LEGAL MISTAKES THAT PEOPLE MAKE
Mistake 1: Believing the other side will be fair and cooperative.
Most people in our office are emotionally vulnerable and upset. Many are in a state of denial. “He/she would never treat me this way” is a sentiment we hear all too often. But, lo and behold, spouses do mistreat each other. Our advice: Look out for what is important to you and expect your spouse to do the same. Once you’re involved in a court case, you’re part of an adversarial system. We advise an attitude of cautious pessimism and lowered expectations.
Mistake 2: Having totally unrealistic expectations or demands of what you will gain.
Too many people enter legal proceedings and expect that they will get everything that they want. Too often, those demands are exaggerated. Since finances, children, property, a business, and/or retirement funds are in dispute, you need to make your demands reasonable. Do not expect that you’ll get everything. The key in approaching divorce is to have realistic expectations and focus on problem solving (not blame).
Mistake 3: Not asking appropriate questions or signing documents without asking questions.
Many people are intimidated by the legal system and their attorneys. Instead of asking questions, they accept everything on blind faith. Ask as many questions about your settlement as you would if you were buying an automobile. Be thoughtful, skeptical and analytical. Ask us for an honest evaluation of what your chances are to obtain assets, home and money. Figure out what you want.
Mistake 4: Withholding information from your attorney.
Some people do not trust their attorneys. They withhold information about future plans or financial assets. If you want us to do an effective job, we need the whole truth.
Mistake 5: Not checking facts or figures given to you by attorneys and others.
Attorneys make mistakes, too. Read all documents, motions, and briefs thoroughly to ensure accuracy.
Mistake 6: Allowing emotions rather than logic to rule your decisions.
Many people going through legal proceedings are emotionally frazzled and distraught. They think they are 100 percent right, and they have been victimized by an evil person. If you let your emotions gain control, rather than reason and logic, you will undermine your case. Instead, become reflective rather than reactive. Anxious people often don’t hear correctly, nor articulate well.
Mistake 7: Expecting the legal system to be fair.
Fair is a four-letter “F” word. No matter how much you think you are right, the Judge can see issues from another viewpoint. Because of procedural rules, Judges often rule on limited information. They don’t care if you’re nice. Don’t expect that your viewpoint, no matter how noble and just, will prevail. The more skeptical and balanced you are, the better you can problem-solve and obtain the most favorable outcome.
Mistake 8: Not following deadlines and allowing too much time to pass.
Too many people going through legal proceedings do not want to be bothered by rules and court deadlines. When papers need to be signed and/or filed, they postpone. Making sure documents are signed and/or filed in a timely way is a way of maintaining your rights and ensuring you get what you deserve.
Mistake 9: Being a hindrance, not a help, to your case.
Your goal should be to do everything in your power to assist your case and support, not hinder, your attorney. Be proactive. Ask your attorney how you can best assist them. Find out what documents you will need to provide in the future and begin to gather them. Respond to inquiries from your attorney in a timely fashion, just as you expect them to do. Meet deadlines. Your attorney can’t meet Court opposed deadlines unless you meet yours. Take notes. This is a highly emotional time, and your memory will play tricks on you. By writing things down, you can refresh your recollection regarding what your attorney asked you or told you during your office or telephone conferences.