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Mistakes to Avoid (During Family Law Litigation)

September 14, 2011

Part 5 in an ongoing series: Managing New Challenges in California Family Law Disputes

It is important for the client to recognize that it might take several months for their case to be heard in court, so that they do not have any false hope of obtaining a quick resolution. At the same time, this delay often offers the client opportunities to explore consensual dispute resolution programs that can take their matter out of the congested court docket and put it into the
hands of a private judge. A client may ask, “If I can get a bench officer to judge my case for free by going to court, why should I pay $5,000 to have a private judge hear my matter?” The answer is that instead of waiting around for months to get your case heard, you will get your case tried faster by a very well-qualified, retired expert. Therefore, even though you have to pay
for their services at the outset of the case, in the long run, a private dispute resolution procedure is less expensive than litigation.

Another mistake to avoid in family law litigation relates to perceptions of fairness. When you listen to a client tell their story you have to be able to consider what their spouse is saying about the same situation. Consequently, if you are able to take what your client says with a grain of salt, you might be a more effective attorney on their behalf. You should never get so personally aligned with the client’s situation that you lose sight of what the law is, or lose sight of what a rational explanation for some of their behavior might be. Simply put, the greatest mistake practitioners make is becoming too aligned with their client’s situation, and losing their

-Joseph P. Spirito Jr. is a partner at McGaughey & Spirito. He has been in private practice in Los Angeles area since 1982. He is currently serving on the executive committee of the Los Angles County Bar’s family law section and is A Better Divorce Collaborative Law Group – Co-Founder and President

This article was first published in STRATEGIES FOR FAMILY LAW 20th EDITION

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