April 4, 2017

The Impact of Outside Influences in Your Colorado Family Law Case

As I watched the NCAA Men’s Basketball final game this past Monday, I saw two teams, the Gonzaga Bulldogs and North Carolina Tar Heels, lay it all on the line to fight for the title of champion. Both of these teams trained and prepared all season for the chance to show their fans and the world that they were ready for the big game. Throughout the game, I watched the players both make and miss baskets; however, there was a third party that had a great impact on the outcome of the game, the referees. The referees were outside influences that affected the control that the teams had in the game even after all of the training and preparation.

In today’s article, I want to discuss three outside influences, (1) the Magistrate/Judge, (2) family and friends, and (3) social media, that can have an impact on your Family Law case.

Magistrates and Judges

The impact: When a party makes a decision to go to hearing in a Family Law matter, their case will be heard in front of a Magistrate or Judge. Similar to a referee, a Magistrate or Judge is there to make sure that the rules or law is followed by both parties. However, unlike a referee, a Magistrate or Judge is tasked with making a final decision or ruling after both parties present their side of the case. I often tell my clients that we will present a case that is well prepared and execute that case to the best of our ability, but at the end of the hearing the Magistrate or Judge is the one in control that makes the decision.

What do you do? If my clients want to have true control in the outcome of their particular case, I recommend they settle the case either directly with the other party or through a mediator. In Colorado Springs, there are many mediators that I know, like, and trust and have helped many of my client resolve their cases without a hearing. Sometimes though, going to a hearing is inevitable and my biggest piece of advice is to be prepared and control what you can control. Present a strong and reasonable case to the Court, be respectful to the Judge and his or her staff, have your witness and exhibits ready, and know what questions you are going to ask. By controlling what you can control, you can look back and say that you have done all you can when the Magistrate or Judge makes his or her ruling.

Family and Friends

The impact: I believe that family and friends are outside influences that can have a major impact on the feelings and decisions clients make throughout a case.  One way they have an impact is by expressing their opinions based on their own thoughts or prior results from their own case. Now, this is not wrong, but I often have to express to my clients that every case is different. The facts of your case are specific to your case. Also, the prior relationship that they family member or friend had with the opposing side will shape their opinions they give you. Again, this is not wrong. As a Family Law attorney, I have to help my client determine areas of the case like a parenting plan, child support, spousal maintenance, and a separation agreement based on the law and the facts of the case, not opinions.

What do you do? I think that you should always listen to and respect the opinions of family and friends. With that said, when you are in a Family Law case, you need to examine if those opinions are helping you achieve your legal goals. You should listen to your attorney and discuss what advice and opinions your family members are giving.

Social Media

The impact: The impact of social media in a case is huge. Not only what parties read on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter, etc.), but what they write on social media can greatly affect parts of their case. Remember that what you read on social media may or may not be true and is not your specific situation with your specific facts. So, basically, do not buy into the hype of what someone tweeted or posted. Additionally, what you post on social media can be used as an exhibit you in your Family Law case. I have used and had used against me many posts, pics, and tweets in contested hearings.

What do you do? Regarding the posts you read or pictures you see, I recommend examining them each individually so that you can determine the difference between information that is beneficial to you and information that is either entertaining or made up. It is very important to self-edit and analyze the information you read online. Regarding the information you write or post on social media, I believe you should always ask if that information could be used against you in your case. If you must post, check with your attorney if you are questioning the content you want to post. Always take the high road when you post anything on social media. By that I mean, be positive in your posts and pictures.

If you are in a Family Law case or thinking about starting a Family Law matter in or around El Paso County, Colorado, please contact the attorneys at Springs Law Group LLC to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss the best steps in preparing for your specific matter.

Christopher Nicolaysen is a Family law Attorney who practices in Colorado Springs, CO. He graduated from Denver Sturm College of Law, and has been practicing law for several years now. Christopher Nicolaysen is passionate about helping you solve your family matters. Learn more about his experience here.

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