"The man as he converses is the lover; silent, he is the husband." ~ Honore de Balzac

Friday

Stop Fighting Over The Kids


The Right Lawyer
Can Make All The Difference

There is life after divorce and as bad as all of that can be for the children of separation and divorce there is a lot that can be done to move forward even when you and the other parent don't get along. Like many recently separated and divorced people with small children, I had some significant adjustments to make and was often reminded of how much different a parent-child bond is when compared to other interpersonal relationships; kids come first. Probably the best thing I ever did for my then young son was to marry his wonderful stepmom, Deb Cromer. As Nick pointed out, her name is B E D spelled backwards. Kids say the darnedest things don't they?
During many darker times I thought Deb was my guardian angel. Having been acquaintances and then friends for a few years first, Deb and I have been together and married for a long time now. Nick is an awesome young man and is doing well at Towson University; life is good. While never clouding her role and importance in Nick's life, I have never seen anyone show a stepson as much love. Indeed, step parenting following an ugly custody battle has its own unique and often painful challenges. I learned a lot from watching how those situations can best be handled while keeping a child's best interests of paramount concern. Amongst her many attributes, Deb, a/k/a our Administrative Goddess, is also the office manager at the Mastracci Law Office.
Now that I've told you more than you need to know, let me tell you why I choose to share such personal information.
When I was in law school, one of my teachers was an Associate Judge of the Circuit Court of Baltimore County. During Constitutional Criminal Law class, His Honor taught us that one of the most important things you can do for your client is to "know your judge." He added that he was not talking about personally knowing the judge as a friend (which generally doesn't hurt), but knowing the particular background of a judge so that one could have a reasonable degree of certainty as to how a particular judge would likely rule or otherwise view the particulars of any given case. Similarly, I believe that you, the client, should know your lawyer. All of us bring our personal experiences into our professional life. It is a part of our human nature and ultimately inevitable.
Another life-long lesson I learned from an adjunct professor, also a practicing attorney, was that "the practice of law has very little to do with the truth and everything to do with the perception of truth." Take a moment and think back on some of the more publicized criminal trials, political campaigns and scandals in recent years and you'll know what I mean.
There is another more common saying that is often true. "It's not necessarily what you know but who you know." Again, this is the reality.
Similarly, while my office concentrates in the areas of personal injury, auto accidents, workers' compensation, criminal defense, serious traffic violations, drunk driving cases, criminal trials, and family law matters, there are many other areas of law where I can be of service to my clients by simply making an appropriate referral.
I do not profess to know everything or to be "an expert" in each and every area of law. I believe in specialization and hiring the right person for the task at hand.
When looking for a qualified person to handle a specific legal matter or related service, an attorney is a good place to start. I often make referrals to competent alcohol and substance abuse counselors, child custody evaluators, accountants, realtors and the like.

Please contact me if you would like information on our comprehensive referral network to suit your individual and family needs.

During college and law school, I clerked at my father's law office in southwest Baltimore City. I grew up around the law. My father, A. Gus Mastracci, was an Assistant City Solicitor in the Baltimore City Law Department from 1968 to 1989. He was assigned to the Litigation Section, responsible for defending the City of Baltimore in jury and court trials for actions against Baltimore City.
In addition, my father, widely regarded as a "heavy hitter" among judges and attorneys, maintained a successful private practice and was the family lawyer for generations of residents in southwest Baltimore City and beyond, primarily concentrating in the areas of personal injury, auto accidents, workers' compensation and negligence actions.
Upon being admitted to the Maryland Bar, I joined my father's firm as an attorney and for many years, worked primarily in the area of personal injury and negligence cases, including auto accidents and workers' compensation claims. Additionally, I developed a criminal defense practice for our firm. Although we moved our office to Baltimore County in 1995, we were delighted that the majority of our long-time clients followed us and have continued to utilize our services, referring family members and friends throughout the years.
After a very short and less than harmonious marriage, I became the first branch on the Mastracci family tree to become separated and divorced. My "main man," Nicholas, was born in the spring of 1993, and had not yet reached the age of two before his mom and I separated and began one of the most acrimonious custody battles to wreak havoc on the Baltimore County Circuit Court. I only mention this because it was that experience that led to my interest in the area of family law matters and lead me to write my first book: Stop Fighting Over the Kids: Resolving Day-to-Day Custody Conflict in Divorce Situations.

ABOUT MIKE ~

Admitted: 1989, Maryland State BarLaw School: University of Baltimore, J.D., 1989College: University of Maryland, B.S., 1986
  • 2014 - Appointed to the Baltimore County Bar Association's Bench - Bar Committee
  • 2013-2014 Appointed to The Maryland Court Process Committee of the Commission on Child Custody Decision Making.
  • Maryland Trial Lawyers Association, Maryland Association for Justice, Maryland Criminal Defense Association
  • Maryland Collaborative Law Association, Inc., International Association of Collaborative Professionals, Maryland Collaborative Practice Council, Howard County Collaborative Professionals, Inc., Baltimore Collaborative Divorce Professionals
  • Biography: Founder and President, The Child Access Center, 1998-1999
  • 2010 President of the Maryland Collaborative Law Association
  • Author of Award Winning and Highly Acclaimed Book: Stop Fighting Over the Kids: Resolving Day-to-Day Custody Conflict in Divorce Situations
  • ISLN: 914224981
Born: Baltimore, Maryland, 1964
  • The Collaborative Institute 2014: Finding Money Harmony in Collaborative Divorce; (June 6, 2014) 
  • Presented by Olivia Mellan, as seen on Oprah, The Today Show and 20/20 - Moneyharmony.com

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"So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home." (Tecumseh).

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