Judge Judy Sheindlin answers your questions about problems that trouble you most.
TIME TO ID FATHER? Should a grown man of 32 be told the truth about the identity of his true biological father even though his mother is still closely guarding this secret after all these years? — Robert, Naples
Your question tested the foundation of my views on fairness and parental responsibility.
Let us talk about the practical scientific benefits of knowing both biological parents — their medical histories and potential extended family are all important in today’s age of scientific miracles.
Let us talk about a 32-year-old man who would like to know his roots and put to rest his unanswered questions. The truth is very powerful, and the unknown is always an obstacle.
Your mother has the right to keep her secrets. These are her private places. However, having a child had the effect of including another person in her private world. She brought you into her secret. In these circumstances, the child is always the one to be protected. In my view, your right to your history trumps your mother’s right to privacy.
CHASING AFTER ALIMONY I have been to court for back alimony pay (no lawyer). I won. And guess what? Still no alimony. The system says I can put him in jail. So what? He is self-employed and has outsmarted the legal system. Is there anything more I can do? — Laura, Fort Myers
I assume from your question that we are talking about alimony and not the support of minor children.
While your pursuit of past alimony from a longtime ex-husband may be a legal and just cause, for a court system overburdened with child neglect custody, visitation, domestic violence and abuse, ex-spousal support is rarely a priority. This is just a reality!
I have usually advised women (and sometimes men) to accept a smaller amount of lump-sum alimony than rely on fond memories of a now defunct marriage to ensure the checks keep coming. That being said, if you are in a financial position to make the pursuit of alimony a hobby rather than a full-time job, you’re probably better off. Your life will be far less frustrating.
On a practical note, make certain that the judgment you have against him is filed. You never know. He may get hit by a bus.
LANDLORD-TENANT BOUNDARIES I’m troubled by my tenant who seems to feel that I am more of a babysitter than a landlord. I’m pretty easygoing, but my better half says I’m too easy on our problem tenant. Do you think that being nice to people under these circumstances is naïve? — Omar, Fort Myers
My answer comes from the “I-don’t-always-practice-what-I-preach” chapter. The world would be a better place if all people were willing to extend themselves for others, whether they are family, friends, coworkers, employees and even tenants.
That being said, I think even good natured people must set boundaries. If they do not, they cause confusion in the mind of the recipient. Eventually they will be “the bad guy” when they try to change the rules.
Set parameters from the beginning. Say, for instance, “I enjoy helping with babysitting, if you have an emergency, but please do not rely on me regularly as I have my own schedule.” If she doesn’t get it, she’s no friend.