Considerations for Picking Your Battles in Family Court
What Factors Should You Consider?
I want to talk to you guys a little bit about a concept I like to call picking your battles. My name is Brian L. Jackson. I’m a Tulsa father’s rights attorney here with Dads.Law. My fathers are not disposable. I want to talk to you guys today about picking your battles. I mean this specifically in the context of when you should or shouldn’t really fight something in family court.
I have this conversation a lot with clients because a lot of times, first of all, family court is almost impossible to separate from people’s emotions because you’re talking about divorces, you’re talking about people’s children, you know, lifetimes worth of savings, things like that. Relationships that were, you know, maybe planned to be a long term relationship suddenly blown apart. And people have very intense feelings about that and not unreasonably so.
What is a Pyrrhic Victory?
Here’s the thing though. I can tell you straight up that family court is an excellent place to go win a Pyrrhic victory. Now what do I mean by a Pyrrhic victory? I want to give you kind of a little bit of an analogy to think about. If any of you guys out there have ever seen the movie Rocky IV, where Rocky fights Ivan Drago. Now that fight wasn’t for money, wasn’t for a title, he was fighting basically for revenge. He wins the fight but ends up being so badly injured in the fight that he loses his boxing career and it costs him dearly. He has lifelong injuries from this fight. I would submit to you that is an example of what we would call a Pyrrhic victory. In other words, a victory that is so expensive that it’s not worth having.
The problem with fighting some types of fights in family court, and this is particularly true when you talk about fighting over money or personal property, is you can easily, easily spend tens of thousands of dollars going to trial in Oklahoma. Easily. Especially if you’re in a busier jurisdiction where you might have to do a bunch of docket appearances before you actually get your trial. Like for example, Tulsa County or Oklahoma County. You can easily spend tens of thousands of dollars going to trial.
Consider the Value
Now if it’s over your kids and it’s over something significant, then you do what you have to. But if you’re talking about money or personal property, there is very few people that own personal property that is going to be valuable enough in terms of raw cash value. And really that’s what you’re talking about when you’re talking about fighting over personal property. It’s the dollars behind that personal property. What is it really worth? I think if you go through your household, you will quickly find that you don’t own a whole lot that is so valuable as to justify going to court and fighting and spending 10, 15, 20 thousand dollars to fight over possession of. Because most of us just don’t own things that are that valuable. Even the collective contents of your house most likely aren’t that valuable. And you should think about it in terms of cash value as in liquidation value, not what it costs to replace. What is it actually worth? If I sell that today, what would be my fair market value for selling that item? And that’s what you should think about.
Now I do understand there are certain specific things that might have sentimental value that is not reflected in the cash value. And if that’s something that’s important enough to you, maybe it is worth going to court over. But I would still encourage you to think carefully. Most types of personal possessions can be replaced. And as far as money goes, well it’s dumb to spend dollars fighting over pennies. If there’s a bank account with a couple grand in it and you’re thinking I’m going to go to trial over that, you’re an idiot. And I don’t mean that disrespectfully, I’m just saying you’re an idiot if you do that. Because you will spend that money several times over and the only person who’s going to get that money is going to be your lawyer and her lawyer. And it’s not worth it.
Principle and Modern Family Courts
The last thing I talk about too is principle. Bitter pill to swallow, but you need to get used to this idea that modern family courts do not care if she cheated on you or she was a bitch to you. They don’t care. They’re going to be concerned with how do we equitably divide up property and assets and debts. And then if there are children involved, what’s best for the children. That’s all they care about. So her boyfriend on the side won’t matter to property division one iota, it won’t even help you in terms of trying to contest alimony. The only reason that the court will care about that in terms of child custody is if this individual either interferes in an appreciable way with your relationship with your children, or if they’re an unwholesome influence, i.e. they have like a criminal record or they’re doing drugs or they’ve got mental health issues or something of that nature. Otherwise her boyfriend is probably going to be of very little concern to the court. And again, I understand that’s a bitter pill to swallow, but this is just realistically what modern family court litigation looks like.
Get the Help You Need
And guys, if you have any questions about that, I would encourage you to go to Dads.Law where fathers are not disposable and I’d be happy to talk to you about it.