Don’t Let Your Support System Fail
When people contemplate divorce they often want their family to involved in the initial consultation. Many times, the family members are assisting in the financial aspect and they want to know the logistics of the case. Great. I have always encouraged clients to have their family ask questions if they didn’t understand the process or wanted to speak to me (with the client’s permission). Or if we have a modification issue and someone is remarried, then the new spouses want to be involved. I understand client’s desire to have a support system.
However, some boundaries need to be set. It is YOUR case. Not your parents. Not your best friend’s. Not your new spouse or partner. Are they looking out for you? Yes, I am sure they are. They love you and want the best for you. However, when the dust settles, it’s you that will live with the results in the case. They aren’t likely to know all the facts of the case and unless they are an experienced family lawyer in Madison County, Alabama, they aren’t going to know the judicial system or the laws that will govern your case.
Who Should You Listen in a Dispute?
For instance, I had a college expense case years ago. The new wife didn’t like the teenage daughter and they wanted to fight tooth and nail not to pay what was Ordered. My client was listening to his wife and wasn’t willing to accommodate his daughter. A few years later, the wife left him. I don’t know what happened to his relationship with his child. Think about why you are pursuing the issues in the case. It is for you? Or does someone else have an agenda that is moving you forward?
Why Your Outcome Matters in a Family Law Case
I’ve seen witness to many family conflicts and I’m referring to those who are on the same side! I was in one trial where my client’s ex-mother- in- law was on the stand yelling at me as I questioned her. She was trying to prevent her son from losing his visitation rights with her grandchild. She was driving the bus in the case. A few years later, the Dad stopped visiting the child. This is not unusual, grandparents want to be able to see their grandkids and many times they want to push custody issues. Before you take on litigation, be clear about what outcome you want. YOU want. Not your family.
In mediations, it’s common for the mediator to set out rules that clients must attend alone. This is to prevent the family members from causing problems with the mediation. I was in a mediation recently with a settlement on the table until my client called her family. Yelling commenced. I left the room and let them fight it out. It caused that agreement to fall apart. Litigation is very stressful for all the parties involved. The best thing you can do is be clear on what you want and appreciate your support system but be clear on your goals.
Having this conversation with your support system can be daunting but even if they are paying your legal fees, it is something you need to discuss. If you are crossways with your support system then it’s no longer an effective support system.