Modern Family Law
If you are going through a divorce or other family law case in Florida, there are a few things you should know about the process. First and foremost, you should avoid going to trial. For some people, this may sound counter-intuitive. You may think "aren't my children worth fighting for?" Or, "shouldn't I get half of everything?" The answer is yes to both, but a qualified yes. Asking the court to permanently terminate or heavily restrict timesharing is almost never a good idea, according to the consensus of most child psychologists and legal scholars today. It is something that the court should avoid doing if possible. If you are dissolving a marriage, then you are entitled to half of the marital assets, but you also must assume half of the marital debt. Depending on the length of the marriage, you may be entitled to a reasonable amount of alimony. However, alimony must be reasonable and equitable according to certain benchmarks.
Only 4% of Florida Family Law Cases Result in a Trial
These days, only 4% of family law cases ever go to trial. That is due to a lot of different factors. First and foremost, a divorce trial is expensive, really expensive. Second, a family law trial will put a lot of your private information into the public domain, which some people find embarrassing. The result is that, most of the time, family law cases are resolved without a trial. That means that most of the time, a good family law attorney is a transactional lawyer who assists his or her clients to make a deal with the other party. A good attorney's goal should be to help fashion a mutually beneficial agreement between the parties. If the parties have children, then a good attorney’s primary goal will be to help the parents fashion a parenting agreement in a manner that minimizes conflict. A good family law attorney is a facilitator, and not an impediment to resolution.
Be Mindful of All of the Costs of Going to Trial
Generally speaking, only reckless clients want to go to trial. If you “insist” on going to trial yourself, or you refuse to settle your case through negotiation or mediation, you likely have no attorney at all, or you likely have an attorney who has lost control of your case. The odds overwhelmingly show that a good family law attorney will take a reality-based approach to your case. He or she will emphasize the basic family law philosophy that amicable resolution should be your ultimate goal. A good family law attorney will focus on the idea of reaching a reasonable final resolution with the other party. Finally, a good attorney will be conservative about his or her projections regarding what can be accomplished in court.
Especially when the parties have children, the best results occur when the parents emerge from the dissolution process with a good working relationship. If the parties do not reach an amicable resolution and must go to trial, they are not likely to be able to have a working relationship after the trial is over. They are also more likely to return to court for post-judgment matters, and continuing a conflict that is detrimental to the children. You may perceive that going to court will provide you with a certain amount of “fairness and justice” which proves you are “right” and the other guy is “wrong.” However, the best divorce lawyers will explain to you that the court system is designed to resolve disputes, not label people good or bad, or dispense justice. A judge is a stranger who has been appointed to make life-long decisions for you, which you cannot make yourself. Some people prefer not to leave those decisions up to a stranger.
Trials Don't Solve Problems
The best family law attorneys will advise their clients that divorce court does not solve individual or family problems. It is always better for the parties to preserve their personal power and maintain control over their own lives rather than delegate that power and control to a stranger judge. Especially when the parties have children, a final order simply forces the parties to follow orders rather than allowing the family to develop their own style of raising a child or children. Jackson Hilliard believes that as a family law attorney, his role is to guide his clients through the legal process, and not just be another Tampa lawyer who profits from high conflict. His goal is to try to find a way through the family law system that allows the parties to function after the dissolution of marriage and firmly believes that it is in the best interests of the parties, including the children, to be in the 96% majority of cases that get resolved without a trial.