- Surprising Similarities Between the 2020 Presidential Election and Family Law Litigation – read now
In every election, there is a winner and a loser. Although there may be occasions when the loser is unwilling to concede the loss, the winner nonetheless moves forward and prepares to take office. While I am not an elected official, the closest experience I have to running in an election is preparing for and participating in litigation. Often times, a potential client will call me and ask, “What is your win/loss ratio?” Ha, is my usual response. No one wins in family law cases, especially if your case ends up before a judge. If a judge is deciding contested issues, it is likely that you will be dissatisfied with certain decisions, such as legal or physical custody, but satisfied with other decisions, such as the distribution of marital property or alimony. Unlike presidential elections, the truth is that there is rarely, if ever, a clear winner when litigating family law cases.
Sometimes potential clients think they need a judge to decide their case because the client and his/her spouse are unable to reach an agreement on just about anything. As a family lawyer, I have a duty to review with my client the pros and cons of all of their options to resolve the instant dispute. When addressing the downsides of litigation, and there are many, one must consider time and the uncertainty of the outcome. Traditionally, the litigation process takes about a year from start to finish. But that timeline is no longer realistic as a result of COVID-19 and the courts having been closed for a significant period of time this year. Now, it may take up to two years from the time you start your family law case to when you have a final hearing.
In addition to outlining the projected timeline of contested litigation, I often face the difficult task of describing to clients just how difficult it is to handle the uncertainty of having a judge rule on incredibly important and personal issues, such as whether you’ll be able to stay in your home and your children’s daily schedules. That is, until now. Until this past week. Tuesday night, then Wednesday, then Thursday, then Friday, and not until Saturday afternoon did we receive the results of the presidential election. The uncertainty of the outcome was, for many of us, riddled with concern and anxiety. While you may have cast your ballot, donated money to your party, and made phone calls or knocked door to door to encourage voter participation, there wasn’t anything to do all week long but sit and wait for the results. The feeling you experienced last week is akin to being in litigation. You prepare your witnesses, admit evidence, and make your arguments, but ultimately you are left to wait for the judge to make a decision.
Regardless of whether you are disappointed or delighted by the results of the presidential election, the painstaking experience of waiting for the outcome is a very good reminder of what it feels like to litigate a family law case. Unfortunately, sometimes litigation cannot be avoided and our family law team is prepared to skillfully litigate on your behalf, if needed. But, if you wish to contribute more control in the outcome of your family law dispute, then I strongly encourage you to consider the many different options of alternative dispute resolution. Should you wish to review those options, please give me a call at 410.659.1325 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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