A previous article, “What Your Family Law Attorney Might Not Tell You(But Should): Part 1,” discussed central truths about family law cases that often go unexpressed by family law attorneys to their clients. With this “Part 2,” we resume the forthright discussion about the realities in family law cases that your attorney may have left unsaid, but that you should really understand.
- The Impact of Social Media. In these modern times, social media plays a large role in many people’s lives. Your attorney might mention offhandedly to be cautious on what you post on social media; however, in reality, individuals involved in family law cases, especially contentious ones, should avoid using social media altogether. Clients should recognize the potential consequences of their activity on social media. Anything you share can be used against you in court. These posts may negatively impact the outcome of your family law case. This also applies to posts on the social media accounts of your friends or new girlfriend or boyfriend. Many people believe they are somehow invisible while on other people’s accounts, but you can be sure, one of the first things the opposing party informed their lawyer of was the name of your new girlfriend or boyfriend. That attorney then found them on social media, took screenshots of all the vacations and shopping trips you took together, ready to use this evidence to eviscerate your claims of impoverishment.
- Honesty about Everything is Essential. That last sentence above brings us to this: You need to be absolutely honest about everything to your attorney. Further, this honesty needs to start from the very beginning. Honesty is critical during the entire process. Your attorney is not going to judge you; however, they may very much dislike you after they are surprised-attacked by opposing counsel with something they had no knowledge of, and essentially, made them look foolish. In some cases, the withholding of the truth is so extreme, your attorney may decide that they do not wish to damage their reputation by continuing to work with you and will withdraw from your case. Another very important consideration is that courts make many decisions based on the credibility of parties while testifying. Being cagey or untruthful in court is a guaranteed way to torpedo your case.
- There is No Real Privacy. Being honest about everything ties in with this truth: Once you become involved in a family law case (again, especially a contentious one), there is no real privacy. You must understand that it will become necessary for your life to be an “open book.” So, please do not feel offended if your attorney asks you some very personal questions or asks you to provide a response to what the opposing party has alleged. Different aspects of your personal life are going to be studied because, for instance, it may affect your contact with your children or your finances will be scrutinized because it may affect your alimony claim. It is best to be open and honest about everything so that you and your attorney can prepare for anything that may come up.
- Frequently, There is a Difference between What is Legal and What Seems Fair. Some family law attorneys will simply tell their clients what they believe they want to hear. “Of course, you will get X, Y, Z” or, I can guarantee I can get X, Y, Z for you.” However, as much as an attorney can advocate for their client’s best interests, you must also understand that they can only work within the constraints of the law. Many times, the hard truth of what actually can or does occur in your case given the state of the law, feels completely unfair. The laws may go against your goals or what you feel you deserve in this case. Unfortunately, there is often a difference between what the law can do and what seems fair. You need to appreciate this difference at the outset so that your expectations are tempered.
- Emotional Toll. Being involved in a family law case can be one of the most stressful times in your life. The continued stress, anxiety, anger, etc. during your family law case (and after its conclusion can have a huge emotional toll on you. You need to have a good support system of friends and family. Moreover, there should be no shame surrounding receiving help through therapy or support groups. You will need and appreciate the emotional and practical assistance these different people can provide during a challenging family law case.
- Litigation is the Worst. All the truths contained above lead to this reality that many family law attorneys will not tell you: Litigation is the worst way to proceed in a family law case. Litigation can be a challenging, extremely stressful, and a resource-intensive process. The only people who really benefit from a traditional litigation model are the attorneys. The alternatives to litigation, such as the Collaborative model, uncontested model, or pre-suit mediation, offer real advantages over the traditional litigation model. The Collaborative model, specifically, prioritizes cooperation, transparency, privacy, and allows individuals to come up with agreements that are mutually beneficial and best for their particular family – often crafting agreements that courts cannot (due to those constraints of the law). Lastly, this alternative is superior to the traditional litigation model because the Collaborative model helps preserve relationships between the parties.
Appreciating these realities provides a deeper understanding of the inner workings of the legal process, potential hazards, and better approaches to family law cases. Hopefully, supplied with these insights, you will be well-equipped to navigate your personal family law case. Artemis Family Law Group would also be prepared to assist you in any family law matter. Please click here to schedule a consultation.