Potential clients sometimes ask me … Can this case be won? Can you (meaning me) win this case? Can you beat the other attorney? I understand this line of questioning and why a potential client would ask those kinds of thing. I generally have a hard time answering questions like that. Mostly because … it depends on what you mean by win.
How do you know if you won a divorce case? Some things associated with “winning” are unlikely to happen in a divorce. No one got married to get a divorce, so by definition, there is some degree of loss for both husband and wife. At the end of a divorce or custody fight, very few people are happy. I always say if being married makes you unhappy … wait until you start the divorce process.
Usually, at the beginning of a case, I try to sit with a client and develop objectives for the end of the case. These objectives often include:
- Protecting the children to the degree possible from the disruption and heartbreak associated with the divorce of their parents.
- Making sure that custody arrangements associated with the case match the needs and best interests of the children … both short term and long term.
- Clearly identifying all the property and dividing it appropriately.
- Making sure the property is protected and an angry soon to be ex cannot and does not destroy the value of the property.
- Making sure that the parties and children will be taken care of during the divorce process. For example:
- How will the money be handled?
- Who will live in the home?
- How will we care for the children while the divorce is pending? and
- What should be done to prepare for single life and life as a single parent?
Clients sometimes have some short term objectives that I urge them to leave behind … for example:
- He or she had an affair and I want to get even.
- I want to take her or him for everything they own.
- He or she is a butthead and I don’t want them around our children.
- I want to screw them to the wall.
Almost always … I recommend the following divorce strategy …
- First, never never do anything that is not in your children’s best interest.
- That means no matter what the other side does, or does not do. Just because they say nasty things about you to the children that is no excuse for you to do likewise.
- Second, treat the other side fairly in the property division. In the long run, treating the other side fairly makes your healing from the trauma of divorce easier.
- Third, insist on being treated fairly. Do not let the other side walk all over you just because you do not want to fight, or want the divorce to be over quickly. You may not have a lot of assets and money in the marriage, but you will need your fair share to get on with your life. You will regret having given the other side more than their fair share.
- Lastly … do not be in too big a hurry. I know this is painful, but it will one day be history. It is more important to divorce property than quickly
If you are getting a divorce, I suggest you consult with an experienced family law attorney to help you set both your expectation and your case strategy. Divorce is a sad, difficult experience … you need expert advice to make the process understandable and predictable.