Custody Case in Albania

One of my very first cases in the prime court of Tirana in 2004 was a pro bono custody case that involved multiple categories of law. At that time, I didn't fully realize that I was experiencing the freedom to use and interpret the law in a unique and valuable way.

My client was a mother of two daughters born out of wedlock who had been sued by their father, who was currently in prison and seeking sole custody. It was clear to me that the father didn't really care about the children, and that his request for custody was just an attempt to get out of prison.

In order to win the case, I needed to prove that the father's request for custody was not legal or was not his real motive. I prepared an expert witness, a psychologist, to confirm that the mother was a fit parent, and we had to go through several court hearings, including two formal ones in front of the judge.

The third hearing was held in a real courtroom, and the plaintiff was escorted to the courthouse by the police. I waited until this hearing to question the plaintiff directly. When I asked him about his daughters' birthdays, he didn't know the answers, which confirmed my suspicion that he didn't really care about the children.

I continue through a series of questions concerning the children and their personalities, the school performance of the eldest daughter, their preferences and childhood choices, I myself was surprised by the total chastity of the plaintiff, finaly, I went on to ask about the legal advantages he would gain by becoming sole custody, which his lawyer objected to as irrelevant. However, my questioning had already made it clear to everyone in the courtroom that the plaintiff's lawsuit was not really about the welfare of the children, but about his own self-interest.

In my written conclusions, I explained the real reason for the lawsuit, and the judge ultimately rejected the father's request for custody and allowed the children to remain with their mother.

Looking back on this case, I realize that I wasn't fully prepared for it. I could have asked more questions, such as why the father had never married my client, whether he had recognized the children as his, and whether he saw them regularly. Nonetheless, this case taught me the value of interpreting the law in a free system and the importance of fighting for what is right.

Being a Lawyer in Albania

I had the privilege of living the adventure of a lifetime in Albania, where I pursued a career in law. It turned out to be an incredibly valuable experience, even more than I had anticipated. Despite the corruption that pervaded the legal system in Albania, my team and I took our work very seriously and dove deep into the intricacies of the law.

In Albania, corruption was often viewed differently than in other countries. Giving money to someone to get something done was not necessarily considered an immoral act. Instead, it was seen as a sign of respect for that person's work. Corrupt judges would support lawyers who paid them, but they would not compromise the law. And even in a corrupted court hearing, the core of winning a case was still the same as in any other legal system - it required meticulous preparation, the collection of all relevant facts and legal acts, and the ability to present and interpret the case in the most favorable way for the client.

Our work was intense and demanding. We often worked late into the night, scouring through legal acts and documents to ensure the best defense for our clients. We tackled penal and civil cases, as well as property and family law cases, leaving no stone unturned in our search for the truth. And every morning, we went to court, ready to represent our clients in two or three hearings a day. Our mission was to pursue justice relentlessly, without any limits.

Customary law in Albania

From the very beginning, I often heard about the concept of "zhakonet" or "tradita," which refers to tradition in Albania. It's surprising that such an essential aspect of local culture can be described with just two words, lacking a proper classification system.

These words are used to describe daily, weekly, or monthly customs, how people celebrate, how they live their lives, and how they begin or end certain activities. Even the term related to customary law includes the word "zhakone," which has the same meaning as "tradita" but with a more formal character. Nevertheless, it is commonly used in daily language (zhakone, zhakona) when referring to something traditional or a customary practice.

Personally, I've never been fascinated by traditions in any place, and the more people refer to tradition to justify their actions, the more I tend to dislike them. However, it's a fact that traditions have played a significant role in Albanian history, making them the strongest law in the land!

Every person in Albania, regardless of their independence or success, follows some form of tradition and values the opinions of their community. It's disappointing to see how deeply rooted some people are in their traditions, leading me to question their ability to break free from traditional norms and think independently.