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Before we get into anything related to strategy, we have to narrow the scope of what we are dealing with here. Contrary to a common misconception, the practice of divorce and family law is highly specialized and incredibly nuanced. There are rules, rule exceptions, and a considerable amount of “gray area.” The gray area is where nuance comes in, and an attorney who can effectively and persuasively argue a client’s position while dealing with the gray area adds immediate value to any case.
This isn’t a comprehensive overview of the Colorado divorce process. We are talking about pre-decree cases wherein a petition for dissolution of marriage has been filed. We aren’t getting into post-decree matters: parenting time modifications, maintenance modifications, child support modifications, etc. It’s too comprehensive and often times confusing. We aren’t going to analyze the law aside from necessary references to give an analysis some applicable context. We are focusing on one critical and often overlooked facet of a Colorado divorce case: strategy. My hope is that anyone who reads this blog post will think more effectively about their case and will therefore help themselves reach a successful outcome.
Strategy is defined as “a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.” It is a plan of action. It requires critical thinking, anticipatory planning and a thorough understanding of the facts combined with a superior knowledge of the law. Strategy is big-picture thinking, game-planning and execution with an intended and foreseeable outcome. Strategy is not being aggressive without a goal!
A STRATEGIC MINDSET
Abraham Lincoln once famously said, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” I believe this statement applies to everyone, including attorneys, especially in the area of divorce and family law. Why is that? Divorce and family law attorneys know the law, so why are they themselves fools if they don’t hire an attorney? The answer is simple and basic: emotions. Emotions are kryptonite to strategic thinking, and a divorce (especially with children) is often nothing less than a glob of anger, fear, worry, and frustration. Divorces bring out the worst in both clients and many attorneys. A strategic mindset is unemotional and focused. Colorado is a no-fault state which means that “fault” is irrelevant. What is relevant, for our purposes, is data collection.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t analyze the value of hiring an attorney and whether it makes financial sense. A lot of our work at Burnham Law includes representing people who didn’t use a lawyer during their divorce, or they were represented poorly, and we are tasked with “fixing” the case. Some cases are not fixable at that point. So I strongly encourage you to hire a qualified attorney if: 1. there is a disparity in income and/or income potential; 2. There are children of the marriage and the parties have fundamental disagreements about the children’s best interests; or 3. there are marital assets and there is a disagreement about how the marital estate will be divided. Even if the parties are amicable and committed to resolving the matter without “fighting,” always have a competent attorney review the final agreements before they are submitted to the court.
At Burnham Law we listen to our clients and the specific facts of the case, we think about their case and develop effective strategies, and we regularly win by achieving our clients’ goals.