Am I Going to Win?
Win what? It has often been said that no one wins a divorce case. After all, the end result of a divorce is a severance of the family unit. We will do all we can to see that all issues are raised, and forcefully advocated, that your case is structured to your advantage, and that you “lose” as little as possible. Our job is to advance or protect your legitimate claims and interests with zeal and skill. However, if your goal is to punish your spouse or to win by way of an all-out, no-holds-barred victory, then we recommend you retain another law firm, as in most such cases your goal is unattainable.
Many clients see lawyers as gunslingers to venture into a forum where “anything goes.” That is not the case, especially in a small state like Nevada where the Judges know the lawyers and where this firm practices in front of those judges almost daily. The Courts want to follow the law and apply it as fairly as possible; after all, the Judges value their reputation and integrity, also.
The gunslinger image is simply wrong. Note the following from the Rules of Professional Conduct which include the obligation of lawyers:
· To counsel no other actions except those which appear to be legal and just;
· To employ only such means as are consistent with the truth;
· To never mislead judges or juries by any artifice or false statement of fact;
· To advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a witness;
To refrain from bringing or defending cases or assertions or controverting issues unless there is a basis for doing so that is not frivolous;
· To refrain from making false statements of material fact to tribunals;
· To refrain from offering evidence that the lawyer knows to be false;
· To refrain from seeking to influence a judge or a juror by means prohibited by law;
· To refrain from knowingly making false statements of material facts to witnesses; and
· To refrain from using means that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass or burden witness.
This firm enjoys the success it does because we have scrupulously tried to obey our ethical duties. The credibility of our present clients is reinforced by our past years of candor and honesty. We will fight as hard for your rightful share as we can, but only within the rules.
How Long Will It Take?
It is difficult at the onset of a lawsuit to foresee how long it will take to complete. We are better able to give you a range of time after the case has been partially prepared and we understand what is at issue. The time involved is primarily based on three factors:
1. The number and complexity of the contested issues;
2. The intensity of feelings between the parties and whether there is an inclination to settle; and
3. The court’s calendar. A hearing is requested according to the amount of time needed. A brief hearing can usually be scheduled within 60 to 90 days. A full divorce trial, taking a full day or more, usually must be scheduled six months to one year in advance.
By far, the factor which makes lawsuits last longer is the intensity of the feelings between the parties and how much the parties want to fight.
How Much Will It Cost?
It is difficult to make a realistic estimate of the total fee until we know what issues will be contested and the intensity of the parties’ feelings. The parties, not the lawyers, determine the amount of attorneys fees in their case. If the parties want to settle, make compromises, and end the matter quickly, they can do so. If the parties do not trust each other, want to complete discovery of all assets and liabilities, and argue many issues to the bitter end, no matter what the issue is, the process becomes very long, drawn out and expensive. Going to trial is almost always more expensive than settling the lawsuit.
When we discuss “expensive,” you should be aware that you will pay three ways-with your time, the hole in your stomach, and the hole in your pocketbook.
1. Time. You will have to spend your time to prepare your lawsuit. Your spouse does not prepare your lawsuit; your spouse’s attorney does not prepare your lawsuit. Your attorney prepares your lawsuit. We do that with your help. You must make a commitment to put time into your case. It takes hard work. If you are not prepared to spend the time and do the work, then your case will not be as satisfactorily or inexpensively prepared as it would be if you made the expenditure of time.
2. The Hole in Your Stomach. Many health professionals will tell you that experiencing a divorce is one of the most painful things you will endure. Your emotions will likely roller-coaster. It is unusual for both parties to have the same degree of emotion over ending the relationship and, therefore, one party is very often emotionally hurt along the way. We know that one party is usually the initiator who has worked through the hurt and grief caused by the end of the relationship even before the other party is aware something in the relationship is wrong. If you are not the initiator (no matter who the legal plaintiff may be), then the path toward knowledge and acceptance of the end of the relationship must still be traveled. If that is you, then divorce can be an extremely painful process, which is one reason we strongly recommend counseling. If it is not, you may have an angry and irrational spouse to deal with in the legal arena. Doing emotional (and financial) business through lawyers is the most expensive (and perhaps least productive) method.
The more issues raised, the more painful the process and the more ways to drag out the matter and punish the opposing party. You should be aware of this, and we will call this to your attention when we see this happening. We strongly urge you to read Diane Vaughn’s book Uncoupling to gain insight into the process which ends relationships. At our initial interview we should give you a copy of the book, but if we do not, please ask. You may suggest that your spouse read the book, too. Our clients have uniformly praised it.
3. The Hole in Your Pocketbook. Because preparing and trying a lawsuit is very expensive, we want you to scrutinize the issues at an early stage and determine what issues can be settled. We do not recommend making unreasonable or unnecessary concessions, but we recommend you look carefully at the issues that separate you and your spouse. You do exercise some control over issues and so if there are concessions you can make that will bring your case to a speedy conclusion and thus reduce your fees, please consider making them. You should weigh the price that you pay with your time, the hole in your stomach and the hole in your pocketbook to determine whether certain issues are worth litigation.
The attorney sells his or her time. If you can save the attorney time by doing some of the spadework, then your money will be more efficiently used.
4. The Other Hole in Your Pocketbook. Because preparing and trying a lawsuit is emotionally and financially draining, your spouse may try to bully you by taking extremely litigious and contrary positions. Settlement demands may be so unreasonable that you must simply endure the hardship and fight for a just and fair result. While the costs of litigation may be great in the short run, what your spouse demands to avoid them may be just too much. By definition, a divorce will involve your livelihood and your fortune (and if you have them, your priceless children), and that is something worth fighting for. By being reasonable yourself and understanding our advice, you may have to make the decision to resist being tyrannized or blackmailed. Being willing to go to court to protect your rights is not the same as being greedy or unreasonable. If you are advised your position is reasonable and your spouse’s position is unfair, you should be ready to do what you have to do to protect your legitimate interests.