Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What to Do if You Get a Bad Result

Most people, once they reach a certain age and maturity level, realize that there's not always a happy ending and that they don't always get what they want. And sometimes I would have to disagree with the Rolling Stones who famously said that if you don't get want you want, you'll get what you need. Unfortunately, sometimes there are just bad days and things don't go well for you in court or in negotiations. If you find yourself in such a situation, what can you do or what should you do? Here are some suggestions.

Prelude: Keep in mind that bad results are rarely fatal. As bad as things may be or seem to be, soon things will get better. Time passes and you begin to work out of the hole you may be in. Take some deep breaths and try to put the situation in perspective. Get some help from a non-depressing friend. (We all know some "downer" friends who always see the glass half empty. Don't go to them for support.) Sometimes, experiencing a real let-down opens up new points of view that can help you change directions and may lead you to great improvement in the future. In addition to this attitude recalibration, there are some steps you can take in the legal arena.

1. Have an attorney review the situation right away. You should act quickly because there are often deadlines of 7 or 30 days, or some other time period, for you to take action. An attorney can tell you if the "bad result" is normal or is something that should be attacked, or if any action is cost-effective. Find out what your options are.

2. Get a second opinion. Do it all over with a second or third attorney to make sure you have a thorough review and understanding.

3. You might file a motion for new trial or a motion to reconsider. That is a way to bring everything back before the court, but you should have something new to add to the hearing: new facts, new law or new analysis. You may have to file a motion for new trial if you want to appeal.

4. You can appeal. There are different types of appeals provided in family law situations. Some matters go to a court of appeals, and that's very expensive and time consuming. Other appeals are less formal and can go back to the district court. Your attorney can advise you about these choices.

5. Consider a motion to modify. That might require some passage of time and a change of circumstances, but the delay may help you gather information to support the need for change, and it would also give you time to raise money to pay your legal fees.

6. Try working with your (ex)spouse. Sometimes, people can be reasonable and recognize that a result isn't right or won't work. Sometimes they want to avoid the cost of litigation, so you may be able to work informally with the other side.

7. Consider using mediation or Collaboration. If you and your ex can't work well on your own, maybe having a mediator would help, or you could enter the Collaborative process, with each having your own attorney and other neutral professionals as needed. It doesn't necessarily take a war to undo a bad result.

Postlude: Part of the problem may be your perception. Make sure that your expectations are realistic. When you are talking with attorneys and other trusted advisors, ask whether they think you are being realistic. You may be asking for something that is way out of line. Do a reality check.

As you can see, there are several options for you to consider if things don't go your way. Don't overreact. Stop and think before acting. Get some good advice and then follow through. Good luck!

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