Robert W. Good, Scott C. Bucy, Allen G. Drescher (Ret.), Cheri L. Elson (Ret.) - Attorneys at Law
SERVING ASHLAND AND SOUTHERN OREGON SINCE 1973
823 Siskiyou Blvd ● Ashland ● Oregon ● 97520
541.482.3763
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Blog

The One and Only

The glass says you are this and we are that and that is how it will always be.”
– Ivan the Mighty Silverback

If you ever listen to JPR, you know that “the Law Office of Robert Good” is a collective listener. JPR programs keep us company throughout the day. But recently the news delivered is especially hard to hear. Violence. Rage. Isolation. I attempt to write an upbeat LocalsGuide article and the words that should whimsically promote my business don’t flow.

My mind wanders to The One and Only Ivan, a children’s book based on the true story of a silverback gorilla who lived alone in a concrete cage in a Tacoma, Washington mall for 27 years before an animal welfare group organized for his transfer to a zoo in Atlanta.

My life is flashing lights and pointing fingers and uninvited visitors.  Inches away, humans flatten their little hands against the wall of glass that separates us.  The glass says you are this and we are that and that is how it will always be… I press my nose against the glass.  My nose print, like your fingerprint, is the first and last and the only one. The man wipes the glass and I am gone.

Like Ivan, we can be surrounded by people and still feel totally alone. When we find ourselves isolated because of our differences, our assumptions, or our own sensitivities, it’s easy to feel like Ivan, disconnected amidst a tide of pointing fingers. Disconnected, it’s easy to fixate on others’ transgressions.

I see Ivan’s struggle in my clients’ stories. Estranged families, damaged businesses relationships, people broken by grief. Especially on the faces of divorcing couples, I see Ivan’s isolation and despair. Disconnected from each other, sensing the losses larger than the life they built together, they point fingers. The subtle violence that begins to brew at this juncture fans the flames of litigation.

In many cases litigation is truly necessary. But when isolation and despair is the catalyst, litigation typically won’t solve the underlying problems. I encourage clients to explore mediation as a peaceful alternative, especially where children are involved. The lower the conflict, the more benefits the child receives from contact with the non-custodial parent, the more regularly child support is paid, and the higher the likelihood of establishing an amicable co-parenting plan. Mediation allows couples to stay present with the losses they feel while rebuilding the lives they will lead independent from each other.  

My hope for all of my clients is that like Ivan, they too are released from their isolation, and that even in the midst of their difficult life transitions, they can be present, connected, and maybe even peaceful.

Robert (Bob) Good has practiced law in Jackson County for 23 years, specializing in family law, estate planning and administration and business law. Contact him at his Ashland office at (541) 482-3763.

Father’s Day in Retrospect

“The boy, by the age of three years, senses that his destiny is to be a man, so he watches his father particularly—his interests, manner, speech, pleasures, his attitude toward work…” Benjamin Spock (1992)

The barbecues, beer, and suggestively titled bottles of seasonings lining the Father’s Day seasonal aisle this year got me thinking about fathers, stereotypes and the dramatic shift in the role society expects fathers to play in their children’s lives.

In earlier American days – circa 1900 through the post-World War II era –working families would have been accustomed to harsh conditions, and were largely devoid of emotional coddling. While women were the caretakers, men were the providers, ensconced in a hyper-masculine, physically tough, emotionally detached, yet resilient image. Men were to govern the family, command respect, and raise virtuous, industrious children.

In those days, Oscar Wilde’s view of fathers was all too common: “The American father… passes his life entirely on Wall Street and communicates with his family once a month by means of a telegram in cipher.”

Fast-forward, 1946. That was the year Dr. Benjamin Spock published his manual on infant and child care, Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. Dr. Spock, the non-conformist, countered the authoritarian philosophy of parenting. Using his understanding of psychoanalysis, Spock encouraged parents to acknowledge children’s feelings, respond to tears, cater to their preferences, and conjure some empathy… Mothers –and fathers – were to be affectionate and loving with their children, and treat the as individuals rather than just economic assets.

What?

Fast-forward again, 2016. Parenting books flood the aisles of bookstores and parenting blogs permeate the internet, and Spock is only known to younger generations as the guy who flew the starship Enterprise. “Attachment parenting” and “helicopter parent” are the parenting terms du jour. Gender roles are very much blurred. Mothers and fathers are both caretakers and breadwinners. Sometimes there are two mothers, sometimes two fathers, often times there is only one parent in the picture. Whatever the family dynamic, modern American society recognizes the importance of great emotional attachment between parent and child.

In this new parenting culture, today’s typical father doesn’t rule with an iron fist, supporting the family afar, from his office cubicle, farm or factory. Instead, father is emotionally attached to his children, and intimately involved in their daily lives.

In my over 20 years of practicing family law, it has been gratifying to see expansion of the many gender roles that support the children in our diverse community of families. Courts encourage joint custody, and presume that the father’s presence in his child’s life is a critical part of childhood wellbeing.

Robert (Bob) Good has practiced law in Jackson County for over 23 years, specializing in family law, estate planning and administration and business law. Contact him at his Ashland office at (541) 482-3763.

Access to Justice in Jackson County

In May I attended the Center for NonProfit Legal Services’s annual “Founders Breakfast.” At the breakfast, lawyer William P. Haberlach was awarded the William V. Deatherage Pro Bono Award for his services providing legal advocacy for one of the highest at-risk populations in our community: our veterans.

I attend this breakfast not just for the coffee and eggs, but because it renews my inspiration in our local bar and our shared commitment to community service. For the last three years, the Jackson County Bar Association has been the winner of the Justice Cup, which the Lawyers’ Campaign for Equal Justice awards to the county bar association that raises the most money for legal aid services in Oregon. In 2015 over 42% of local lawyers made contributions for a combined total of $28,000.

Access to justice is a real issue in Oregon. The Lawyers’ Campaign for Equal Justice’s website explains why:

There are 850,000 low-income and elderly Oregonians eligible for legal aid services. The need has increased under pressure from a weak economy; since 2000, poverty in Oregon has risen by 61%. With help from supporters like you, Oregon legal aid programs will serve about 20,000 families and individuals this year.

The Lawyers’ Campaign for Equal Justice helps fund legal aid services for low-income and elderly Oregonians. In Medford, the Center for NonProfit Legal Services provides family law, landlord-tenant, social security, immigration and other legal services for qualifying county residents.

Legal aid goes a long way toward providing access to justice, but there are many locals who earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but too little to easily afford a lawyer. For people in that boat, the Oregon State Bar offers a couple of programs. One is the Lawyer Referral Service, which matches people with lawyers who offer a 30-minute consultation for $35, no matter your income level. Another is the Modest Means Program, which offers the same “30 for $35” deal but also caps hourly rates based on income.

For years I have also offered a reduced-rate initial consultation. Clients with divorce, custody or parenting time issues can receive an hour of legal advice for $100. Sometimes this is all a client needs to navigate the legal system. I also offer legal “coaching,” which can be a cost-effective way to handle a legal issue. You represent yourself in court with me coaching you through your case.

While there’s no shortage of lawyer jokes and stereotypes out there, here in Jackson County our lawyers truly are committed to service in our community.

Robert (Bob) Good has practiced law in Jackson County for 23 years, specializing in family law, estate planning and administration and business law. Contact him at his Ashland office at (541) 482-3763.