Arguably one of the most popular television shows in recent years, Modern Family allows viewers a glimpse into the family life of fictional characters, but these families are hardly “traditional.” The show centers around 3 very different families: one is a same sex couple who has adopted, another is an older man married to an immigrant with a young child, and the third centers around a family with a father who struggles with maintaining his head-of-the-family role while still not quite having “grown up” himself. Sitcoms in the past, like Full House, Family Matters, The Cosby Show, The Brady Bunch, and even Leave it to Beaver from the 50’s, were centered on strong family values, and allowed the viewer some laughs too. However, Modern Family, while still demonstrating some family values, is more focused on the emotions that a family experiences. The characters of the show have their “out of character” moments when they speak directly into the camera and let their emotions and thoughts out.
From a family law attorney’s perspective, this “pure emotion” is reminiscent of meetings with clients, where emotions come to the surface and the attorney is let into that person’s family life, even if only for a brief glimpse. Family law is a unique practice of law, where often an attorney is more immersed in a client’s personal life in a family case than any other type of law.
An attorney in family law practice must understand that divorce, a child custody case, or an adoption is a very emotional process for all involved. Family attorneys have to counsel their clients on taking a particular course of action, like all lawyers, but in family law, an attorney must take into account the best interests of the child or children, the interests of the client, and what is best for the client AND their family. This is no small task, and involves a lot more “counseling” and “life coach” skills than most law practices.
In family law, attorneys often see their clients at the most difficult times of their lives, like the characters on Modern Family when speaking directly into the camera, who are displaying nothing but “pure emotion.” But it is our job to counsel these clients using our expertise and unique backgrounds, as well as experience in handling similar family law cases in the past, even though no two families are exactly the same.
While the families on Modern Family may seem “different” to many American viewers, to a family law attorney, these families represent the clients we see on a daily basis.