The following is the Heins Law philosophy for settlements and negotiations in family law.
While I believe there’s a worthy fight, it is almost always best for parties to negotiate, and many times come to agreements in Arizona family law cases. This is especially true when children are involved.
Why do Children always lose?
The scene in the movie Liar, Liar comes to mind. Jim Carrey’s character is coming to his senses after his spell (you know, the one where he can’t tell a lie). This puts him out of he is a family law attorney so good at manipulating the truth. He can’t tell a lie, but he realizes his client is horrible. At the same time he realizes the other party is a good dad. His client, after taking his previous advice, want to use the children as leverage to get what she wants. She wants to squeeze, even as the children are the object being manipulated. It is so disgusting, and we all know it! I live in this realm, seeing lawyers take part in the debacle all the time! As stated in a separate article, I believe leveraging children is one of the most immoral things a person can do. And we wonder why there are so many lawyer jokes? Our profession is filled with compromises and line drawing that often errors on the side of money and not on bettering humanity. So many lawyers have to abide by the will of their bosses (i.e. partners), or they seek other employment.
Here is an ugly secret: Unfortunately many, if not most, family law attorneys have billable hours as the underlying motive. This means they make a really weak effort at finding common ground. Many of them don’t even attempt to negotiate. You may want it that way — cut throat lawyer is what you want — but it often leaves you in worse shape.
Fortunately, Heins Law does not have that dilemma. We have only one higher authority and we stick to our values.
What are the benefits of negotiation?
Plus, there are many benefits of negotiation, even when parties cannot come to an agreement. I always tell my clients that it benefits us if we can negotiate with the other side. Technically, the rules require us to attempt at negotiation. I think I make myself clear that I take that seriously. Here, I’ll state that we do so because we gain valuable information. We learn the other party’s positions. We gain helpful insights that help us narrow the issues and make the case more productive. That is the way this is supposed to work. Unfortunately, not all parties are as compliant as we would hope. Sometimes we have a party willing to disclose themselves, but they then show unreasonable and stubborn. That benefits your ability to effectively counter their unreasonablness.
Other benefits are that you come to agreements that benefit parties, especially when children are involved. You have to deal with this person until the child is eighteen (18). I always state that to the client. They need to hear it. We need to get past our negative emotions, denying ourselves for the betterment of children. That is what it means to grow up and be an adult. That is what it means to be a parent. I hope to have the reasonable parent. If I don’t, then I help them be reasonable. While it may take some negotiating with my client, it almost always works where my client is reasonable.
That doesn’t mean we don’t have to fight at some point. We might have to fight initially and then parties realize it is better to take a different approach. I always start out with asking my clients: what are you non-negotiables, negotiable, and areas where you are completely flexible. It is also good to understand what the other party cares about. Inevitably, every side has some leverage. Here it is tempting to leverage children, if that is all you have. Don’t go there. You will lose in life. A better way to look at it is that you are leveraging being the better person. The other side will inevitably see that and try to compete with you on being a better person. And that’s what you want to do because it is when you get the best results for the children. It may come to that point, where you are fighting for a cause greater than yourself. That is where we can really help you get, while other law firms focus on billable hours and remain blind and incapable of getting to this greater reasoning.