Winning in court is like a batch of cookies, not a box of chocolates.
Winning in family law court is like baking a batch of cookies. You will always be using the same ingredients. When you make your cookies, you use the same basic ingredients: flour, semi-sweet chocolate chips, butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, baking powder, vanilla, and a dash of salt. These cookie ingredients are prepared in a certain way. When preparing your cookies you mix the sugar, brown sugar, butter, and eggs first. You can make the perfect batch of cookie dough, but still ruin them if you happen to cook them at the wrong temperature or cook them for too long. Going to and preparing for court is exactly the same as baking cookies in that there is a process. A process that you must follow exactly or you will put yourself in a bad position when going to court. You may get lucky and win or you may lose custody of your kids. If you think getting lucky is more important than seeing your kids, keep doing what you are doing.
If you think your kids are more important, make sure that your material for temporary orders has these five basic ingredients:
The 5 Ingredients for winning in family law court hearings.
1) Motion – Your motion must state exactly what you want the court to do and why you want the court to do it.
I’ve seen attorneys who had great facts lose their case simply because of this one issue. One attorney recently appeared before King County Commissioner Ponomarchuk. She had a far better factual case than we did and we knew it. But, she also made one big mistake in her material: she forgot to ask the court exactly what she wanted him to do. She lost the hearing and the case.
2) The facts via your written declaration for why the court should do it.
This is the basis for why the court should grant your motion. You have to have a factual basis to support your legal basis.
3) Supporting documents that show you aren’t lying about your facts.
Start with the assumption that judges assume that you are lying. How can you prove you are not? Use supporting written documents which builds credibility for your statements.
4) Use Emotions as a weapon to tell a story.
Judges are people. People make emotional decisions and then use logic to justify them. Emotions tell a story. You need to tell an overall narrative story using emotions but justify it with logic and sound facts. Be careful, don’t get caught up in your emotions of the moment, the judge doesn’t care about your emotions. The judge cares about her emotions.
5) The procedural.
Did you use the right note for motion docket? Did you note it in the right court house? Did you put the hearing before the right commissioner, department, or judge? Did you give the other side proper notice? Did you remember to confirm your hearing? Submit working copies? Submit documents timely? These are the procedural issues that must be done right, every time.
There’s a lot of judges that love to embarrass people, lawyers especially, when they make a procedural error. These are usually the judges with low self-esteem or big egos. Don’t let yourself become one of their victims. I’m still surprised at how often even us lawyers can screw this up.
Mixing the 5 ingredients together for winning in family law court.
When drafting your motion make sure that your material hits all 5 key aspects noted above: Motion, Facts, Supporting Evidence, Story Telling, and Procedural Points.
Thorough preparation is the secret to winning in family law court. These 5 basic elements are the foundation of your preparation. Use them to get your cookie dough ready for court. Then, when you get to court to argue your case, make sure you bake your cookies at the right temperature and that you don’t ruin the cookies by baking them too long. The same in life is true in court: preparation, preparation, preparation.
If you need help drafting your motion, schedule a pro se assistance meeting with one of our attorneys. We’ve been providing pro se assistance to litigants for years and enjoy the work since it usually only takes us a few hours of our time. If you’d like to setup an appointment to have us help you with yours, call us at 206-633-2015 to schedule a meeting.