While it might be surprising to to read a law firm telling you about circumstances when you may not need an attorney or want to seek court action to respond to a difficulty in your life, it actually serves both the clients’ interests and an attorneys’ interests to consider when court action may not be necessary. The overriding rule is that if a client is going to spend more (time, energy, resources) than they stand to gain, it’s only worth litigating an issue if the principle is important enough that spending additional money on attorneys’ fees and legal costs is justified. Any potential litigation requires an attorney to do a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether the potential benefit of litigation outweighs the potential risk and resources expended.
Sometimes in family law we face issues where attorneys and the courts clearly should not get involved. Cases where two parties who otherwise get along want to fight over a $100.00 piece of furniture (with no sentimental value) that was not disposed of in the property settlement agreement should likely not be addressed by a family law attorney or the courts. Instead, the party feeling wronged by the situation could send a written request (assuming there are not court orders prohibiting such communication) to the other party asking for their portion of the piece. If the other party is not amenable to a proper division of the property, the other party should probably just walk away from the situation. The attorneys’ fees and costs to obtain the party’s portion of the value of the property would likely greatly exceed the value of the piece. Furthermore, if a party brought the other party to court for such an item, the court may grant the other party’s request for attorneys’ fees given that they had to obtain an attorney for an item of such little value.
Family law parties sometimes want to address emotional pain through use of the court system. While emotions often run high in family law cases, it is part of an attorney’s job to advise clients of when their emotions are affecting their ability to make decisions that will best protect the client’s resources. Using litigation to address emotional issues is very rarely an economically sound decision.
Another time you may want avoid litigation is when the potential gain is not great and the potential detriment to the relationship you now share with the other party is likely to be damaged to an extent that it will compromise your ability to cooperate in parenting (or running a business or any other joint venture that outlasts your marriage and benefits from a cooperative relationship with the other party). This often comes up in circumstances where less than perfect compliance with the parenting plan or other court order is performed by one party and the other party is fed up and wants to take legal action to require perfect compliance. In some circumstances, a family law attorney will advise you that it is in your best interest to avoid bringing a legal issue and deal with the annoyance of less-than-purpose compliance.
If you would like to speak with a Seattle area family law attorney about whether your issue should be dealt with using attorney representation and/or court intervention, please contact us. We are happy to work with our family law clients to determine the best way to address their family law issues.