2.  Understand how the law applies to your case.

Knowledge is power.  This truism is such a crucial part of getting to a successful resolution in a divorce case.  As I get introduced to a client and their unique situation, I will always take all the time needed to explain the legal process first and most importantly each and every aspect of the law as it applies to their respective case.  It is important for an attorney to continue to be a scholar and study how the law can evolve and change through new statutes passed in Raleigh/Washington D.C. or through an understanding of new appellate case law from our Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court.  Laws pertaining to Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Alimony and Property Distribution have some consistent principles and some evolving elements.  Analyzing each aspect of the client's divorce case, helps the client understand their situation and how best they can proceed.  Honest evaluation of a client's strengths and weaknesses in different elements of their case is also very useful when a client is faced with important life changing decisions.  Although I will always advocate for my clients and try to help them regardless of the facts, it is important that the client has a working understanding of the law as it applies to them.

A strong understanding of the law helps the client decide first whether they need court intervention or whether they want to proceed with out of court settlement.  Out of court negotiations occur best as the parties have an understanding of the law, our court system and a potential range of outcomes in court.  No attorney can nail down exactly what a court will do in most cases.  However, we can start to apply the law to a case and try to establish a range of possible outcomes.  Your best day in court is this and your worst day in court is that.  Lawyer's call this process of negotiating as "Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law."  Thus, although the negotiating/mediation process is not necessarily designed to generate the same outcome that the parties predict would occur in court, the parties rarely get too far away from the law or potential court outcomes as the case comes to resolution.  Some people, that are not emotionally ready to resolve their case, try to negotiate while ignoring the law and possible court outcomes.  In these circumstances, I encourage strongly that my clients reject such unfair proposals and proceed onward with further action.  My client having an understanding of the law that is provided helps them know when a proposal is way out of touch with legal reality.  On the other hand, when my client is upset about how the law applies to them in certain situations, it is still very useful for them to understand potential consequences that may be negative.  Knowing when to push an issue and when to back down in negotiations is a vital tool in bringing about the healthiest resolution to your divorce case.  In these moments, knowledge truly is power.

by, J. Franklin Mock