Taking Control of Your Case
Now that you have all of this information at your fingertips, how does it work and what does it all mean to you?
Even though we might file papers with the court from the get-go we normally try to keep open the possibility of settling the case. In fact, in some cases we actually try very hard to get a case to settle. Along the way though, as the case progresses there are some steps which often help to facilitate settlement. One of these is what we call a 4-way conference. That’s a meeting held with both of the lawyers and you and your husband or wife. We sit down together in a room and try to see exactly where we stand. We try to figure out what the real points of disagreement are and where compromises might be reached. Many times, significant progress toward settlement is made during these conferences.
Another step along the way is a little more formal and involves the courts more directly. This is a pre-trial conference. In a pre-trial conference, the attorneys for both sides go into the judge’s chambers and basically provide the judge with the facts of the case. They tell the judge what the issues are, what the positions of each side are and what they think they can prove. The judge then, based on the information he is given, lets the lawyers know how he thinks he might be inclined to rule based on the facts he is given. This usually gives both parties a better idea of where they stand and this kind of knowledge often opens up doors to settlement.
Of course, the final stage is trial itself. Actually, relatively few divorce cases go all the way to trial. Another thing to keep in mind is that it’s not uncommon for a case to settle right before trial is set to begin. An experienced lawyer can let you know when it’s a good idea to take your case all the way to trial. A judge’s personality often affects the decisions he or she makes and they are given some discretion when making rulings. When an attorney’s been around for ages and ages like yours truly (smiles), you tend to get an idea of what many of the judges are like. Knowing this is helpful in many cases. By law, each side is entitled to one change of judges, no questions asked with no reason required to be given.
The only catch is that you have to ask for that change of judges before he or she makes any real decisions affecting your case. Keep in mind that over the course of a divorce case, because of the way the system is set up, you might be moved around from judge to judge depending on the stage your case is in. However, you only get to use your free change of judges once. Therefore, an experienced lawyer can help you decide if you should use your change of judges and at what point in the ball game it might be advantageous to do so. Knowing the facts of your particular case, an experienced lawyer can actually help you to figure out if a particular judge is “good” or “bad” for you.
Taking Control of Your Life
One of the much concealed but very real pluses in a divorce action is the opportunity for you to concentrate on your life situation and with the help of anyone that can and will help. Spend the time to see what went wrong and how to make things better for the moment and hopefully for the future. We want to hit on a few of the most important and immediate points.
We know that, in many cases, it is a little bit like a passenger on the Titanic considering ship’s safety as the band plays on and their feet get wet. But there are differences in this type of crisis from many others that we all experience at one time or another. Primarily this a crisis where you have time and sometimes more time and more time and well, you get the point. This time can be wasted or well spent. While some of these observations are obvious they are practical tips that have allowed many of our clients to make their way through very hard times. First – remember as traumatic as the times may be, almost everyone survives divorce. It has happened and if your marriage can’t be saved its damage control. Things can’t be the same no matter how much we wish they would.
You must get the help for yourself to deal with the pain or rage or bewilderment. Ever notice on an airplane that the flight attendant says “First put the oxygen mask on you then on the children?”
If you are the one leaving, most of the time, you owe. Even if you don’t really owe you’ll have to pay.
A byproduct of the high divorce rate is that a bunch of talented people have been drawn to the growth industry and all sorts of support is out there. So counseling may not give you the answers to life but, like medicine, psychotherapy will give you a name for your feelings, the assurance that they will pass and hopefully some techniques for handling the distress of you, your children and perhaps your spouse.
Second – as soon as your feet hit the ground begin planning for the future. If you have been the bread winner what can you do to realistically help your spouse make it? If you have no skills and your spouse has always been the one earning the money what can you do to improve your economic potential and still nurture your children during the important years?
A plan is important to your case and your life. It can give you hope and confidence. Vocational testing is available at most community colleges for free as are classes for homemakers returning to the work force. The difference between $8.00 per hour and fifty or sixty thousand dollars per year can be as simple as two years of computer training.
Third – choose your lawyer carefully. Your decision should be based not on what you want to hear but how much sense what you hear makes. If you are distraught bring someone with you, someone who is at least a little bit objective, has some experience and good common sense.