There are a number of conflict resolution strategies that can help minimize the contentiousness of family law cases—divorce, child custody, child support, etc. Having a lawyer who is willing and skilled at negotiations and opting for mediation and/or arbitration can spare you significant expense and emotional stress.
However, not all disputes between parties can be resolved outside of court. When you must go on to have a judge determine the outcome of your case, you need the help of a skilled family law trial attorney. But how can you find one? What qualities should you be looking for?
Qualities of an Excellent Trial Lawyer
Family lawyers may have different strengths—some may be specially trained to be members of a collaborative divorce team or serve as neutral mediators or arbiters. But if your contested divorce leads to court, you want a family law attorney with the experience and skills necessary to win the best outcomes for you and your child(ren) and advocate your cause. A trial lawyer you want on your side should possess:
An In-Depth Understanding of Family Law and Case Precedent
Judge Roderic Duncan, a family law judge in California, blogged the following advice to those going through divorce: “don’t get hung up on fairness.” Trials are not about figuring out what is fair. Trials are about applying the laws as they are written and past precedent to the case before him/her. To be effective in trial, then, a lawyer must know statutory laws and precedents on which judgments are based. Lawyers who have dedicated their practice to family law, rather than dabbling in a wide array of practice areas, will have a better grasp of Colorado statutes and the supporting case law.
Excellent Research and Organizational Skills
Because Colorado is a no-fault state, family lawyers do not have to prove that one party was at fault for the failure of the marriage or that there exists any kind of misconduct. However, in the course of a contested divorce, parties are required to produce information about their financial assets and debts. In an effort to minimize property lost through equitable division and/or spousal support or child support payments, parties may hide assets. An effective family lawyer must possess the research skills and investigative resources to uncover hidden accounts and assets, if possible. In addition, the attorney must also have reliable experts to refer to. Oftentimes, the hiring of a skilled forensic accountant is needed to verify and establish marital finances.
In addition to financial investigations, attorneys will gather information regarding a party’s history with domestic violence, military service, parenting plans, etc. All this information must be documented and organized in order to be useful during hearings, settlement conferences and mediations.
An Ability to Creatively Solve Problems and Effectively Negotiate
Some lawyers may not be able to “think outside the box.” If a dispute arises during a divorce, they may be limited in their ability to resolve the conflict—either give in (settle) or go to court. Unfortunately, a lawyer who lacks imagination when it comes to conflict resolution, in general, is unlikely to be able to offer any creative solutions to specific issues—such as visitation schedules or dividing seemingly indivisible assets (e.g., furniture or retirement plans).
An effective trial lawyer is one who has many years of experience, who can identify potential issues early and look for creative solutions, engaging their client in those strategies which will yield the best outcome. Once the lawyer and client have reached an agreement on a strategy or solution, a good trial attorney must be persuasive in his/her presentation of the proposed strategy during negotiations so as to avoid inflaming the dispute or over-compromising.
Excellent Trial Skills
Trial skills arise from a solid understanding of the rules of evidence and the art of trial advocacy. No lawyer can effectively present your case and gain the trust of a judge if he or she does not follow proper protocol. But it takes more than knowing the general order of operations, so to speak.
Trial skills entail “soft skills,” qualities that you only recognize when absent—for instance, confidence, composure under pressure, the ability to think on your feet and adeptness as reading people. It takes many years of experience in a courtroom to develop successful and persuasive trial skills. It is important, however, to distinguish between trial skills and ego. Ego may parade a confidence and composure, but a lawyer’s ego resists departing from a course of action in response to changes in situation or circumstances, which can bode very poorly for clients.
Many of the qualities of a successful trial lawyer actually help keep family law cases from going to court. And successful negotiations and conflict resolution strategies like mediation and arbitration can spare clients a lot of expense and emotional stress.
Excellent Colorado Springs Family Trial Lawyer
Gordon N. Shayne has the qualities you are looking for in an excellent trial lawyer. Mr. Shayne has dedicated his practice to Colorado family law. His entire professional career of over 33 years has been dedicated to being a persuasive advocate on behalf of his clients. He is well-versed in statutory law and case law; he will not make promises he cannot deliver but will provide honest counsel and present all conflict resolutions options available to you so that you can decide on what course of action best suits your situation. An educated client is always a well-served client.
Mr. Shayne strives to spare his clients the expense and stress of trial, but if a judge’s determination is the only way to resolve a contested divorce, he will develop an effective strategy and has the trial skills and experience necessary to achieve the best outcomes.
For a consultation with an experienced Colorado family law attorney, please contact the Law Office of Gordon N. Shayne.
Disclaimer: The blogs posted on ShayneLaw.com are offered for informational purposes only. These blogs are not a solicitation for legal business and should not be construed as providing any legal advice or legal opinions as to any specific fact or circumstance. Specific legal issues, concerns and conditions always require the advice of an appropriate legal professional. To obtain legal advice or opinions about Colorado family law, personally consult with a licensed Colorado attorney.