I Just Want What I Would Get in Court
- Attorney consultation;
- Financial divorce professional consultation;
- The internet;
- Their friend, hairdresser, cousin, sister or co-worker .
Some are clearly less reliable than others.
In fact, it’s rare for me to see clients who haven’t received some version of what they believe their rights and obligations under the law to be. This information can take on enormous importance to them if they believe it is “the law,” especially if it benefits them. Needless to say, when the information is inaccurate or is based upon a totally different set of facts and circumstances, it can lead to a mindset that is not particularly helpful in mediation.
At my initial consultation, I will let clients know that I want them to have all of the information they need in order to make good decisions, which includes information as to what the law provides.
I also let them know that when I provide legal information, it is based upon a range of circumstances likely to happen if they choose to go to court, emphasizing “likely.” I let them know that their attorneys can apply the same statute to the same set of facts and reach different conclusions, which could possibly both be different from mine.
I often describe the course book from the Annual Update on the Law provided by MatLaw. Recently, I still had the book in my office, since I had just attended the lecture the day before. Instead of describing this volume, I was able to show the clients the 600+ pages in a very small font, describing New York family law cases that had been decided in the past year.
I also let them know that, in terms of what the law provides, many cases reach contradictory results, even though they are based upon the same legal standard. Within that mass of cases, each of their attorneys would be able to find a basis for their conflicting positions.
Given all of that, I only tell clients what I believe is a likely range of outcomes in court. This means that I cannot definitively tell them what they will get if they go to court, but neither can any attorney 100% guarantee the outcome of a court trial.
To avoid being one of those many cases reported in the MatLaw coursebook 2 or 3 years from now, a couple can make an agreement that they believe will be best for them and their family.