School is in session. Do you have your number 2 pencil ready?
Maybe one of the most vital aspects of the divorce process is what’s commonly referred to as “motion practice.” Let’s do a brief lesson for those of you who don’t know what a motion is.
Whenever you want the court to do something on your case, you have to file a motion. A motion is a fancy legal name for the document you file with the court when you are asking for some type of relief.
Unless there is some scheduled event in your case, the court is not paying attention to you. So, the way to get the court’s attention and on the calendar is to file a motion.
There are many different types of motions you can file, which I will explain further in another post. For now, I want to talk about what you need to focus on when you file a motion…the writing.
If you’re thinking of filing a motion, then I hope you have prepared for the divorce process by now.
You better take your time and put in the work to file a well-written motion. And writing for a court is different than writing to a friend or anyone else. Let’s start at the beginning…
Do you know how to write? Ok, that may be a dumb question, but do you know how to write persuasively? Because trying to get the court to grant your request, no matter what it is you’re asking for, depends on your ability to convey your argument in a persuasive and articulate manner.
This is a skill that everyone can learn…but many don’t. I can tell you that there are attorneys out there who don’t know how to write. Seriously!
When you write your motion, you can’t just ask the Judge to give you something without explaining why you deserve it and supporting the request with some solid evidence.
5 Tips To Help You Write A Persuasive Motion
Here are some quick tips to help you out when you sit down to write your motion:
1. We’re going old school and breaking out the outline. That’s right, make an outline of the topics you would like to discuss in your motion. While you generally can address multiple issues in one motion, don’t go crazy and focus on the few things that are most important to you right now.
2. Do some legal research to bolster your request. If you can find some case law to support your contention, you make it that much easier for the court to grant your request. (I’ll go over how to conduct your own legal research in a detailed blog post so keep your eye out). It’s funny how much you can find just doing a basic online search.
3. Don’t mud sling. Court’s don’t like it when you cast aspersions and insult the other party in your papers. It happens too often and it will only create a negative image in the Judge’s mind, probably affecting how he will treat your request. Stick to the facts.
4. Write, review, re-write and repeat. Writing a good motion is like washing your hair, except without the water and suds. Have you ever heard the phrase, “writing is re-writing?” Get your initial thoughts out on paper, let it sit for a day and then edit it. Your motion should be treated like a research paper for school. Lawyers spend a lot of time writing motions…you should too.
5. Organization is key. You might have heard me say this before…but you need to be organized. This is why your outline is so important. Once you know what you want to say, organize it in a way that flows and makes sense to the court. Remember, a real person will be reading this, so you don’t want to make them strain to figure it out. Use headings and sub-headings. Tell a story and it will improve your chances of success greatly.
There you go. Writing a motion can be a make or break in your case. Take the time to do it well. You may not get the result you want, but the court will appreciate it and that just may be favorable to you the next time you appear in court.
Be strong, act confident, stay positive!
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