Posts Tagged ‘Family Law Strategy’

Every family law case should begin with a strategy. An experienced family law/divorce attorney will listen carefully and work with you to develop and implement a strategy that takes into account  the current situation, your goals and objectives, information about your spouse and the realities of the court in which your case will be heard.  Are you on the offense or defense?  Should you be the first to file or should you let your spouse make the first move? Should you push hard for a negotiated settlement? Or leave matters for the Judge to decide?

Beware of any attorney that has a one size fits all answer – such as “always be the first to file beacuse you  are the plaintiff and present your case first” or that “you should surprise and intimidate the other party”. 

Cases are different and what may be a successful strategy in one situation could be a disaster in the next.  A good family law attorney will move the case in the right direction for you!

Kevin and Donna are in the early stages of divorce proceedings. Kevin is 32 and Donna is 28, and they have three children, ages 3, 5 and 7. Kevin alleges that, over the past couple of months, Donna has introduced the children to her boyfriend, confusing the kids by calling him their new daddy. Kevin feels that this undermines his position as their father and that Donna is attempting to drive a wedge between him and the children. For his part, while Kevin has casually dated a couple of women including a co-worker, he has deliberately kept his dates separate from his family and has not introduced nor even mentioned them to the kids. What recourse does Kevin have?

Although judges tend to vary significantly on this issue, most judges will prohibit a party to a divorce from exposing the children to a third party romantic relationship while the divorce is pending. This can make it very difficult for a party to a divorce who is residing with or spending a substantial amount of time with his/her new boyfriend/girlfriend. In fact, many times the other party will use the relationship to make it more difficult for the romantically involved spouse to exercise their visitation rights. This occurs particularly often when a spouse is angry and vindictive and often exacerbates the difficulties between the parties.

For these and a variety of other reasons, if possible it is highly advisable to avoid exposing children to new romantic partners and relationships while the divorce is still “fresh”. Often these relationships do not turn out to be long term relationships and they usually create ill will and bad feelings between the parties. Even if the children are not exposed to the third party romantic relationship, it is advisable to keep these relationships low key to avoid angering the other spouse, enflaming the situation and creating greater difficulties in the process of divorce.

Be wary of advice such as always file first, always get a restraining order – or – you always should try to have an amicable divorce. Advice which may make perfect sense in one situation may be a disaster in another. As you are working toward that amicable divorce, your spouse might be quietly hiding assets – or – that restraining order might unnecessarily jeopardize the employment of your spouse. In short, each situation should be analyzed on its own merit. What has been your spouse’s history? Does your spouse usually follow rules? Is your spouse someone who has real violent tendencies – or – Is this a situation where your spouse is temporarily stressed? What is your spouse’s relationship with your children?

What are your goals and objectives? Given the particular circumstances of your individual case, what strategy makes sense for you? Discuss your options in detail with your divorce attorney.

Usually divorce clients are seeking advice regarding what they should do in a divorce. But there are ten things you should NOT do.

1. Do not sign anything just because your spouse says you should. Always have any documents reviewed by your legal counsel.

2. Prior to the divorce, do not panic, do not make any major decisions or take any actions (such as leaving the marital home) without first consulting legal counsel.

3. Do not discuss the divorce with the children; however, you shouldn’t hide the divorce from your children, either. They will be sensitive to the situation, and honesty is the best policy with them. Let them know that the divorce is not their fault in any way, and that you and your spouse have your own issues to cope with.

4. Likewise, do not use your kids as “go-betweens” or in any way put them in the middle of the conflict. Do not bad mouth your spouse to your kids.

5. Although you may feel deeply violated and wronged in the marriage, do not threaten your spouse with vindictive claims like “You’ll never see our kids again!” or “I’ll take you for everything you’re worth!” Instead, take the high road and let your attorney and the court work to resolve all issues.

6. Do not agree to capitulate and surrender everything just because you want to get out of the marriage as quickly as possible, or because you still love your spouse and you think that by giving in, he or she will not go through with the divorce.

7. No matter how well-intended or similar to your situation a friend’s experience may be, do not take your friend’s advice as legal counsel. Only a qualified attorney is in a position and has the wide experience needed to give the best legal advice.

8. Do not procrastinate: the temptation to remain in the situation you know, however unpleasant, can keep you from getting out from under a dysfunctional marriage. Remember that staying put is much easier than making a major life change, but that that change may be what is best for you in the long haul.]

9. Do not overlook the small things, however insignificant they may seem, may be important later: make duplicates of the family album, videos of the kids playing, or other small, personal items, so that neither of you feels cheated. Buy duplicate CDs or other items that are deeply sentimental for both of you.

10. Do not complain to your family and friends about your insufferable marriage or how horrid your spouse is.

The information contained in this blog is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. The use of this Blog does not create an attorney/client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Barry R. Lewis. If you are considering divorce or if you are involved in any legal matter, you should hire an attorney.

Massachusetts Divorce and Family Law
Attorney Barry R. Lewis — Divorce Law Specialist
Locations Throughout Eastern & Central Massachusetts :: 508-879-3262