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The Wisest Course—Managing Roadblocks

Volume 40, Issue 3  


Litigation & Trials

Pro Se Roadblocks: How to Get Around Them

The do-it-yourself wave has hit the legal system. Nationwide, family courts are seeing an increase in self-represented, or “pro se,” litigants. Whether by need or by desire, a great number of potential clients are now electing to represent themselves in family matters. While self-represented clients may seem to represent a threat to the legal profession’s pecuniary interests, it is important to treat these litigants with respect and empathy.


The Difficult Client

A law practice is a relationship-oriented business. Family law however, often forges intimate relationships, as every aspect of clients’ lives can be brought into the legal arena. The “difficult” client, one with pre-existing problems handling life prior to the breakdown of a family or one having an emotional breakdown because of unresolved family conflict, can leave many of us wishing we could divorce our clients. Sometimes we do and sometimes we do not but should do so.

Trial Practice

Tactful Tactics: How to Find Your Way around Court-Imposed Roadblocks

Domestic relations attorneys live, perhaps more than any other lawyers, in an environment closely controlled by the judge on the case. As the court almost always has the power to be the final decision-maker, attorneys have to be mindful of the judge’s procedural demands in an effort to not prejudice their client’s substantive positions. That environment makes dealing with court-imposed roadblocks a more difficult calculation, one requiring subtlety and thought. The following are some common roadblocks and potential solutions.


Overcoming Roadblocks to Reaching Settlement in Family Law Cases

Although most cases eventually settle without trial, the negotiation process often is not pretty. In “litigation as usual,” settlement often comes only after adversarial posturing, the original conflict escalates, the relationships deteriorate, the process takes too long and costs too much, and nobody is really happy with the resolution. This article describes roadblocks to negotiation and ways to overcome them to reach good settlements in family law cases.


Could Your Divorce Fees Be Impacted by Your Client's Bankruptcy Filing?

It has become increasingly common for spouses planning a divorce to be advised to commence a joint Chapter 7 liquidating bankruptcy case prior to obtaining a divorce decree to wipe out their unsecured, dischargeable debt before their remaining property and debt obligations are allocated in a final dissolution decree. While a bankruptcy filing might be in your client’s best interests, it might bring unwanted scrutiny to your own fees.


The Bankruptcy Stay as a Roadblock, and How to Overcome It

Your opponent calls to say that her client has filed a bankruptcy petition. You call your client. She wants to know whether she can change her mind and resurrect the settlement offer which she had rejected before the bankruptcy. You make a call to your friend the bankruptcy lawyer. Your friend says that you are probably entitled to relief from stay, that any settlement must be approved by the bankruptcy judge, and that the retirement funds and other assets your client owes to the bankrupt spouse might be distributed to his creditors instead of to him.


The Curvy Road of Enforcement: Keep Driving and Avoid the Roadblocks

Roadblocks: whether manmade construction barriers or fallen trees resulting from acts of nature, few are so indestructible, immovable, or unnavigable that one’s destination cannot, ultimately, be reached. How and how quickly roadblocks can be removed (or circumnavigated) is a function of the people and resources available. The people and resources in the judgment enforcement arena are fundamentally rooted in promoting compliance with court process, orders, and judgments.

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From the Editor in Chief

From the lawyer’s perspective, handling a domestic relations case from start to finish could be likened to a reality show contest that involves traversing an obstacle course in which it is necessary to navigate over, around, or through a series of roadblocks. While there are no celebrity judges or call-in votes, what we do as practitioners also requires the ability to identify the nature of the various roadblocks and devise strategies for overcoming them. Unlike the situation faced by the reality show contestants, in our practice, there are some roadblocks that can be overcome and others where the wisest course of action may be to avoid beating a dead horse and acknowledge that certain barriers are insurmountable. The trick is to know which is which.

Editorial Board

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