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Plan for Today, Tomorrow and the Rest of Your Life.

There is a saying in the legal community that bad facts make bad law. That is because our law is based on a mixture of status (or rules from the legislature) and previous cases which have interpreted those rules. So when cases have bad facts, and those facts are massaged to fit into case law to achieve the judge's desired outcome, which later courts rely on, we wind up with "bad law".

This is also true in each family's case history. Initial determinations by the court can be very important, whether in a divorce, legitimation, or other areas of family law. That first order is critical. The first order from the court can be difficult to alter or overturn. Many people enter into agreements which constitute their first order, and the same strictures apply. That is why it is essential to have an att01ney who can help guide you through the process. You are setting the stage for everything else to come. You want your first step to contemplate your last.

I frequently meet with individuals who were forced into court for a second, third, or fourth time because their original order did not set them up for success. For example, when agreeing to a parenting plan when your child is very young, the visitation schedule will apply, not just for the age they are during the divorce but will live on until your children tum 18 and graduate from high school. So if you enter a visitation order where custody exchanges occur in the 1niddle of the

week and you and your ex-live an hour apart, when it comes time for your child to enter school, you will be forced back into court to determine how to handle the changed (and quite foreseeable) circumstances. And changes are seldom easy - for you, for your child, not even for the Court. It is much better to think ahead, to know the pitfalls, to plan for many contingencies, to predict the future.

As a family law attorney who thinks long term, as we in this Finn are constantly trained to do, it is so frustrating to analyze an order or an agreement from a client's prior case that, while created by an att01ney, clearly had no foresight or made any effort to avoid pitfalls that a competent family law attorney would have routinely anticipated. You must find an attorney who is keenly aware of the issues and can help you make info1med, confident and long term decisions. So while almost every attorney can file a complaint, prepare motions, and argue to a judge -1make sure your attorney is specialized and savvy to fit your needs.

Your family law attorney should be able to get you through, not only . our present court case, but should set you up for your future success, working through and around frequently encountered issues so that you don't have to go back to court every two years.

Plan. Create a road map that works for you today, tomorrow and for the rest of your life. Now that's strategy!

Savannah Steele 

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