In this month of ghosts and goblins, I thought it might be appropriate to address some of the pitfalls of family law.  How do cases go from bad to worse???  There are certain things that can scare family law attorneys to death!

1.  Make sure you are providing proper discovery to the other side.  Discovery is what is required at the beginning of a family law case.  It is essential to provide bank records, pay stubs, retirement information, copies of titles, loan information etc. to the other side.  An attorney’s worse nightmare is having a client who tries to “hide” something from the other side.  An example would be not disclosing a certain property that a marital interest is attached to it and hoping the parties won’t notice.  People notice!

2.  Do not think you can secretly cash out your gold coin collection and pocket the money when you know your spouse has an interest in that collection.  My experience is that clients who lie and try to cheat their spouse end of losing big time in the end.  A divorce judgment can be overturned if fraud was involved.  Believe me, Judges are not sympathetic to someone who tries to defraud the spouse!  Attorneys can be disbarred if it can be proven that the attorney knew about the hidden asset.  Most attorneys work diligently to provide the proper discovery so all the cards are on the table.

3.  Get proper evaluations of the personal and real property in the case.  It is scary for a family law attorney to be told that the husband or the wife has determined the real value for the boat based on what an uncle sold his boat for back in New York two years ago.

4.  Do not base your expectations of what kind of money you will get based on what your cousin in Florida got ten years ago in her divorce case.  Every state is different and the laws are changing constantly.  The economy plays a tremendous role.  Spousal support is not going to happen if neither spouse is working.  The money is just not there.  Remember, in divorce you go from one household to support to two households to support.  Everyone’s standard of living goes down.

5.  Missed deadlines can be extremely scary in family law cases.  Attorneys are aware of court dates but it doesn’t hurt for you to keep track as well and call your attorney with regards to a game plan.  Keep in mind that an attorney may have 25 cases going at one time and things can be missed.  Make sure you are your own advocate and are aware of what is happening with your case.

If you are considering divorce or legal separation, please consult a family law attorney who can point you in the right direction and hopefully make the process less “scary”.