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Tag: character

Do letters vouching for one’s character really matter?

My lawyer asked me to get letters of my character from my friends for family court to introduce as evidence, but do they really matter and is 12 enough?

Do letters vouching for one’s character really matter? 

If so, are 12 character reference letters enough? 

I will answer these questions: 

  • in the context of a divorce and child custody case (because my guess is that is the kind of case for which your lawyer told you to get character reference letters); and 
  • based upon the laws of the State of Utah, where I practice divorce and family law. 

Do letters vouching for one’s character really matter? Another way one might ask this question is: “Do character reference letters have a major helpful impact on my case?” It’s impossible to say whether this is true in all cases. Some judges may give greater credence and weight to character references than do other judges. I think the key question is instead: “Is there any good reason not to submit positive character reference letters to the court in support of my case?” My answers to that question are: 

  • I don’t see such letters posing a serious risk of harm to your case. If so, 
  • Are 12 character reference letters enough? Probably more than enough, depending upon their respective length and content. 12 five-page, single-spaced, rambling letters without any paragraphing and bad punctuation and spelling are either not going to be read or remembered or, if they are remembered, will not be remembered favorably. Form letters that are all the same but for the signature at the bottom are a bad idea. Letters that attempt to build you up by tearing your spouse down aren’t terribly persuasive. 
  • 4 or 5 letters of one page or less, from credible (i.e., not just from from Mom and Dad, your minister and your best friend, but from neighbors and teachers, and others who don’t have a stake in the outcome of the case, for example) plain-spoken people who know you well and who make a cogent argument for your good character are probably about right in number and length. The only exception I can think of is if your spouse submits 10,000 character letters, then you may need to respond in kind, if the court determines character by volume. 

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277  

https://www.quora.com/My-lawyer-asked-me-to-get-letters-of-my-character-from-my-friends-for-family-court-to-introduce-as-evidence-but-do-they-really-matter-and-is-12-enough/answer/Eric-Johnson-311  

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Are family members allowed to be character witnesses in a divorce case?

Questions regarding one’s character as a spouse and parent often arise in a divorce and/or child custody case, and family members are often some of the best, if not the best, character witnesses on subjects that frequently arise in divorce and child custody cases. What kinds of questions? For example, questions about a party’s parental fitness and character may because family members are often the most percipient witnesses, meaning they are those who have observed a party as a parent most often, most accurately, and most reliably.

As you might have guessed, one of the reasons that family members are not seen as the best witnesses generally (whether a fact witness or character witness) is because there will always be a question of whether your mom or dear uncle Milt is a reliable source of accurate information about you, as opposed to being someone who will propagandize for you irrespective of the truth. It’s not unreasonable to presume that a family member might choose loyalty to you over being completely honest about you.

Sometimes, a family member may be your best, even your only, witness on a particular issue. So, if you aren’t afraid that your family member has dirt on you, and if you trust that your family member will both be honest and come across as honest, don’t write off a family member as a witness merely for being a family member.

Some people confuse a character witness with “a witness who will say things that are helpful to my case, so that the court will side with me.” It’s understandable if someone who is not an attorney believes that a divorce or child custody case is a popularity contest, but it’s not. If your witness doesn’t have believable testimony to give on a relevant issue, you shouldn’t call that witness to testify. For example, if you were to bring in any witness, family member or otherwise, to say that generally your spouse is mean and therefore should be treated harshly when it comes to dividing marital assets, such witness testimony is not only totally irrelevant evidence, but wasteful of court time and thus very irritating to the judge. Additionally, bringing in a dozen character witnesses to say the same thing about your character or the character of your spouse is unnecessarily cumulative and the court would almost certainly not permit a dozen witnesses to say duplicative things when one or two, maybe three witnesses would suffice.

Sometimes, your attorney may advise you not to call a family member as a witness to protect you from having that family member intentionally or inadvertently say things about you that paint you in a bad light. Sometimes, your attorney may advise you not to call a family member as a witness because you are unsure of what the witness would say or you know that the family member is a chatterbox who doesn’t know when to shut up.

Bottom line: 1) family members are not barred from being character witnesses; 2) family members are often the best or among the best of your character witnesses; 3) don’t be afraid to utilize family members as character witnesses, as long as they will come across as credible witnesses who won’t intentionally or inadvertently say damaging things about you; and 4) avoid poisoning the opinion of the court against you by ensuring that you do not call “character witnesses” to testify on subjects and issues that have nothing to do with your or your spouse’s character.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Why-arent-family-members-allowed-to-be-character-witnesses-in-a-divorce-case/answer/Eric-Johnson-311?prompt_topic_bio=1

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Is it more important for an attorney to have the money or the talent to litigate and win a case (example in the situation of your choosing)?

Is it more important for an attorney to have the money or the talent to litigate and win a case (example in the situation of your choosing)?

There are many factors that bear on whether an attorney will be as successful as possible in handling your case. You asked about money and talent, so I will address those factors.

An attorney obviously needs the talent and skill to handle the case successfully or he/she won’t (can’t) handle the case successfully.

The attorney needs to be solvent and have enough money to keep his/doors open or the attorney can’t handle the case successfully.

Finally, the attorney needs to be paid well enough to do the job well enough.

There are many people in every trade and profession (not just lawyers) whose guiding principle is “get the customer to pay me as much as possible.” Those kinds of people (and lawyers) are to be avoided. Not only because they don’t provide value for the money but because if they have that kind of predatory, self-interested attitude toward you and your needs, they likely don’t have enough intellectual and emotional bandwidth to give your case the attention and work it truly deserves. Which means that kind of lawyer does not have what it takes to handle the case successfully because your success isn’t really that kind of attorney’s goal.

I’m an attorney. I have also been a client. What do I look for when seeking a good attorney for me?:

Honesty and good character. Yes, there are some honest attorneys of good character out there. Yes, they are hard to find, but worth finding, given that being honest is, in my book, the most important trait a lawyer must have.

Skill. A very close second to honesty and good character is skill. No, that’s not quite right. A successful attorney must be as skilled as he/she is honest and of good character. An honest but incompetent attorney isn’t going to do you any good, and an incompetent attorney can often make your situation worse than had you never hired the incompetent attorney.

Diligence/scrappiness. A successful attorney has to be willing to do the work needed. He/she needs to be willing to do the hard things and stay vigilant. This does not mean your attorney is your slave or that your attorney must sacrifice his/her mental and physical health for you, but it does mean your attorney can’t be lazy.

Resourceful and creative, able to improvise when necessary. Litigation and your will throw you curve balls. Your attorney must be able not merely to roll with the punches, but to anticipate as many of them as possible and have the smarts and tools to react to them nimbly and as productively as possible.

One who provides an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. In other words, an attorney who delivers value for the money. It’s not always obvious whether your attorney delivers value. Keep your eyes open. Your attorney is not a wizard who can take a sow’s ear of a case and turn it into a silk purse, so don’t expect such a thing. Value is not synonymous with “miracles.” And don’t expect more from your good attorney than value for the money. Pay the attorney what the attorney is worth. No more, no less. If you try to cheat a good attorney, he/she is too wise to allow that, and your attorney will quit.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Is-it-more-important-for-an-attorney-to-have-the-money-or-the-talent-to-litigate-and-win-a-case-example-in-the-situation-of-your-choosing/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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Why do people in the United States get divorced so much? 40-50% sounds so extreme.

Why do people in the United States get divorced so much? A 40-50% divorce rate sounds so extreme.

First, know up front that there are, of course, some people who not only can clearly and in good conscience justify getting divorced. Still, the divorce rate is so high—too high—in the U.S. The main reason why is, in my experienced opinion, because we have a serious character problem in this country that is only getting worse. We drive Judeo Christian values out of virtually every public forum so that virtually no one is taught—let alone held to—public virtues and values of honesty, courage, the work ethic, charity, sacrifice for the greater good, education, humility, love, forgiveness, and personal responsibility. A marriage consisting of one or two people who don’t know and apply these values is doomed.

Of course there are some people who not only can clearly and in good conscience justify getting divorced. Good character does not require that one suffer perpetual violence and/or emotional abuse or put up with a spouse who neglects to care for his/her spouse and children, is unfaithful, habitually drunk or high, a or criminal (to name the most obvious reasons for divorce).

But far, far too many people divorce simply as a matter of personal preference, failing to understand that marriage takes all that good character requires. Honesty, patience, sacrifice, humility, love, forgiveness, and work, both inside and outside the home. A marriage consisting of one or two people who don’t know and apply these values is doomed, and most divorces that aren’t based upon real, serious fault of the other spouse and are instead a matter of seeming convenience don’t leave one (or the children of one’s destroyed family) better off.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Why-do-people-in-the-United-States-get-divorced-so-much-A-40-50-divorce-rate-sounds-so-extreme

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Why does a parent asking questions turn into a trial?

Why does a parent asking questions turn into a trial?

A parent questioning a child often turns into “a trial” when either

1) the child questioned is guilty of wrongdoing and does not want to be exposed or

2) the child questioned is innocent of any wrongdoing and feels as though the questions call his/her good character into doubt, which leads to the child resenting the questioning.

Keep that in mind if you are a divorcing or separated parent.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Why-does-a-parent-asking-questions-turn-into-a-trial/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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How can a man show emotion to his woman without her taking it for weakness?

How can a man show emotion to his woman without her taking it for weakness?

He can’t. The value in a man showing his wife or girlfriend genuine emotion and vulnerability lies in the fact that it shows he has the decency and the strength of character to risk embarrassment or rejection or other potential harm (while hoping to draw closer to you and build a better relationship with her) by showing genuine emotion and vulnerability.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/How-can-a-man-show-emotion-to-his-woman-without-her-taking-it-for-weakness/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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