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Eating Pie

During the past few days, as I enter my home each evening, I am met with “stuff” strewn everywhere: towels, pillow, sheets, shorts, shirts, and shoes… lots and lots of shoes. Yes, my baby is packing up, and heading off to the University of Florida to officially begin her college career next week and join the Gator Nation.

So, as I reflect back over these past 18 years, I know that she accomplished quite a bit, but inside I feel that I have done so as well. I have fulfilled one of my personal obligations by ensuring that on the financial side of matters my daughter would have no worries. Are you asking yet how this relates to family law? Well, here it comes.

When I first opened the Law Offices of Cindy S. Vova, P.A. this daughter was not yet born. Her older sister was still an “only child.” My future Gator came along about two years after the firm took on its first client. As I met with each new client, many with young children themselves, and I explained that there really was no “winning” or “loosing” in divorce, and I wanted to help them achieve a reasonable and fair outcome, I demonstrated this as follows:

“Here,” I’d say, “is the marital pie.” At this point I drew my rendition of a circle on my yellow legal pad, where my client understood why I pursued law and not art. Then I would continue: “Now, if I draw a line down the middle of the pie, this represents basically, what the Court is going to give you and what the Court is going to give your spouse. Of course, again, I doubt my line represented a geometric division, which also explains why I did not delve into a field requiring mathematical ability.

Then I would proceed to use my pencil to “cut off” little slices of the pie on each side, and explain that this is what the attorneys would “eat” from each party’s half of the pie. I explained that in order to ensure that a client received a fair deal and all issues were addressed in a divorce proceeding, that an attorney’s input and knowledge was invaluable. “However,” I continued, “the more your spouse and you fight, the more pieces of the pie the attorneys get to eat.

“So,” I would continue, “do you want to send your children to college or mine? My children are going regardless, but I intend to get them there by taking little pieces of pie and putting them all together to make my kids’ pie.”

My pie point was made. Some clients heeded my advice, and we resolved their cases where most of their piece of pie remained intact. Others ignored the advice and had their pies carved up into smaller pieces. Some clients had spouses, who had lawyers who wanted more of the pie, an unfortunate byproduct of this profession. Still, all-in-all, when Dominique DeSantiago, Associate Director of the Fisher School of Accounting, responded to an email I sent him and said that UF would provide “value for my investment,” I couldn’t help but think that my philosophy in practicing family law provides “values “for my clients’ investments.

Twenty plus years of helping clients through tough times and trying to take only small pieces of the pies has now enabled me to fulfill my parental obligation by sending my second child off to college. I hope that she also learned by example a few important lessons about values and doing the right thing that cannot be taught in the classroom. Those are vestiges of my daughter that will remain long after her shoes, short and sheets leave my living room.

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