My mother believes that fresh air and exercise can solve about 90% of life’s problems. I’m not sure about solving 90% of my problems, but I know that a good hike generally improves my outlook on most things. In Georgia, we are lucky that we have so many parks and trails to hike. A short drive to the south and we can be navigating the sandy bottom of Providence Canyon, and a short drive to the north and we can be climbing over the rocky paths of Pine Mountain.
Lately, my hiking hobby has been temporarily side-railed while my hiking partner (a/k/a my husband) nurses his strained ankle. He is a life-long exerciser, so he gets frustrated when circumstances outside his control force him off his feet for a time. But, of course, we both know that the only way for him to improve his situation and regain control of his exercise agenda is to follow doctor’s orders and give his body the time it needs to heal.
Like my Mom, I believe that exercise and a good attitude can help us deal with the stress we suffer when we feel that we are being robbed of control of our lives. Dealing with litigation in your life is a lot like dealing with a physical injury: you go to your professional person for diagnosis and information; you ask questions and make a plan for dealing with your injury; you try to follow instructions (as long as they make sense to you), and then you generally have to wait for the healing to happen. And the waiting is always the hardest part.
In the litigation process, the waiting can be discouraging, but what may seem like pointless delays are, in fact, usually the inevitable result of moving a case through all the different stages of the process. For instance, once your divorce complaint has been filed and served on the opposing party, the opposing party has thirty days to respond to the complaint. After that 30 day period has expired, the litigation will enter a six-month “discovery” period, in which both parties have the opportunity to obtain the information they need to make their case if they go to trial. After the discovery period has expired, a case typically will appear on the Judge’s next trial docket. The Superior Court judges in the Chattahoochee Circuit publish an annual schedule which shows when each judge is hearing trials. Each judge generally has two to four weeks per year scheduled for trials in domestic cases and each judge typically has dozens of domestic cases on his or her docket. Often, when a case first appears on a judge’s trial docket, the case will be so far down the list that it cannot be heard during that week and that case gets continued to the next trial docket, later in the year (or, perhaps, later in the next year).
I understand that these long periods of waiting can make people feel like they are victims of the process. That is why I want to do more than just walk you through the legal process. I want to help you define your objectives and consider all the options available to you. I will always be honest with you about the likelihood of your being able to obtain your objectives. I know that there are some occasions where you have to fight for what you need, even when the battle is uphill the entire way, and I am fully prepared to fight vigorously for you. But I think it is important for you to know, at the very beginning, what the process will entail and what your odds of prevailing are, because that is what a professional does: she looks out for the best interests of her clients, even when that means telling them things that may be difficult for them to hear.
So this is my commitment to my clients: I will listen, I will give advice, and I will fight hard for you. And I will also tell you when it’s time for you to take a deep breath, go for a walk, and look for a moment of peace to enjoy.