Setting Reasonable Expectations
One of the most important roles of a lawyer is as an agent of reality. Lawyers should not promise the entire universe when all they can deliver is a marble size rock. Clients should not expect lawyers to do the impossible. Unrealistic expectations are bad and should be avoided.
Clients need to know the likely outcomes of family law matters based on the Texas Family Code and case law, such as parenting plans, standard and expanded standard possession orders, child support guidelines, wage withholding orders, rights and duties and a host of other matters.
If all the retirement was accumulated during the marriage, the retirement is community property and subject to division on divorce. This does not matter if only one spouse has worked and contributed to the retirement plan.
It is much easier for a client if they know what is likely to happen at the beginning of a case, rather than being surprised and disappointed in court when the judge makes a ruling. It is more efficient to negotiate final settlements if the client knows the parameters of the possible outcomes at trial. Additionally, it is easier for a family law client to hear unpleasant news from his or her attorney rather than from the court.
Explaining Alternatives to Full Litigation
Clients should know that there are ways to resolve their issues short of litigation and trial. In family law cases, the parties can participate in the collaborative law process (sometimes referred to as the collaborative divorce process). The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code in the Alternative Dispute Resolution section lists Mediation and Arbitration as alternatives to full litigation. Mediation can be used early in the process, rather than shortly before trial. Explaining these options can bring a huge sense of relief to some clients. Clients should know these alternatives so they can make informed decisions. These alternatives may not be advisable if there has been domestic violence or other issues that would make a cooperative approach inappropriate.
Discouraging Revenge Tactics
Short term satisfaction from acts of revenge is a faulty foundation for long term happiness. Expressing negativity almost never results in improved relationships. Some actions of clients can be illegal, such as certain tape recordings or getting into someone else's computer, cell phone or iPad. Illegally obtained evidence is not admissible and can get a client in big trouble. Clients should consult with their lawyer before they even think about doing certain activities. Clients should not send nasty emails or text messages to their spouse or others. The nasty or unkind email or text can come into evidence and hurt the sender's case.
Clients should hire a good, experienced lawyer, who will not sugar coat matters. The Clients' and lawyers' expectations should be reasonable. Clients and lawyers should listen to each other, be truthful with each other and explore all options. Revenge tactics will hurt you and your case. Clients should ask their lawyers before doing something that will harm the client and their case.
One of the advantages of the Collaborative Divorce process is that it facilitates truthfulness, listening and allows for the exploration of options for the final divorce settlement. At Hiller Law, we believe that every couple needs to explore the collaborative divorce process because it is the best way for most couples to divorce.