Timing is everything in family law. “The early bird gets the worm,” and “you snooze, you lose,” operate like comandments in our arena.
1) Mom had handled almost all of the case by herself. She had worked her way through discovery, through the appointment and implementation of the Guardian ad Litem and even handled all the motions hearings. Everything was done except for the final trial. Now she knew that she needed counsel. Something about a final trial signaled to her that she was in over her head. Unfortunately, litigation is like a chess game. Every move matters. You really don’t want to wait to bring in the chess experts when all you have left is your King and a Rook. The litigation process had winnowed Mom leaving her no option but capitulation. Check mate was inevitable. And given her opposing counsel, even capitulation would have probably required her head on a platter.
2) Dad had been involved in his children’s lives for years upon years. He and Mom had never been married and he hadn’t ever legitimated his children. He had just enjoyed a mutual understanding with Mom ever since they separated, also, years ago. But more time passed and Mom found someone new, someone who didn’t like Dad’s comfortable mutual understanding with Mom. Mom eventually cut off contact between Dad and children. Dad had called. Dad had complained. Mom had ignored him. Now, he was finally taking matters into his own hands. He was calling an attorney. Unfortunately, it turned out that Mom’s new man had found work in another state and he, Mom and the children had moved there not long after Mom had cut off all contact between Dad and the kids. Eight months had since passed. Georgia had lost authority over the children six months after they had moved away. Now dad was going to have to litigate in another state just to have the right to see his kids.
3) Mom had had it. She and Dad had separated many, many years before but had still not divorced. The children lived with her, always had. Dad helped out a bit here and there. Mom calculated that Dad’s average monthly contribution was around $200.00. When they separated, Dad was earning around $60,000. Now, some 12 years later, Dad was earning around $110,000. Dad’s child support was roughly calculated to be around $1,800. All those years, Dad was paying out roughly $1,600 less than he should have. Mom had had it! She wanted child support and she wanted it retroactively. The only problem is, child support can’t be retroactive. There are other things we can do but making child support retroactive isn’t one of them. Dad was going to be able to walk away from more than $200,000 he should have been paying to support his children.
Timing is critical in every case. In every case! And timing isn’t just about hard deadlines like statutes of limitations or scheduled court appearances. It’s about knowing when to move and when to stand still. Knowing when do to what in litigation is just as critical as getting the timing right in your engine, in catching the perfect wave, it is the difference between a strike and a home run. You time it right, you are a hero. You time it wrong, you are a goat.
The last thing you want to be in litigation is too late.