. At the end of the two years, the parties’ were no closer to a resolution.

Family law cases, like other disputes, are often shaped because of one party’s missteps and mistakes. One wonders to what extent the wife will wish to continue with her claims, or to what extent she will discount them in order to bring the Stuyt matter to a conclusion.


28 year old California lawyer Wajahat Ali, fought an epic battle for a home loan modification against Wells Fargo and won…Eventually.

His story is a well-written and terrifying look into the financial crisis, the state of America’s megabanks, and how homeowners in need seemingly stand no chance against the towering indifference, incompetence and confusion of those megabanks.

It is also a piece about how the passion and tenacity of a young lawyer (or any lawyer) can make all the difference in the lives of his or her clients — to empower the powerless and not the powerful.

For lawyers, Ali’s epic struggle to save his client’s home is an inspiration.