Gusty A.E. Sunseri & Associates, P.C. Attorneys at Law

Divorce - Applying Lessons from the Godfather Movie - "Don't Let Them Know What Your Thinking"

Let's face it, sometimes divorces seem like scenes from Mario Puzo's epic- "The Godfather". Yes, maybe there is no bloodshed-like Sonny being riddled with bullets-or Clemenza choking Paulie to death from the back seat of the car-"don't forget the canollis". But, it seems, at time, the hate between the warring Mafia families and the warring spouses is just as intense. Say what you will about the "Godfather" movie-whether you like it or not-there is much to be learned on how to handle yourself when the families are warring.

One of the more poignant lines was made by Don Corleone to his son, Sonny, after their meeting with Sollozzo, a representative of the competing Tattaglia family, in which a potential business relationship involving drugs and Corleone financing was discussed. In the meeting, Solozzo suggested to the Don that the real money was in hard drugs and that the Tattaglias needed financing and the Don's "politicians that {he} carried around in his pocket". Sollozzo made the bold statement that the Tattaglias would "guarantee" the Corleone investment. Before the Don could answer with an absolute "no" because of the negative affect such business would have on his political connections and police informants, his famous hot-headed son Sonny interjected by saying- "Whoa, now, you're telling me that the Tattaglias will guarantee it". The Don immediately interrupted Sonny and apologized to Solozzo for his son's show of disrespect in speaking before the Don gave him the permission-but, as the savvy Don knew, the harm was already done. When the meeting concluded and Solozzo had left, the Don went over to his son and smacked him in the head saying, "Don't ever let anyone outside the family know what you're thinking."

I have found the Don's statement to be most helpful in the practice of family law in Pennsylvania, for many reasons. First, the divorce processes in family court-such as, child support, APL, equitable distribution and child custody-are wrought with negotiations. Opposing attorneys are a savvy bunch with the inherent inclination to wring out every penny for their client or from your client. Accordingly, it's only logical that you do not want the other side to know what you're thinking because then there is always the potential of them using it against you. In the "Godfather", the Tattaglia family took Sonny's statement as a sign that he would be willing to do the deal his Father adamantly refused. The result-the Tattaglias "put a hit" on the Don hoping that with him gone, Sonny would join partner with them. Luckily, the Don survived, but the lesson was embedded in my mind. So, confide in your attorney and be very careful of others that you choose to confide in. It's all part of the process

By the way, I think you will agree, Clemenza didn't look like he forgot many canollis.

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