Holland & Usry February 2019

Family Court Requires Emotional Intelligence IN ADDITION TO LEGAL SKILL

I know all too well that this month doesn’t bring roses and candy boxes for everyone. I’m not going to win any awards for insightfulness when I tell you divorce is hard. Even if you’re looking forward to getting the next chapter of your life started, nobody views the dissolution of a marriage as a fun time. Couple the financial strain that separation entails with the emotional stress of divorce, and it’s enough for anyone to want to just get it over with. Despite this, I’m here to tell you that making a good faith effort to resolve your grievance before you get to court is essential. You can be as adversarial as you want, but that will only result in a judge deciding who gets what. That may sound easier than hashing out custody and property distribution with your ex, but the results are often not as good. A judge doesn’t know you or your situation, and they’re going to make the best decision they can based on the evidence in front of them. Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn’t; but whatever the result, you lose a mountain of agency the second your family court matter goes in front of a judge. That’s why it’s so important to work with an experienced divorce attorney who will coach you through the process and present your argument in the best possible light. Too many people hire cut-rate attorneys with little experience to handle their divorce. Believe it or not, the Family Court is insanely complicated. There is a lot to consider, and if somebody’s not used to the process, they can’t accurately advise you on what to do. It’s just as crucial to find someone who will help you with the emotional aspects of your divorce, in addition to the legal ones. In family court matters, feelings can compromise your best

judgment. A good family court lawyer isn’t one who’s going to promise you the moon; it’s one who will honestly assess your situation and let you know what’s possible. They should also be able to dispel your preconceived notions about how the Family Court works. The biggest surprise many people going through a divorce experience is how long it takes. A proceeding can easily last up to a year and often can exceed it. Another common shock for those experiencing divorce is mandated mediation. “I know we can’t reach an agreement,” clients will say, “and now I have to try to mediate with them.” Mediation is involuntary, but whether you actually make an attempt at it is up to you. Like I said at the beginning of this article, mediation may not be pleasant, but at least it isn’t the gambit of going in front of a judge with the possibility of losing control of the outcome. Don’t get me wrong, there are some divorce proceedings that result in no other option than going to court. If that is the case, you need an experienced trial lawyer on your side. –John Holland

In Family Court matters, feelings can compromise your best judgment. A good Family Court lawyer isn’t one who’s going to promise you the moon; it’s one who will honestly assess your situation and let you know what’s possible.

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