Think Like a Family Law Attorney and Win Your Case!
Written by: Tracy Augustin
More often than not, by the time a client comes to visit us, the damage has already been done. What do I mean by that, you ask yourself? Well, what I mean is, when issues arise between parents, the dispute has already taken place, and there is no real way to collect or gather proof of it (evidence), so the matter becomes a “he said, she said” dispute from the get go.
And then, once a Petition to Enforce or Modify has been filed, the entire case rests on each party’s credibility and so the family court judge is left trying to put together the pieces of “half-truths” and one-sided accounts of events. AND, believe it or not, sometimes family court judges get it completely wrong.
Shocking, right? Not really.
But, there are ways to make sure that you might be able to present the “best evidence” available at trial. And so, this blog is going to teach you 3 helpful tips on how to THINK LIKE A FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY.
1. PRESERVATION OF EVIDENCE
You may be asking yourself whether that text message or e-mail really matters. Or whether the judge can even consider those things as evidence. The answer is “yes”! In most cases, letters, e-mails, text messages and even voice-recordings can be used in Family Court proceedings as evidence. This may mean that you want to figure out a way of saving all of this potentially valuable information. Invest in a flash drive or save everything to “the cloud” (somewhere on the internet). It’s frustrating to clients (and any family law attorney) when they come to my office and tell me that they had been saving all their text messages on their phone, but then, of course, their phone died, is lost, or was eaten by a giant raptosaurus. So, before any of those unfortunate events occur, back up the information, for crying out loud! Also, if there is something suspicious or notable that requires documentation, then for heaven’s sake, document it, keep a calendar or date book, take a photograph of it, or make a copy of it, and.. here’s the important part:
Don’t lose it!
And, this, Grasshopper, is a nice segue into our next tip….
2. DON’T WRITE ANYTHING THAT YOU WOULDN’T LET MOTHER THERESA (AKA YOUR FAMILY COURT JUDGE) READ
Of course, if you are diligently saving all text messages and e-mails between you and your ex, you can bet your bottom dollar that your ex is, too. It’s best to assume that they are keeping every correspondence from you. That said, I’m assuming you don’t want your judge to read your threats to the other party, your derogatory comments or your petty rants and raves. SAVE THAT. Maybe you write an e-mail (and send it to yourself) with all of your gripes, and all of the horrible things you want or wish you could say, but here’s the key: YOU DON’T ACTUALLY SEND IT TO THE OTHER PARTY. Don’t give them ammunition to use against you. AND DON’T think that social media is a good place to air your dirty laundry either. Even if you are not Facebook (insert Instagram, Twitter, etc.) friends with the other parent, there is a good chance they have figured out ways to see your page/posts. (Remember that the Facebook friends you were mutually acquaintanced with through your ex is now helping him/her access your profile. Seriously.)
3. DON’T BE AFRAID TO NEGOTIATE
Family law attorneys are all about negotiating!
It always surprises me when parties never consider swapping days or trading “this” for “that” when something is in their children’s best interest. For example, let’s say you want to take the children out of town for 3 weeks this summer even though your Parenting Plan only permits a 2 week period of uninterrupted parenting time. Well then, don’t be afraid to ask for additional time, and while you are at it, why not offer the other parent an extra week, too, or an extra week next year, or fall break, or an extra week that they can cash in when they need/want it (like a “get out of jail free card” to be redeemed when needed).
My only warning on this tip is to GET ALL AGREEMENTS OUTSIDE OF YOUR PARENTING PLAN IN WRITING!
If you follow these tips, you my friend are thinking like a family law attorney who is on the way to winning the case.