You may be mad, upset…and ready to fight. But, hold your horses!
Depending on your case type, you might be able to file a motion asking for some type of relief from the court with little effort, and sometimes not even a filing fee.
That doesn’t mean you go ahead and do so whenever something happens you don’t like involving your case.
Judges don’t like frequent filers. A court is not an airline, where you get points for using its services regularly.
If you are dealing with something that you don’t like, whether it’s your ex not abiding the settlement agreement, or someone not following the agreed-upon parenting time schedule, you need to document the issue before you file a motion and go to court.
Here are four things you should do before you run to court:
1. Document the wrongful behavior. If you don’t have any evidence to support your argument, then it’s your word against his and the Judge has to make a credibility determination on who to believe. That is pretty risky and chances are it won’t go your way. Before you file anything, document the behavior that you are about to complain about.
Keep a diary, or log of the specific dates/times these incidents occur. If it happens on a regular basis, that establishes a pattern of conduct that you can present to the court to make your case.
2. Wait until you can show repeated violations or a pattern. Court’s can award relief based on one incident, but you have a better chance of success if you can show a pattern of repeated behavior. This shows the Judge a couple things. First, you were not quick to pull the trigger and file a motion; you gave it time and tried to resolve the dispute amicably before you asked the court for relief.
3. Try to resolve the issue first. I alluded to this in point 2. Courts like to see that you sincerely attempted to resolve the dispute on your own before asking the court to resolve it for you. Going back to point 1, document your efforts to resolve it. Send/save emails, texts.
Frankly, I would suggest always using written forms of communication when possible. It’s easier to use these things as evidence when you are in court. Telling a Judge you tried to resolve your dispute on the phone turns into a he said/she said scenario…you want to try and stay away from that.
4. Have a reasonable resolution to solve the dispute. If you want a Judge to agree with your position on an issue, your best bet is to have a reasonable way to resolve the dispute. Just saying your spouse is an idiot, careless, or inattentive (although maybe true) is not enough to get what you want. Think about how your suggested resolution will look to a court.
For example, if you want a different parenting time schedule, don’t just ask for it. Unless there is a good reason not to, suggest the alternative schedule that gives the other parent sufficient parenting time. If you suggest a schedule that is one-sided in your favor, a court will not take it, or you, seriously. Change is possible, but the more reasonable your solution is, the more likely you are to convince a court to agree with you.
Put Yourself In the Court’s Shoes
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