Sunday, April 13, 2014

Property Law: Sibling Style

Armed and Dangerous!  Connor and neighbor Stephen get creative!

When I was in law school, I took this little class called Property Law.  Basically, it explored the "finders, keepers" theory and questioned the truth to "this land is your land."  I found the whole class is to be about as riveting as drying paint.  I gleaned one very important thing from the class: A career in property law was not in my future.

Fast forward a decade (plus).  

My law degree sits on a wall collecting dust.  I traded in my brief case for a pair of yoga pants, dish towels, and laundry detergent (the staples in a stay-at-home mom's arsenal)!  The closest I come to practicing law is to watch a good episode of "Law and Order."  Many of the fancy legal terms and twenty-syllabel words I learned in law school have slipped my mind.  My legal days have fallen into the "remember when" category.  (And yes, I barely remember!)

But lately, I've reflected back on that Property Law class.

It's because most of the boys' arguments center around tangible personal property (a.k.a. stuff).  They can have a knock-down, drag-out fight over a plastic doodad or a random stick in the yard.  It's enough to make one mom cry "uncle!" 

They beg me to arbitrate their conflicts.  They want me to determine: 

1) Who has possession of the item?, 

2) Does the owner have a superior right to the property?, 


3) If so, what are the damages?  

(Ugh...I'm having ugly flashbacks to the Bar Exam.)  

I scratch my head and think WWSD ("What Would Solomon Do?") or WWJJD ("What Would Judge Judy Do?").

Today I hit my limit after an argument over a singular (ONE!) library book turned ugly.  One boy confiscated the library book from another boy's room.  Both boys, red-faced and fired-up, aired their grievances.

Book Thief's argument (cue the hysterics):  It's a library book.  He doesn't own it.  He wasn't reading it.

Offended Brother's argument (cue the fury):  It was "my" book in my room.

Doesn't that sounds like the makings of a good bar exam question?

It was my breaking point. I collected all four boys and had them sit in a circle.  We tossed out our ideas about stuff: possession, rights, and damages.  They listened and offered up ideas and thoughts (some better than others).  We formulated a new set of property guidelines for the home and vehicles.

I'm hoping this does the trick.  If not, they may have to appeal their decisions to a higher level: Dad!

1 comment:

  1. ne boy confiscated the library book from another boy's room. Both boys, red-faced and fired-up, aired their grievances. Sale agreement