Want to settle your Family Court case? Never use the past tense.

The four-way conference: a meeting of the parties and their attorneys to analyze and address the issues and concerns of a case, can (if done correctly) be an effective tool in resolution, or at least pruning a matter down to its core issues. That’s if it is done right. If the parties use the meeting as a Jerry Stiller-style airing of grievances – real, exaggerated, and imagined – then expect a long, fruitless meeting. Expect your attorney to check her twitter account. Nothing will get done. Which is an expensive way to spend your retainer. (Best to do your yelling and name-calling out of court, when you’re not getting charged). A conference of mine was quickly lapsing into a rock fight like this (one party insisting the other was, and I quote, “a ballbag”) when I proposed a simple rule. We would discuss anything either party wanted to – but no one was allowed to speak in the past tense. By the time parties to a divorce or child custody case have gotten to court the crimes and cruelties they have perpetrated upon one another (and, indirectly, their children) shock the conscience. And there is no true remedy for it in the Family Court. Make no mistake.  You’re not in Family Court to be made whole for being wronged. You’re in Family Court to figure out the rest of your life, not to remedy the past twelve months. Leave the past where it is. If the parties insist on clinging to the past, petty spites nothing will get accomplished. Want to make your family law matter end quickly, inexpensively, and with as little stress as possible? Be willing to come to the table, leave the past where it is, and plan your future.

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