A law professor I admired passed away recently. He was 103 and I think he was still teaching law at the time of his death. He had a saying applicable to litigators: “Never drop your briefcase and run!” When you’re in Court be prepared for something unexpected and get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Judges get things wrong, they make mistakes, they make wrong decisions but if you disagree with a Judge, tell the Judge respectfully, tell the Judge why you disagree… and make sure your statement is on the record so you have something to appeal.
4 Things Your Divorce Attorney May Not Tell You
Child Custody Isn’t Only About “The Best Interest of The Child:
I want to make one critical point which is applicable to all contested custody cases. The Court’s focus is on what’s in the best interest of the child on which parent can physically take care of the child, but a bigger focus centers on which parent will promote the relationship the child has with the other parent.
Let’s be honest, many clients hate their spouses. The hate “bleeds” or “leaks” into the child and that “leakage” could turn the child against the other parent and undermine the child’s relationship with the other parent. I tell my angry clients to save anger and cursing for a lunch date with your friends. Never do it in the presence of the child.
An angry parent will be tempted to tell a child what an S.O.B the other parent is when the proper approach is something as follows: “Daddy loves you, I love you and none of this is your fault.” If you have to FAKE IT when you are with your children, then FAKE IT by promoting the relationship the child has with the other parent even though that may be the last thing you want to do.
Some Lawyers are in it For The Money, Not to Settle Your Case Quickly:
You want to settle the case without going to Court and with minimum heartache and expense? Hope that your spouse retains the right lawyer because the chemistry and the relationship that two lawyers have with one another is critical to settling the case.
The process is still adversarial but will undoubtedly go smoother if the lawyers know each other and if their goal is one and the same, namely: to settle the case. One of the first questions I ask my clients is: Who is your spouse’s lawyer?
If you don’t know your adversary make a hundred phone calls to other lawyers to find out everything you need to know about an unknown lawyer. Is he or she an experienced matrimonial attorney, are they known for settling cases, are they difficult to get along with, and the dreaded: are they just in it for the money?
Research Your Judge and Other Court Personnel:
Never walk into a courtroom when you know nothing about the Judge or the Judge’s attorney, who is called a Law Secretary or Court Attorney in New York. The Court Attorney does the heavy lifting for the Judge by conferencing cases, resolving immediate issues and problems, and by trying to actively broker a settlement.
You need to know everything about the Court Attorney. Finally, a very important person in the Courtroom is the Court Clerk. If you want to get your case called fast or postponed, make friends with the Clerk who should be known as the “Gatekeeper.”
Find Some Light at the End of the Tunnel:
Very often two spouses and their lawyers “sit and sign” a final divorce agreement in the same room and the process might take several hours. During that time, I keep things light-hearted, I tell jokes and keep everyone’s spirits up because the light at the end of the tunnel is close at hand.
At the end of my last “sit and sign” conference, I purchased four scratch-off lottery tickets for everyone in the room and right after the final agreement was signed, I made everyone promise to share the winnings equally if someone had a winning scratch-off ticket. Nobody won, but it was a fun way to lighten the atmosphere as the case was brought to a conclusion.