—Debbie – Baltimore, MD
I hired Mike back in 2013 to handle my divorce, after my therapist recommended him as a lawyer that would, put my son first. I wanted to ensure that the process was painless and not scary for my son, as much as humanly possible. Mike came highly recommended as the lawyer that really focused on the children’s needs and best interest.
So, we went through the process, as hard as my ex-husband made it, Mike showed me that being patient, compassionate and realistic were tools that allowed me to put my feelings aside and focus on what the real goal was, my son’s happiness. It is a rarity to find someone that is so authentic, genuine and supportive in this industry. His book “Stop Fighting Over the Kids”, helped me manage my issues and frustrations much more easily. Where it felt like I was caving, Mike would remind me of the big picture.
To date, my son is happy and healthy, he still struggles with issues with his father, but they are his issues and not the drama of his parent’s divorce. I appreciate all of the hours, feedback, brainstorming, listening, being so flexible and understanding of my situation. He gave me a fresh start and now I am happily re-married and we just had another little boy.
I hired Mike Mastracci as my lawyer back in 2013. At the time my fiancé and the mother of my three children got into an argument which would end up where we were both fighting for custody of the children. My fiancée came from parents of divorce and had suffered a life where her parents had a bitter divorce and were involved in court cases after court cases regarding custody of her. So when things happened with us, her parents were fast to think and steer her in the same direction that they had gone in. It was terrible, but what was I to do but fight it? Mike stood by my side every time I needed him. The price was much more reasonable than most lawyers and the advice I was given always had my children’s best interest at heart. (My then fiancé spent over twice as much money for legal fees and counseling as I did. She was charged for a one minute phone call at 15 minutes and the same with emails.) Most lawyers just want to fight, Mike is different. And I can say this from first hand experience. Ultimately my then fiancée and I decided to get back together and believe it or not Mike was 100% for this. He stood to not gain nearly as much money as he would have had he convinced me to keep the court thing going. However he knew that what was best for my children and me was to stay together. We got back together and months later got married and now it’s been 5 1/2 years! We are very happy and now we have 5 children ages 2, 3, 9, 10, and 12. My wife looks out for me and has even retired me. I really owe my marriage to Mike for helping me to save it.
Now I realize most custody battles won’t end the way mine did and that I am lucky, but had it not been for Mike I’m sure another lawyer would have tried to convince me any way possible to just keep heading down the path I was taking with the legal system. A few years ago Mike Mastracci had a class about stopping the fighting that my wife and I attended just to give Mike some feedback about and really my wife and I think it should be required because it gave parents a new look on coparenting and why the fighting over kids was not beneficial to anyone long term.
—M. Maisey, M. Ed. Howard County, MD
Mike Mastracci’s matter-of-fact yet compassionate approach was reassuring during a frightening time. His calm and steady demeanor while interacting with both me and my kids, as well as the other party and their attorneys, prevented further escalation of many already heated scenarios. He walked me through each step of the process with patience and clarity, answered all of my (MANY) questions, and showed (and years later, continues to show) genuine interest in the success and well being of our family. Mike’s calm and steady demeanor combined with his distaste for litigious happy attorneys are two of the many reasons I trusted Mike then, and still do today.
—Lou M., Glen Burnie, MD
I first met Mike in 1982 back in High School through a mutual friend. Years later Mike pursued the “right path” as I unfortunately pursued the “wrong path” and I began my “drinking career”.
The next time I talked to Mike was in 1989 when I got my first DWI. I knew of Mike’s father Gus and his reputation as a very successful lawyer and like his father, Mike decided to pursue a career in law and become a lawyer himself. Thank God he did because he has done things for me in court that I didn’t dream were possible. Mike is an awesome lawyer in every sense.
Mike has represented me in seven DWI cases, two 2nd degree assault cases and 2 cases of violating a protective order. I know my past is nothing to be proud of but, with Mike’s help, I have finally straightened my life out. The last two cases involved a 2nd degree assault charge and violating a protective order. On top of that, these two NEW charges violated my probation for a prior 2nd degree assault charge.
As soon as my probation agent found out about the arrest for the 2nd degree assault, she violated me and the Judge issued a warrant for my arrest. Not only a warrant but, a “no bail” warrant which meant that I would be sitting in jail until I went to court (3 to 4 months). I immediately called Mike and he filed a motion to “quash” the warrant which means he was going to try to get the Judge to rescind it. What happened? The Judge “quashed” the warrant and I was able to stay on the street until my court date. At least, that’s what I thought.
Right from the start Mike was going to try and have the 2nd degree assault charge dismissed or put on a STET doc and he felt very confident in this because the alleged victim (my girlfriend) was going to testify on my behalf. When we went to court, the State’s Attorney refused to do this because of my past record. Mike had the case postponed in part in the hopes that we could get a more reasonable State’s Attorney the next time in court.
Everything had been going as planned until I went on a drinking binge, started fighting with my girlfriend and things got so bad that she filed a protection order against me. Well if that wasn’t enough, I just couldn’t stay away, went back to her place, and got arrested again. When I called Mike from jail he told me that this was the worst possible thing that could of happened. How is a Judge to believe that the assault was an accident when now my girlfriend had filed a protective order and I in turn violated it?
Well, I have to say that Mike is a true miracle worker. In the two new cases, Mike worked out a deal with the State’s Attorney. When we went to court I plead guilty to the violation of the protection order and the 2nd degree assault was put on a STET doc. Mike’s strategy was, if I plead guilty to the violation of protection order, it would get the Judge’s focus off of the assault charge and, it worked. It worked out perfectly because the violation only held 90 days where the assault charge held a penalty of 10 years. I did do 75 days in jail for pleading guilty but it didn’t matter because I was stuck in there anyway because my bail was now $75,000. By the time we went to court I had already done 67 days so I only had 8 days left. I wanted to be released that day but Mike said that instead of asking for “time served” and being released that day, it would be in my best interest to stay the additional 8 days and we could use this as leverage in my violation of probation case. So I did the 8 days and was released and at the VOP Mike stressed how I had served the maximum sentence (on the lesser charge) which was punishment enough.
In my violation of probation case I was facing 27 months and to be quite frank, I was terrified. I was terrified because 3 years ago this particular judge had told me that if I ever came before him again for any reason, I was getting every bit of my “back up” time. Meaning, the entire 27 months and, that meant prison. Not just a short stay at the detention center but, PRISON. Well, Mike’s strategy worked again. By the way that Mike presented my case and using the leverage of the guilty plea and presenting to the Judge that I had already done jail time for this offense, the Judge only gave me another year of probation. I have all the faith in the world in Mike and trust him with my life but, I was shocked. Remember, this Judge had told me that if he ever saw me again that I was going to PRISON. And not only did I violate my probation but, I violated it with the same charge that I was on probation for. Mike was a wizard in the courtroom and along with his professionalism, ability to communicate in the way he can, and the way he can think on his feet, I was a free man. In our circle of friends, we actually call Mike the “WORDSMITH” because he is so articulate and can adapt to whatever he is facing in the courtroom so quickly.
Because of Mike I was able to move on with my life. I was able to reunite with my girlfriend who is now my fiancé . If I had gone to prison I don’t know if she and I would have ever gotten back together because we needed the time together to heal and work things out. Because of Mike, we were able to do that and we will always be grateful to him. Because of Mike I am sober today and I am also working on my anger issues through counseling.
I am proud to call Mike Mastracci my attorney for life but more than that, I am proud to call him my friend.
—Erica Vincent, Sykesville, MD
May 30, 2014
I first met Michael Mastracci in the fall of 2012 when he became a client of the web design and marketing firm I worked for at the time. I was responsible for rebranding Mike’s social media profiles to match the law firm’s redesigned website. Working on Mr. Mastracci’s account gave me the chance to learn more about him on both a personal and a professional level. There is a lot of content on www.MikeTheLawyer.com, including legal advice and biographical information about Mike, and I was extremely impressed with his honesty and use of his personal experiences to help others. I knew that if I ever needed a lawyer, I’d be calling Mike Mastracci.
Over the past two years, Mr. Mastracci has represented two of my closest friends. One hired him to represent her on two separate occasions for DUI cases. She never had to serve any jail time, and she was able to get her license back in less than a year. The other I referred to Mike for his child custody case. He was going for modification of his court order for child support and visitation. After the hearing, his words to me were, “Mike got me way more time with my son than I expected. I get to see my son every other week and on holidays. Before the trial, I was lucky to see my boy once a month.”
In March of this year, my boyfriend was arrested on a warrant for violation of probation. He had been convicted of four new charges during his probation period; 3 counts of driving on a revoked license and 1 speeding ticket. He was facing a suspended jail sentence of 18 months from a felony charge he received several years ago, so I knew it was time to call Mike for help. From the initial consultation to the date of my boyfriend’s trial, a period of 78 days, Mike was able to organize all the evidence and letters from character witnesses I provided to put together a very solid case. On the day of court, Mike had both the State’s Attorney and my boyfriend’s Probation Agent on board with his idea of a sentencing alternative to jail time. Because the judge hearing my boyfriend’s case was one of the toughest in Howard County, Mike even had an A.S.A.P. Home Detention representative present in court on my boyfriend’s behalf. Ultimately, the judge opted for an even lesser sentence than the one Mike had proposed. My boyfriend was released the same day as his trial with credit for time served, his probation period extended for only one year, and alcohol monitoring without home detention. I was in complete shock. Faith, hard work, and a brilliant lawyer certainly paid off. Michael Mastracci is worth every penny and then some. I will continue to use him and refer him to anyone who needs legal representation.
—Dale Bowles, Halethorpe, MD
When my son needed expert legal advice regarding a child custody issue, I called Mike for his highly regarded legal advice. My son lives in South Carolina and I had no idea how to find a good attorney for him there. Mike immediately took the action for me, read a draft document offered by the mother of my grandson, said it was totally unsatisfactory, and researched family law attorneys in South Carolina. He gave me the name of Lisa Carver and I forwarded that on to my son. Lisa turned out to be an excellent choice. Within 45 days of being retained, my son had joint legal custody at a very reasonable price, and all the documents were approved by the local courts there. Mike’s quick and effective action helped my son, my grandson, and me. I would strongly recommend Mike Mastracci to anyone seeking great legal counsel. Mike has always been there for me, in a timely manner, when legal issues arise.
Retired National Security and Contracts professional in both the private and federal government sectors
I have known Mike Mastracci for over 25 years. He is one of the better lawyers and truly a distinguished gentleman. When I was in need of his services many times and he always went the extra mile to make sure me and my family was secure. Due to the family oriented style that he brings to customer service speaking legalese on my behalf, I referred family, friends, and random pedestrians that in need of comfort. I wouldn’t trade him for the world and he always will be my go-to guy
I will forever be grateful that I was referred to Mike when I began the divorce process. I appreciated that he practiced collaborative divorce, as I was hoping to end my marriage as gracefully as possible for my daughter’s well-being. Unfortunately, my ex felt otherwise and was uncooperative in every way imaginable. Regardless, Mike tried his best to work with my ex’s attorney to settle our divorce in a respectful manner for over a year. When Mike eventually realized that my ex would do everything in his power to prevent a civil dissolution of our marriage he referred me to another for strategic reasons and to better protect my interests. However, throughout the several years of legal drama that unfolded, Mike was always there to answer my questions or reassure me. He was my rock. He was the attorney I trusted. He consulted with me any time I questioned my new counsel’s advice and offered reasonable and intelligent advice.
Most attorneys seem to be most interested in billable hours. Mike always seems to be interested in doing what’s right. He made sure I never lost sight of my daughter’s well-being in the middle of all the stress and anxiety. He was the voice of reason when I was angry and overwhelmed. He has a strong moral compass and high standards for himself.
Since the finalization of my divorce, I have had to consult legal counsel about custody issues and the sale of the marital home. Mike is the only attorney I trust to honestly answer my questions and to tell me when he believes my thinking may be wrong. I appreciate him pushing back when I need to hear another point of view.
While I certainly hope to never have to use an attorney again, I know that Mike will be there to help me if I do. And, I know he is the only lawyer I will recommend to my family and friends.
—Patrick Bucher II
I have known Michael for over 25 years and I have retained him numerous times for various criminal and traffic violations. Whenever I’ve needed help, he’s been right there for me. He has treated me with nothing but kindness, respect and dignity and has handled my cases with honesty, professionalism, and compassion. He is someone I trust implicitly when it comes to the law. His knowledge of the law is impressive, and his courtroom decorum is without peer. He tells it like it is. He makes sure you understand everything. I know that when Mike is representing me, he will go all out, that he has only my best interest at heart. I wouldn’t have anybody else representing me in the courtroom.
—Attorney Rita S. Pollak
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT MIKE’S BOOK,
STOP FIGHTING OVER THE KIDS: RESOLVING DAY-TO-DAY CUSTODY CONFLICT IN DIVORCE SITUATIONS:
“STOP Fighting Over the Kids, by Attorney Mike Mastracci, will become a classic, to be added to the shelves of all professionals who work with separating and divorcing families. It is a personal and comprehensive work which is both inspirational as well as practical. Attorney Mastracci pulls no punches. He speaks directly to parents, reminding them of their highest obligation, which is to keep their children safe, secure, well cared for and healthy.”
“This direct, no-nonsense, sometimes colorful, approach is effective because he weaves his personal experiences with his professional ones; every word hits the right note. The lists of Do’s and Don’s at the end of most chapters will become easy reference guides for parents. I can see myself printing out some of those lists to hand to particular clients; they are that practical and realistic. Buy this book by the dozen and start handing it out to your clients now.”
—David L. Levy, J.D., Board President, the Children's Rights Council (CRC)
As head of the Children’s Rights Council since its inception, I am familiar with most of the literature. Many of these books are quite good, but I can assure you that Mike Mastracci’s STOP Fighting Over the Kids is one of the best.
Most importantly, Mike is a gifted writer. He is able to convey his sound advice in clear, convincing prose. He covers all topics with practical advice and sensible approaches. If parents have to get divorced, they would do well to read this book before they take a single step to hiring a lawyer or driving to the court house. This is because the decisions you make from Step 1 – considering divorce – all the way to raising your children to adulthood and beyond, will be enhanced by a reading of this book and the terrific advice that Mastracci has to offer. There is not one step in resolving day-to-day custody conflict in divorce situations that this book does not cover in terms that will help you and the other parent keep your child out of the middle of a custody battle. Be assured that custody battles will harm your child. Your conflict will reach the ears, heart and mind of the child. It cannot help but make him or her worry and fret, no matter how hard you try to insulate her or him from the struggle.
So make your best attempt to put your child first, lessening the pain to your child and you. Help yourself to a generous dollop of wisdom that will help you and every member of your family come out as unscarred as possible from what is happening around you. Stop Fighting Over the Kids let Mike Mastracci show you how. It will be worth it.
—Risa Garon, LCSW-C, BCD, CFLE, Executive Director, National Family Resiliency Center
STOP Fighting Over the Kids is must for parents contemplating separation and divorce and all professionals who work with families in transition. Being honest about his own family transition, Mike Mastracci provides a ‘how to’ about the many aspects which parents must deal with in addressing the needs of their children.
Mike found the ‘Big Rock” his center, his spiritual place that he shared with his son. He invites us all, particularly parents, to find their own rocks to help them through and keep the focus of all decisions on the real best interests of their children.
At the same time, Mike addresses all professionals, judges, attorneys, mediators, mental health professionals working with families and challenges us to take the highest road for children. His discussion of collaborative law is particularly meaningful. Collaborative law builds a lasting road map for parents and provides an active voice for children so that their developmental needs are heard and addressed.
It is time in our contemporary society, for each of us who works with families and is part of a family, to define what children really need in order to grow and thrive. Mike Mastracci has accomplished this in his book and in his wonderful relationship with his son, the best testimony to taking the high road which Mike advocates for all of us.
—Marshall E. Waller, Certified Family Law Specialist, Dr. Phil's Best of the Best Child Custody Attorney
I found the book easy to read and jam-packed with insights, information and guidance, the likes of which I have yet to see anywhere else.
I have been practicing custody litigation for over 27 years and I am a Certified Family Law Specialist here in California (so certified by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization) and I have, quite literally, seen it all in this area. You have created a resource I plan on sending my clients to as often as possible.
Your book should be required reading for anyone with children, whether divorce or custody litigation is looming in their future or not. This is a valuable read for parents, period. It helps us to understand the depths of the emotions and consequences that our behavior as adults and parents in these difficult situations can have on our children and their children’s children, and so on, quite literally for generations to come.
The resources you provide are clear and even-handed. You have created a road map for successful parenting that should become a staple in every custody lawyer’s library and a recommended resource on every courthouse web site. I will continue to use, refer to and recommend this invaluable resource.
—Raoul Felder, Celebrity Divorce Lawyer
STOP Fighting Over the Kids provides the tools, resources and insight that every divorcing parent needs. You will learn how to promote and foster the right mindset from someone who has ‘walked the walk.’ This book is excellent, especially for those who are serious about keeping their children out of the middle of parental conflict.
—Rosalind Sedacca, CCT
STOP Fighting Over the Kids is a well-thought out and comprehensive guide based on this caring attorney’s years of experience dealing with divorce ‘wars.’ His advice is sound, compassionate and valuable for any parents facing the challenges of divorce. If you want to protect your children in the best possible way, I highly recommend this book.
—Leon A. Rosenberg, Ph.D.
Mike Mastracci’s book, STOP Fighting Over the Kids, is the best I have ever seen for people who are either heading for separation and possible divorce or are divorced and are struggling with shared parenting issues.”
“Every important potential problem is discussed in a down-to-earth and straight forward manner and every issue discussed comes with practical, clearly written, and absolutely do-able recommendations for their solution. And every recommendation regarding kids, in my professional opinion, is consistent with what we know would be important for their emotional health and well-being.”
The author does a very good job of helping the reader understand what they can and cannot expect courts and judges to do. And the reasons why litigation should be a last-resort only and real effort should be made to avoid it are clearly and powerfully presented, as well as very practical steps that can be taken to succeed in avoiding litigation.
The author talks to the reader in such a compassionate, personal, and supportive manner that you immediately know that you are hearing from a person who sincerely wants to help and who really knows what he is talking about. Not only is this book of great potential help to those personally struggling with these issues but it can serve as an excellent source book for mental health professionals working in the area and students of all disciplines interested in family law.
—Honorable Edward Sosnick, Circuit Court Judge Co-founder of the Michigan SMILE Program for Divorcing Families
As co-founder of the Michigan SMILE program, an educational seminar for parents regarding the impact of divorce on children, I was delighted to read Michael Mastracci’s STOP Fighting Over the Kids.”
“Mike Mastracci’s approach makes it clear that parental conflict can be toxic for children and that every mother and father has the power to minimize that impact by learning and agreeing to put their children first. This book presents a road map to make this better outcome possible. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to take their kids out of the middle and on the path to fulfillment of their potential.
—Michael L. Boyle, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist and Mediator, Co-founder of The Mediation Center in Ellicott City, Maryland
Divorce in the 21st Century is devolving into a shipwreck of relationships with children as the unintended, unsuspecting, undeserving victims. Enter now, ‘a beacon of light’ from collaborative family law attorney, Mike Mastracci providing us with a caring, clear, concise manual describing the steps to follow in achieving a marital separation/divorce that protects children and parents against the myriad of emotional and practical pitfalls.
—Heather Drescher, Illustrator of "YOU and ME MAKE THREE... B.B. - The Bear Who's Always There - Helps Kids With Divorce
Divorce is never easy – especially for the ones who have no choice in the matter – the children. When parents make the decision to divorce, their children’s lives are altered forever. It is crucial for parents to understand how their actions and attitudes during the divorce process will adversely affect their children. By educating themselves on how to control their emotions, and therefore, actions, parents can help lessen the negative impact of divorce on their children. “STOP Fighting Over The Kids … Resolving Day – To – Day Custody Conflict in Divorce Situations” by Mike Mastracci is a fantastic source of information for divorcing parents by someone “who has been there”, both personally and professionally.