Often clients come to us long after what began as a simple argument has expanded into a lawsuit. In that situation, as attorneys, we are left to try to figure out how things got so bad. The answer we regularly find is that emotions overtook some if not all of the parties. Divorce and child custody cases are some of the worst examples of out of control litigation. Parties and sometimes their lawyers can turn a simple dispute into an expensive slog through a court system that does not work quickly, cheaply, or sometimes responsively. The truth is the courts DO NOT want to see you in front of them. There are already far too many cases and far too few hours in the day or judges on the bench to resolve them all. I have begun explaining to clients why the judges they appear before, don’t seem to be (in the client’s mind) as upset by the bad behavior of the opposing party. In most Alabama counties, the judges hear all manner of cases from murder to car accidents. A judge may have just finished a week long case about horrible circumstances where someone may have died, or been brutally injured, and they are in no mood to listen to four hours of testimony about nasty emails exchanged between former spouses. The frustration with courts that don’t move quickly causes some parties to only increase their bad behavior since they don’t see any real consequence to it. I sometimes have to deal with an opposing party or opposing lawyer who just seems to want to fight. Other causes of problems can be a party’s unreasonable expectations. Taking a my way or the highway approach usually does not pay off in the end. The key to overcoming an opponent behaving badly is to not respond in kind. Our firm prides itself on having a good reputation and working relationship with the judges and lawyers we regularly deal with. We try to give our clients a realistic opinion of their case and the range of potential outcomes. We are not going to suggest things to make the situation more combative. However, when faced with a bad actor, we use the rules of court and the law to our client’s advantage. Refocusing a dispute on the applicable law is the best way to get a case back on track for settlement or success at trial. To do that our clients need to help, and most of the things the need to do will not cost them anything. Staying clam, avoiding arguments, behaving rationally, and following their attorneys’ advice can keep their case from spinning out of control. If you need help, please contact our attorneys in Blount County at (205) 683-0660 or in Birmingham at (205) 775-7531.