Great Expectations

Family law litigation can be difficult, not just because of the emotions but also because children are often involved, and because it can become a costly and arduous process for the parties. Nonetheless, one of the bigger problems is the challenging issue of managing expectations. The attorney wants to please their client. The client wants to win. A family’s future is at stake.

Family law attorneys should strive to set realistic expectations for their client, and family law clients should be wary of attorneys who appear overly confident regarding the outcome of a case.

The fact is, no attorney can predict the outcome of a case, whether the case proceeds via litigation or settlement outside of the courtroom. Therefore, it is best that the attorney communicates to the client the numerous ways a case can develop so that the client has a reasonable, as well as an informed, understanding about the possible outcome of their case and their future.

The following are various questions you as a family law client should ask your attorney when deciding about a course of litigation in your family law matter:

  • What are my potential risks if I put this statement in my Declaration about the issues in the case? (Except for paternity cases and unless sealed by the court, documents filed with the family court are public record.  Thus anyone can see what you say in your Declaration.)
  • What are my best and worst-case scenarios when it comes to my payments/receipt of support?
  • If I file for this particular kind of relief, what are the possible outcomes in court?
  • If I serve a request for document discovery on the other party, how much will it cost me?  What are we seeking to determine?
  • If I don’t take this settlement offer, what may happen?
  • Does this course of action further my short- and long-term goals?

The best relationships are those that challenge us, which in return, help us grow. Engaging the services of a family law attorney who helps you strategize a case, anticipate the best and worst-case scenarios, and dissect the various advantages and disadvantages with specific courses of action in litigation, is important and vital as you navigate through your family law journey.