Family Law attorneys should not be making decisions for their Clients. The Client should be making the decisions. It is the job of the attorney to provide enough information, expertise and guidance to the Client, so that the Client understands the options available, the risks or consequences of those options and the Client can then make a decision that is right for them and for their family. However, when the case lands in the courtroom, there are times the attorney must make the decision(s) without the Client’s input or control.
Litigation in a courtroom is different than what occurs in the attorney’s office or during negotiations with the opposing party. Litigation is directed by the Judge. It is the Judge’s courtroom and they are in charge of how the case will proceed. The Judge sets the schedule for which case will be heard, how much time will be allowed for the presentation of the case and rules upon all issues that arise while the case is being litigated, applying the rules of procedure and evidence. Often, immediate decisions must be made by the attorney based upon what the attorney hears from witnesses, opposing parties and the judge. The attorney also sees—from a legal and tactical viewpoint—what is taking place between the participants in the case—including the judge—and must react immediately and appropriately. The attorney must know what “evidence” exists and what does not exist because they may need to make an instant decision based upon the options available at that time. All decisions regarding the presentation of evidence should always be a product of the facts and the law—but must always be viewed with the risks and consequences the attorney assigns to what is occurring in the courtroom.