There Are No Simple Solutions to Complex Problems

By Marlo Van Oorschot
Van Oorschot Law Group PC

It’s true; there are no simple solutions to complex problems. While not all divorces and family law matters are complex, most have some level of complexity due to the interconnected and often dependent issues of money, children, and emotions. In my experience, the most effective way to manage the complexities of a family law matter is with strategic planning.

Not all lawyers employ strategic planning; others do employ a strategy but fail to communicate the strategy to their clients; or adapt the strategy as necessary as circumstances change. These situations are unacceptable. Therefore, hiring a lawyer that engages in and communicates the strategic plan and process of planning is important; however, a client may not come to understand the shortcomings of their lawyer in the area of strategy until their case is well underway. Changing lawyers mid-case is never easy or cost-efficient, therefore if a client likes his or her lawyer, it may be time to hire a legal strategist to work alongside one’s lawyer.

Reasons Why a Client May Want a Legal Strategist

While many lawyers will not like nor will they likely suggest the hiring of a second lawyer, there are many who embrace the collaboration and additional resources a legal strategist brings to a matter.  While my personal work as a family law attorney is to be employed directly by a client to represent her or him in their legal matter with the understanding that I pride myself on employing and communicating strategy to my clients, there are those situations where segregating the scope of work in a complex family case requires having more than one lawyer on board. Some advantages of engaging a separate legal strategist from the client’s perspective are:

Developing Legal Arguments & Positions. A good strategy requires the law and the facts to support a goal; but then it requires a thoughtful and thorough development of the “if this, then that” thinking to craft the requested relief being sought from a judge or to be written in a negotiated agreement. A legal strategist has the freedom away from the day-to-day mandates of litigation counsel to develop these key documents that will guide the litigation and/or court order and settlement agreement thereafter. Keep in mind, as a case evolves, often the strategy (and goals) must evolve, as well.

Client Liaison. Litigators are some of the busiest people I have ever known, and getting in touch with your lawyer is not always easy or quick.  Having a legal strategist who is an integral part of your matter there to answer questions, provide guidance and to “interpret attorney-speak” so you never feel left in the dark.

It’s rarely simple

If there are no minor children, little or few assets and both spouses work and support themselves from their own earnings, and there is no dispute, then the divorce may in fact be simple.  However, most people who engage family law attorneys have one or more financial issues, child custody issues, or emotional components that are interconnected thereby removing the situation from the realm of simplicity.  And, while the level of complexity is on a continuum from mild to highly complex, it is important to understand that if it is believed that the solution is simple and clear to a complex problem, that this may be wrong. Regardless of where on the continuum of complexity a situation exists, some form of a strategy is required to be employed and changed when appropriate to do so.


A strategic plan must be dynamic and modified as circumstances or preferences change so as to not get fixated on the plan itself but to embrace the planning, which is an ongoing process.  As Winston S. Churchill said, “Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.” This is why a strategic plan should be made and then modified and adapted to circumstances like a divorce or family law case evolves. My work as a Divorce Legal Strategist™ means we carefully evaluate the issues our clients face including where we believe we can achieve success, where we believe we will face risks, and engage in strategic planning with our clients to move toward success.