If you practice family law in South Carolina, then you’ve been introduced to these three specters seated between your client and you inside a family courtroom or at the mediator’s table. They are your three worst enemies in a courtroom or at your clients’ mediation, and you’ll never beat them…unless, that is, you’re clever enough and insightful enough to realize you were the one who invited them to this party…or you did nothing to prevent their attending.
They will stand in the way of your conversations with your clients. They will prevent all manner of rational and reasonable settlement discussions. Like a poltergeist, they will whisper controversy in your client’s ear and interfere with the presentation of your case. They will cause you to be second-guessed by everyone inside the courtroom – the judge, the other attorney(s), your own client. You will become victimized by them, vilified by them, cursed by them. You may even lose sleep over them and, perhaps worse, you will certainly lose money (not make money) because of them.
And this will happen in every divorce case you accept and in every divorce case you will mediate or litigate.
Let me introduce you to The Three Horsemen of The Family Court.
Seated to your right is Animosity – Horseman Number One. I’m sure the two of you have met…many times. Animosity drove your client to your office. It introduced your client to you, and, in fact, during your initial interview, Animosity was the voice of your client. Animosity answered all of your questions, and when, in responding to your client’s/Animosity’s questions, you said all the right things (necessary to fuel that emotion), Animosity convinced your client to pay you a retainer fee. It didn’t matter to you at the time whether you would be clever enough in the end to protect your client’s financial future and his/her interest in obtaining child-related relief.
The problem is this: Animosity doesn’t give a damn about those things. Continue reading