It is a beautiful day, the sky is blue, the air smells of newly mowed grass, and you are sitting in the bleachers watching kids on a diamond playing “America’s favorite pastime”. You know the rules – the foul lines delineate the field of play, the strike zone is defined, and a hit or an out is clear. And, of course, over the fence is a home run. Your child is the pitcher, your sister’s kid is the first batter up for the opposing team. Your child throws the ball: “Ball One,” calls the ump. You think “This ump is blind, that was clearly a strike.” Your sister meanwhile is yelling “Good call!” You groan as you remember that the home plate umpire has a “stingy” strike zone. You wish it was the other umpire--the one who calls a “generous” strike zone. How do you know this? You have watched many games and learned the strike zones that the different umps call.
It is a gloomy day, You are in your attorney’s office trying to settle the issues in your divorce. No matter what you propose the answer from your spouse is always “No” or “Only if you also give me.…” Despite your best efforts, the negotiation process is breaking down. The prospects of a trial are looming large. As in baseball, there are “rules” in family law--rules which set forth how custody and support will be determined as well as how to determine the allocation of marital assets and debt.
You begin to wonder whether the judge will understand all of your spouse’s failings as a parent; or grasp the magnitude of all of your financial contributions to the marriage when allocating assets. As in baseball, however, just as there are no strikes or balls until the ump calls them, there are no “facts” in a contested divorce trial until the Judge, after hearing the witnesses and reviewing the exhibits, renders findings on the record and determines whether it’s a hit or an out; a strike or ball. And just like baseball umpires, no two judges are likely to see every fact the same way or, for that matter, to decide every issue in exactly the same way.
Unlike baseball, however, a litigant has a choice that the batter does not: by resolving a case in mediation there is no need for a judge to call any “balls and strikes”. But not every case can be resolved in mediation. And when it’s time to “step up to the plate” it is important to have an attorney who “knows the strike zone”.
Whether it’s arguing a motion or conducting a trial, the Family Law attorneys at Cohn Lifland have been to bat many times in the courts throughout Northern New Jersey. Talk to us if you would like to know if your case is a home run.