Well, it’s been some time since my last post; time has a way of getting away from us all, and I am no different. Anyway, when I was in the Army we often used the phrase, “soup sandwich” when referring to troublesome soldiers. A soup sandwich is exactly that: a sandwich over which soup has been poured and the phrase itself denotes a mess. If you have ever tried to pick up bread that has been soaked in water you know exactly what I mean as it is nearly impossible to do so. Sometimes I have prospective clients who come in to see me and their lives are simply a mess. For example, I have met with individuals concerning post-judgment or post-decree matters. At this point in a suit or case it is often impossible to fix the situation, particularly if the appeals period has run. Moreover, appeals in themselves are uncertain, as only a small percentage of cases ever make it to the appellate courts. In such situations I often tell people that good facts make for good cases and bad facts make for bad cases. Certainly, this is somewhat simplistic, but it bears reflection.
Accordingly, at such points there is little to do but to live with the court’s ruling. It is possible on occasion to do damage control, but generally all that can be done is to stave off the inevitable. At such points the “soup sandwich” is exactly what it is.
How then does someone prevent their case from becoming a mess? I think the answer is fairly straightforward, and it is this: “good agreements make for good friends.” I think this applies to all manner of issues and especially in family law situations or civil matters for that matter.
Generally, in each family law case that has been before the court, there is a court order that spells out exactly what each party is to do. Too often, folks follow the order, and later they deviate from it without ever capturing the changes in writing. Then, one party or another will seek to enforce the original order, but often it is too late as the conduct of the parties has become the practice, which more likely than not, the court will adopt. Too often I see this in child support or parenting matters. The answer then is to follow an order exactly or to capture changes in writings which are then filed with the court.
Good agreements, when enforced, serve as boundaries for people to follow. When we allow the boundaries to change we are tacitly giving the other party authority to do what they want, which may not mirror our own desires. This is true in landlord/tenant matters and civil matters as well. Follow the agreement or the order and if necessary, enforce it. Do not wait until the situation is beyond repair. Early, intervention can, and will, make a difference.
Now, each case is different, and what may seem hopeless may not be. As I have written before I think it is important to speak with an attorney to determine the facts of your case. Contact me if I can help.