“I can’t abide a bully,” Elizabeth Meneray said firmly.
Her work in family law is rarely uplifting — it often involves custody battles, divorce, alimony, property division and other related issues. But it is important and necessary.
Her toughest case involved a bitter custody battle over a young girl whose mother (Meneray’s client) lived out of state while working a low-paying job.
One afternoon Meneray received a frantic phone call from the airport as her client was “crying her heart out.” The child’s father had refused to drop her off at the scheduled time at the airport, and sent the mother a series of cruel text messages: “Good luck finding her” and “Have fun in New Orleans. She’s not going with you.”
A mother herself, Meneray was sickened by this clear violation of a court order. “She only had about an hour layover and then had to take the return flight home, without the long-awaited mother-daughter visit both of them had anticipated in months.”
The man knew that Meneray’s client lacked funds, and “it was all she could do to afford the ticket to bring her daughter home with her for the visit.” The child was entitled to the time with her mother, and he had deprived her of it.
In a draining battle, the man was ultimately found in contempt of court and owed Meneray a large amount of attorney’s fees. His anger toward the child’s mother was then turned to Meneray herself.
“I have received threatening mail and been stalked on social media by this man. But what really upset me was not the cowardly manner in which he behaved, but how his lawyer reacted when I told him what he had done.”
The man’s attorney tried to shift the blame to her, telling her, “You shouldn’t have pursued that judgment against him. You made him mad; what do you expect?”
The issue rendered Meneray even more determined to find a way to prevail in similar circumstances.
“When there is an imbalance of power in a relationship, the law is there to ensure a fair result,” she said. “As long as I am committed to using the power of the law for the purpose of equity and fairness … I have no fear that my clients will see their legal rights protected.”