In Family Law cases, particularly those involving Divorce or Child Custody, clients often seek out one of two styles of representation. There is the aggressive, take no prisoners approach,symbolized here by the shark – a lawyer with sharp teeth, aimed at the former spouse. Other clients, with less appetite for battle, prefer an attorney who is a peacemaker, symbolized by the Dove and Olive Branch.
The truth is somewhere between these two extremes. Winning too big a victory has its costs. In a child custody case, victory might leave in its wake bitterness, hard feelings, and lead to the estrangement of a child from one (or both) of the parents.
Ending the battle has benefits for the parties in a divorce: they can get on with their lives. Clients should know that fighting is usually more expensive than settling.
The other extreme – settling at any cost – is also an unattractive proposition. If one party is being unreasonable, compromise won’t work. No one wants to be the only one to give in, or to make too many concessions financially, or otherwise.
Family Law cases involve human emotions. It is not unusual for the client’s emotions to change as the case goes on. Someone who blames him or herself for the end of their marriage, might initially want to agree to “anything” the other spouse wants. A few month’s later, when they decide that their spouse wants the elevator, and they are getting the shaft, they’ll wish they hired a fighter rather than a peacemaker.
Ideally, a lawyer should be capable of fulfilling both tasks: settling the cases that should be settled, and fighting the battles that are necessary.