October 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

Every litigant comes to court with problems to solve.  The ones who come away satisfied are not the ones who do the best job painting a picture of the atrocities they have suffered.  The ones who come away satisfied are usually the ones who do a good job painting a picture of the solution.

Imagine a situation at a temporary hearing where dad has left the family and has refused to send any support, but he is demanding custody because mom has a boyfriend who is spending a lot of time around the former marital residence.     

Dad’s side spends its time talking about how sorry mom is for her behavior, and how her bad behavior should not be rewarded with custody. 

Mom offers testimony about: her plan to get the children to school each day; her family in town who will help support her with caring for the children;  how mom’s work schedule will mesh with the children’s schedules; junior’s medication, and her role in administering it, and how aunt Donna will help get him to his doctor’s appointments; her plan to get little Amy to her gymnastics class every Tuesday; and what measures she will take to keep the boyfriend discreetly out of the picture on a temporary basis.  

Put yourself in the judge’s shoes.  He’s confronted with a problem, and one side has served up a platter of solutions, while the other has served up a platter of problems.  The whole reason you’re there is to get the judge to resolve the problems.  One side offers solutions, the other just talks about the problems.  Which side do you think has the better chance to prevail?

The same principle applies in most cases.  If you want the judge to fix visitation, offer a detailed plan (preferably in writing) that tells exactly what you want.  If you want 60% of the marital estate in equitable distribution, why not offer a spreadsheet that spells out precisely what your client would like to have.  If your client wants alimony, why not offer your version of a scoresheet sorting the proof among the Armstrong factors for the judge to consider?         

You will always be at an advantage if you will look at your case from the standpoint of what the judge is called upon to do.  If you will point a clear, logical, reasonable path for the judge that addresses and resolves the problems, you have an excellent chance of prevailing.

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