The opposing litigant, the lawyer, and witnesses aren’t your friend. And just because your friends and family love you and want to support you, doesn’t mean that they’re always helpful. The other side is there at court to present evidence against you and ask for something different than what you want. However polite or even friendly the other side is outside of court, remember that when your case is called, they’re going to be telling the judge why you shouldn’t get what you want. You’re in litigation.
A family law case involves at least two people, and more if there’s children. The judge knows this, and So should you. Even if you’re the reasonable one and your ex is busting your chops the whole way, you chose that person as a spouse and/or co-parent, or at least didn’t run away sooner after the warning signs.
As an arbitrator, I was always impressed with the experienced, short-spoken attorneys who made their point in a few seconds rather than the insecure young lawyers who spoke like they were paid by the word. When in Court, use the KISS method – keep it short stupid!
“Never hate your enemies. It clouds your judgment. Never let anyone know what you’re thinking.” Two wise sentences from Michael Corleone to his Nephew from the Godfather. Unfortunately, this has deep, close application to family court. I’ll explain.
The family law Court system puts father and mother against each other in a legal war, and parents often try to completely destroy the co-parent because of the pain, raw emotion, and deep wounds that were inflicted from the relationship or the separation. Ideally, they’d support each other for the benefit of their child, but the reality is that the pain and emotion of the break up can be so intense that it causes aggression, irrational behavior, and destruction to one or both parents.
Your ex knows how to upset you. He or she may start pushing your buttons in court to cloud your judgment, because then you respond with anger, and the emotions work against you. What can you do to combat this?
My wife uses the phrase, “poke the beast.” When I’m in a bad mood and holding back my rage, and then my son starts needling me, my wife says to him, “Thomas, don’t poke the beast.”
You researched the forms, the law, and the procedure, and you filed a Petition, or were served with one. Now its time to prepare for the conference, hearing, and/or trial. In preparing your case, ask yourself 3 questions:
1) What do I want the judge to order?
2) Why should the judge give it to me; and
3) How am I going to prove it.
You are getting divorced from your ex, or you’re unmarried with a child, and you’re getting separated. When do you need, and when do you NOT need a lawyer? Are mediators helpful?
The cold hard truth is that if you’re going to court alone and the other side has a lawyer, you’re at a serious disadvantage. Statistics show that the odds are stacked against you and the side with an attorney has a better chance of winning. What can you do to improve your chances and even up the odds? The best way to improve your chances in court is to prepare.