Do you know where you’re headed in your Family Law Case?
You have probably heard this before. It makes so much sense. It has been used by everyone from Dale Carnegie in the ’80s in their motivational classes to Herm Edwards, Football Coach, and Analyst, to describe what you have to do to get to a SuperBowl. However hackneyed it might be, the point it makes is right on point in every endeavor that is taken by a human being – including success in your Family Law Case. Do you and your lawyer have a plan to get what you want out of your family law case?
You are never going to come out ahead on the other side of a divorce or custody fight unless you have a plan. Going through the motions of meeting with your lawyer, providing all the information needed, and attending Court hearings will not get you more time with your children or the asset division you need to survive post-divorce unless there is a well-thought-out plan in place. This planning should start in the first consultation or meeting you have with your lawyer. The attorney should dig out the goal issues important to you and then give you realistic feedback on whether those desired results are going to be achievable. Chasing a dream that the facts in your case won’t support is only going to cost you the money you shouldn’t have to spend and make you feel very used, angry, and despondent when the case is finished.
The plan in a family law case – be it divorce or modification – must take into consideration the facts, the law, the Judge, your spouse or ex, opposing counsel, and budget. Your lawyer should sift through each of the factors and then give you different options for a plan that can be to reach your goal. The final decision should be yours as to what road you should take and, once selected, should be written down for both of you to follow. You should have clear direction on what is needed from you and what the time constraints are to be on the initial plan.
The Plan you choose should be centered around a “theme of the case”. Every family law case has a “theme”. The “theme” is the anchor around which each step of the Plan is designed. It is the core principle of the case that determines the evidence that must be located and used, the presentation in court or mediation, and how you justify your position in the case.
Like all Plans, it more than likely will have to be modified and changed as the case proceeds. The actions of the other side, unforeseen events that always occur during the case, and budget constraints will lead to modifying the original Plan. When that happens, you and your attorney should jointly decide on what changes need to be made. The revised Plan again needs to be memorialized so you and your attorney know what steps need to be now taken on the amended Plan.
If this procedure is followed throughout the duration of your case, you will always know where you are in achieving your case goals and, more importantly, allows you know where you are in the process. In a field where budgeting for the costs of the project is often difficult to accomplish, implementing a written plan for the case provides some accountability and responsibility for the end result.
The Plan for your case should be a joint collaboration between you and your lawyer. Each of you should be 100% committed to the Plan you finally decide to use. The Plan should be as simple as possible. The Plan should be flexible enough to change when needed. And finally, you should always know the Plan. Blind adherence to the process and assurances from your attorney that “everything is under control” without being fully informed of how that process is being used to achieve your goals is nothing more than a “wish”.