By Scott J Brook, PA
If you are going through the Court system for a divorce, Paternity matter or post-judgment matter, there are several things you should be aware of and prepare for. In this article, I will share a few ideas to make this difficult process less difficult and possibly help you achieve your objectives.
Can you WIN your case? Of course you can. However, it’s important to know that for every winner there is at least one loser. Don’t get me wrong, I love to win at trial. IT feels great. HOWEVER, consider the cost of the win. That includes legal fees, your time, your energy and more. One thing that most parents who litigate don’t focus enough on is the impact on the children. It is extraordinary difficult, of course, if your ex is a narcissist or is determined to fight you. Either way, you must protect your child. Here are a few tools in the toolbox. You can seek a Guardian Ad Litem or an Attorney Ad Litem to represent your minor child’s best interests. They are not inexpensive. If your ex’s mental health is at issue, you can seek a Psychological Evaluation or Social Investigation. If you would like to learn more about these options, feel free to email me at Scott@scottjbrookpa.com.
Another thing that most litigants in family law matters often are not aware of is the ability to have your ex pay your fees. If you earn substantially less than your spouse or ex-spouse or the other parent (in a paternity case), you might be able to recover or obtain Attorney’s fees in advance based on your need and his/her ability to pay. The sooner you seek temporary fees in a pleading, the sooner the Judge can have the hearing and potentially award your fees and costs.
If you are litigating in Miami-Dade or Broward Counties, you should be prepared for delays as these Courts are packed. IN order to streamline things, your matter may be referred to a General Magistrate. You have a right to object to those referrals. It is rare that an attorney will offer you a flat fee for a litigated matter as there are too many variables. Will the other side cooperate? If your ex doesn’t cooperate, will the Judge award sanctions? Judges may be ill and unable to appear for a scheduled hearing date. In Broward, unfortunately, we lost a Judge due to her unfortunate passing and her division is still scrambling to accommodate parties and their attorneys.
Many people going through the Family Courts want it over “YESTERDAY.” However, keep in mind that typically the only way to do that is to say yes to everything your ex is seeking and have an uncontested divorce. IT is essential to be patient and strategic. Of course, it is human to be emotional. However, live within your emotional means. Know when to say “no.” Allow yourself to grieve if that is how you feel. Allow yourself to be angry if that is how you feel. If you remain too emotional to make wise decisions, seek help. I have advised many clients that while I can be an okay “ventee,” I am expensive relative to a mental health counselor. It is MORE THAN OKAY TO SEEK HELP. Expect your ex to attempt to get under your skin. If he/she doesn’t, then that is a bonus. Don’t be reactive. You will hear and read things from your ex or the opposing counsel that will upset you. Breathe through it and then choose an appropriate response that is in alignment with your strategy. You don’t have to let them see you sweat.
My last piece of wisdom for this article is to LIVE YOUR LIFE. Don’t let the litigation become your life. Take out your family law file when it’s time to gather records, meet with your attorney or prepare for hearing. When that time is over, please put that file away and take care of you. Take care of your family. Do things you enjoy. You may have less resources, but there are many healthy options, including walking and meditation, that are free.
My team and I love what we do and helping families create new possibilities for a more peaceful future. Please call us at 954-757-5551 for a consultation. If you mention this article, you will RECEIVE 20% OFF the consult. We also do wills and Guardianships. I wish you a fulfilled future. It is possible!