For couples going through a divorce, the process is never a walk in the park. It is emotionally challenging and extremely draining for all involved. While some divorce settlements can be agreed upon amicably and are uncontested, others are fuelled with anger and resentment between the two spouses, leading to high conflict throughout the legal process. Beyond the grief of divorcing their partner, the negativity of anger and conflict can be exhausting and complicated for clients to navigate the legal process alone. For this reason, many couples going through a separation choose to appoint a divorce attorney that knows and understands the principles of US family law.
The lawyer’s role is to minimize the damage of the divorce process and secure the best outcome for their client at this difficult time. With issues such as child custody, property division, and alimony being agreed in the divorce settlement, the outcome of a case can drastically affect the future life of the client. In this article, we will describe our top tips on how to win a divorce case in court.
6 Divorce Tactics to Win a Case
1. Establishing a Solid Defence
In highly contested divorces, both spouses will have a reason why they believe the courts should agree in their favor. Since the accounts of both spouses are typically opposites from one another, one approach could be to dig deeper and formulate a solid defense against anything the opposition could throw your way. If you decide to take this stance, it will require extensive work before the trial. You will need to gather as much evidence as possible so that regardless of the facts presented by the other party, you can provide a logical explanation.
Often, the opposition will make outlandish claims against your client in an attempt to sway the judge in their favor. This can be infuriating, however, proper preparation can actually turn this into a positive dimension of your case. By disproving any of the opposition’s claims, you can immediately cause the judge to cast doubt on anything the other party says is true. Your argument will become more believable, thus there are better chances of a successful resolution for your client. Using this approach you can also challenge the credibility of any sources used by the opposing legal team to sway the courts in your favor.
2. Forming an Attack Theory
Rather than a defensive method, you could take a more forceful approach towards winning your client’s case. The courts will already be aware of the reason for the divorce thanks to the initial separation documents sent to the courts at the beginning of the divorce proceedings. These documents provide the courts with comprehensive information on the relationship, both of the partners, and the reason for the separation. However, explaining these in detail during the trial with evidence of each cliam will strengthen your case.
For example, if there are facts that prove injustice between spouses – such as the other spouse having an affair, having violent tendencies, or previous substance abuse – these can be used as grounds to influence the court’s decision in your favor. Pointing to, and proving these reasons, is seen as an attacking approach. Instead of defending your client against attacks from the other side, you are working to point out the downfalls and mistakes made by the opposition. This approach is particularly useful in child custody cases, as the jury will always rule in favor of what is best for the children involved.
3. Building a Compelling Story
As a divorce attorney, winning a divorce trial can be as simple as ensuring your client’s narrative is more believable and compelling than their spouse’s. Essentially, the outcome of the trial will depend on which of the spouse’s stories the judge most buys into the most. Your goal is to ensure the judge believes that your client has suffered unfairly. In its most basic form, this strategy aims to win the heart of the court to allow your client to win their case. Regardless of whether you are taking an attacking or defensive approach, building an emotional connection with the judge or jury is also essential.
When building a compelling story, you should ensure that it aligns with any credible facts available in the case. This makes certain that the story is believable by the courts. If, however, the courts can see through facts presented in the story of your client’s case, they will not establish a connection with your client. Therefore, you must bear this in mind when trying to evoke emotion from the courts. Angling the story to portray your client as the victim will help to win the courts over and increase the chances that they will rule in your favor.
3. Dissipating Any Anger
Many divorce cases begin in high conflict. Emotions tend to control the actions of both spouses and they base their requests for the divorce settlement on their feelings, rather than using reason to determine their needs. Often, initial decisions in the divorce process are based on seeking instant gratification, rather than logically thinking through the best outcome for everyone involved. Therefore, another approach to win a divorce case is to help dissipate your client’s anger. To do so, you need to make your client feel secure and relaxed. Once they feel they are in a safe space, your client can focus on the real issues and be able to find more productive solutions, rather than the emotions of the divorce itself.
Finding a more positive space for your client to work from not only results in a better long-term outcome that benefits everyone, but it will also make it more likely that your client will behave in an appropriate manner. Throughout divorce proceedings, ensuring your client remains respectful towards their ex-spouse can contribute significantly to swaying the court’s decision. Besides, by dissipating any anger, both clients may end up being happy with the divorce settlement without even needing to go to trial. Even if your client pursues going to court to decide on the divorce settlement, the share of property, finances and assets they are seeking will likely be reduced.
5. Rehabilitating Your Client
If you are working with a client who has shortcomings that could damage their case, winning the divorce trial will be more difficult. According to a study, one spouse’s shortcomings, such as alcohol or drug addiction, a violent history, mental health issues, or anger management, are actually the most common reasons for a spouse to seek a divorce from their partner. If your client has any of these as part of their history, or as part of the reasons for divorce, the opposition will most likely attempt to use these “weaknesses” against your client so the courts agree on a settlement that best suits their client.
In these cases, divorce tactics change to win focus on proving to the courts that your client is prepared to and is in the process of changing for the better. By rehabilitating your client, such as them voluntarily attending therapy or recovery programs, you have a higher chance of a fair settlement. However, when negotiating child custody, parents with shortcomings such as those listed are unlikely to win custody. Still, by taking steps towards a better future, your client is more likely to gain some parental rights and limited custody with the child’s best interests at heart.
On average, the resolution of an uncontested divorce takes approximately three months. Of course, this will vary depending on the circ...
6. Negotiating the Agreement
Winning a divorce case does not always mean getting the courts to agree to all the requests of one spouse. Often, there will be an ongoing negotiation to find a compromise between the two opposing sides in a collaborative settlement. In fact, negotiating a favorable resolution is one of the best avenues a divorce lawyer can take in an unwinnable case, such as the one where your client has shortcomings as mentioned above.
By approaching the opposing client and legal team with an offer they are unlikely to turn down, this can still be seen as a “win” for your client. The compromise allows you and your client to retain control over the settlement, while keeping the financial and emotional costs of legal fees and emotional stress to a minimum. Many people also agree that a divorce settlement that does not require a trial, beats the financial costs and emotional turmoil of a divorce case going to trial. If you believe the case is unwinnable in court, retaining control by proposing a settlement offer rather than handing it over to the jurisdiction is likely to achieve a better result for your client.
All family lawyers need to know how to win a divorce case in court. Though it may be possible to settle the case before going to trial, many separations will end up playing out in front of a judge or jury. As a divorce attorney, choosing the best strategy can drastically sway the opinion of the courts in your client’s favour. Doing so holds weight on every divorce-related issue, including the division of assets and property, payment of alimony, and child custody decisions. Since each case is unique, it is important to ensure that you look at all the facts and formulate an appropriate response based on the suggestions listed in this article.
If you are going through a marital separation yourself, we always recommend appointing a divorce lawyer to represent you and your interests. Even if the divorce is uncontested, there may be issues that arise. It is always best to appoint a professional who can navigate this difficult time into a legally binding agreement that works for everyone involved.