What affects the outcome of court cases more?

What affects the outcome of court cases more, the relative strengths and experience of the opposing lawyers, actual facts, relevant law, or some other factor? 

I answer this question in the context of divorce and family law, not all legal settings. 

Now remember, every case involves some unique elements, every case is affected by different influences and to differing degrees, but GENERALLY SPEAKING, in divorce and family law (in my experience), here are the factors that affect the successful outcome of the case most (in descending order): 

  • being the woman (in a heterosexual divorce or child custody case) 
    • I’m not divorced (God willing, I never will be), so please don’t write me off as a bitter misogynist. I represent both men and women in divorce, and the undeniable fact is (at the time I write this, i.e., the early 21st century in the U.S.A.) that unless the woman has some high-profile strikes against her (i.e., an undeniable history of serious substance abuse, violence (against children and/or spouse), child neglect, mental health instability, serious physical disability, dishonest behavior (including, but not limited to infidelity, lying to the police making false allegations of violent, committing fraud, etc.), it’s the woman’s case to lose. The odds favor the woman. 
    • The odds are getting more even between men and women, but the women still generally have an unfair advantage. No question. Even the women attorneys will tell you that. 
      • It should be clear by now that I my statements are generalities, but if it’s still not clear, I will clarify further: I know there are women who are treated miserably unfairly by the legal system from the get-go in divorce and child custody disputes (I’ve represented some), but they are much, much fewer in number than men who suffer the same fate. 
    • having sufficient undisputed facts on your side 
      • Wait, being the woman is a bigger advantage than having sufficient undisputed facts on your side? Is that what you’re saying, Eric? Generally, yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Don’t get me wrong; sufficient undisputed facts are great, often the deciding factor, but not always (and that’s a shame). 
    • having a skilled, persuasive lawyer on your side 
    • the competency of the judge 
      • how impartial the judge is 
        • being friends with the judge—whether that means your lawyer or you—or just well thought of by the judge is a factor. It shouldn’t be, but it is. 
      • how gullible the judge is 
      • how well the judge understands and applies the law correctly 
      • how well the judge crafts rulings that are 1) no more and no less than the circumstances appear to require; 2) both just and equitable; and 3) work in the real world. 
    • being a victim 
      • If the court to pities you, that helps. 
    • how attractive you are in your appearance and speech. This can cut both ways. Ugly inarticulate people generally get treated worse than attractive and articulate people. Yet being “too” good looking or “too” smart can cause some judges to envy and resent your good fortune in the looks and brains department and thus mistreat you for it. And some judges confuse being ugly and dumb as being worthy of preferential treatment. But overall if you’re ugly and dull-witted, that’s a strike against you more often than not. 

 Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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