The Differences between Family Law and Other Types of Litigation

Family law litigation is a unique field.  In other types of litigation, the disputed facts relate to a single event in the past.  In family law, the facts are constantly changing.  Here are some of the bigger differences:

  Civil Litigation: Family Law Litigation:
Issues in Dispute Few (2 or 3) legal issues are in dispute at the same time Many (5-15) legal issues are in dispute at once.
Facts in Dispute Facts are fixed in time (car accident, business transaction) Facts change over time, especially with child custody, business income, etc
Client involvement Client provides documents and attorney almost all other work Client continuously produces updated financial and child custody information
Procedure and process Everything leads up to a single trial or settlement Case can be split into separate trials; conditions change even after the trial
Court hearings Rare, and when required, the attorney usually goes alone Frequent, client usually needs to attend alongside attorney
Trial Either party may demand a trial to a jury No jury is allowed
Attorney’s fees Standard rule: each party pays their own attorney’s fees No standard rule: party with better access to resources may pay all fees
Duties between litigants No special duty exists, except in specific kinds of cases. Each has affirmative obligation to watch out for other’s interests
Attorney Aggressiveness Each party’s lawyer can be as aggressive as he or she deems fit Aggressiveness, if not carefully packaged, can be grounds for penalties

Because of the many moving parts, the personal and emotional ties between the parties, and the complex and ever-changing landscape, family law cases can be difficult and expensive.  For this reason, you should always be looking for the simpler and more efficient way out, while at the same time, working to protect yourself and your family.