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Family Law: All In Good Time

You know the saying, "Time heals all wounds." While that isn't absolute, it is generally true. The passage of time makes conduct fade into the past, less important and less significant. This is never more true than in family law.

The life of a family law case has fairly concrete stages. There is the stage where the case is filed, the stage where a temporary hearing is heard, the stage where discovery is conducted, the stage where mediation is held and a final stage where the trial occurs. These stages take place largely in this order and are fairly reliable bench marks for the progress of the case. However, the case does have an end. Usually that end is not forever away (though it may feel like it).

Not so for life. Relatively speaking, life goes on long after the case is over. Long after the attorneys stop battling and the judge stops judging, life continues and the once warring parties have to settle into a new routine, children still go to school, bills still have to be paid, the sun still rises and sets. If you put the time-line of a divorce or other family law case along side a time-line of life, you would see that the latter far outstrips the former.

So why, in a family law case, does anyone make their decisions based upon what is going on in the case and not what will continue to go on in life? Not only is that short-term thinking, but it is destructive, costly and pointless short-term thinking.

There is another saying, "Past performance is the best predictor of future conduct." Pretty much without fail, how people have managed their lives before their family law case began is how they will manage them afterwards. After their case is over and they no longer have to perform for the judge, they will revert to old patterns. It is who they are. It is how they operate. Family law cases are not so significant as to alter a person's fundamental nature.

Finally, one last saying, "Water always flows downhill." You want to be the most productive and efficient in a family law case? Figure out what has been going on and let it happen. Give it a structure, "good fences build good neighbors," (okay, that was another saying), but don't try to alter the course of mighty rivers or create a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

I really apologize for that last one.

Just get out of the way and, as Elsa says, "Let it go."

Michael Manely

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