There are always at least two sides to any dispute in Family Law litigation, and legally speaking, one side will be deemed the winner. With adequate preparation and good representation to the court, the likelihood of a litigant with a solid case being victorious at trial is high. However, this is not always how things turn out. Good cases are not always considered “winners” in the courtroom. If you are a family litigant, there are a number of reasons why this might happen to you:
- Lack of Preparation
Gathering all of the necessary documents, preparing your witnesses, obtaining expert results when needed and familiarizing oneself with the Family Law Rules are essential components to the preparation process, and ultimately to the trial. The merits of even a good case can become clouded if the lawyer fails to take the time to marshal all the evidence and documentation that will help the court reach the decision you want and are legally entitled to.
- Using the Court to Get Revenge or Retribution
Emotions can run high whenever there is legal action and even more so with family litigation, where the levels of acrimony, interpersonal contempt, vindictiveness and need for retaliation are at an all-time high. Family litigants are especially prone to using the court system to “get even” with an ex-partner, or to try to achieve other objectives that are not grounded in legal rights, but rather on moral or emotional rights. Court cases can often go terribly wrong when a litigant loses sight of the proper aim, objectives and processes of the justice system.
- Not Fulfilling Obligations to the Court and to the Other Side
Despite being an adversarial process at times, family litigation nonetheless involves a great deal of co-operation between litigants. Each party will have an ongoing disclosure obligation and each party will be required to be completely forthright in the context of equalizing family assets post-separation. Many good Family Law cases falter and go wrong due to one of the parties’ lack of honesty in regards to assets or income.
- Having Unreasonable Expectations
Going into family court with the expectation that you are going to “clean your ex out” during the equalization process or expecting to have no financial responsibility whatsoever for the support of your own children because your relationship with their other parent has broken down is not realistic. Clients with assumptions and expectations of this nature demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding of the legal rights and obligations that arise in connection with separation, divorce and custody. It is important that you have a solid awareness of the law that governs your particular circumstance, ideally by getting competent legal advice that is tailored to your own situation. This will help prevent you from having expectations that cannot and will not be met when your matter actually gets before a family court judge.
It is important to get off on the right foot with a good understanding of the initial steps and with a good sense of rapport and trust in the chosen lawyer. You can have the strongest, most watertight legal position with ample supporting facts and evidence, but in terms of persuading a court, the merits of your case can get clouded and obscured by a variety of factors. Getting competent legal advice ahead of time, far in advance of going to court, will help you avoid this possibility. Hopefully your decision to hire a lawyer will come at the very beginning of the divorce process when there is still room for clarity as to how the process may unfold.