How Important Is It to Hire an Aggressive Lawyer?
Using Love, Forgiveness & Integrity During Divorce
Using Love, Forgiveness & Integrity During Divorce
Timothy Ash started his law practice in 1994 as a sole practitioner. After gaining valuable experience clerking for several Circuit Court Judges, Tim developed fierce trial and litigation skills during his clerkships having sat next to the judges and observing the judges preside over 100s of trials, motions, hearings, conferences during his almost three years.
He speaks with Lawyer Monthly about how love heals all, especially in the heated, stressful journey divorce takes couples on.
Being honest with people in love and with integrity is difficult and may cause me to lose a client, but it is the only way to establish a relationship that is built on the right foundation
What is the traditional mode of divorce and family law litigation?
Divorce is painful which causes bitter feelings of anger and hate. Traditional lawyers unwittingly encourage heightened litigation by focusing on your emotions rather than solutions. Traditional attorneys promise the litigant they will fight for your rights and give the possible new client all of the reasons why they should be hired over another attorney. I used TOUGHLITIGATOR.COM and a hokey slogan “Hire A Lawyer with Bite” pictured inside an alligator’s mouth.
However, the court system focuses on the child(ren)’s best interest, or the equitable solution. If your focus is limited to your rights and NOT the best interest of the child(ren) or an equitable solution, the court system will reject your position. Being honest with people in love and with integrity is difficult and may cause me to lose a client, but it is the only way to establish a relationship that is built on the right foundation. A foundation that will withstand the storms that will occur during the litigation process.
An experienced trial attorney would be necessary to avoid a potential injustice.
How important is it to hire an aggressive lawyer in your divorce case?
The absence of an attorney with trial/litigation experience could be detrimental if the opposing spouse has hired an attorney who is experienced in litigation. An experienced trial attorney would be necessary to avoid a potential injustice. The important fact is that you do not confuse aggressive for self-directed. An aggressive attorney may be aggressive for all the wrong reasons. You want a powerful advocate; just make sure the attorney is advocating for positions that are greater than your own.
What impact do finances have in the divorce process?
Divorce cases are fraught with financial confusion and lack of direction. The law firm of Ash & Ash Legal Group has recognized the importance of financial planning. My wife, Patricia Ash recently formed a financial company, Ash Financial Group, LLC in 2015. We discovered that financial planning provides clients with a significant advantage in divorce. Additionally, Stan Targosz has partnered with Ash & Ash to provide nationally acclaimed financial wisdom for its clients. We have a team of financial analysts that design specific strategies for our clients. These strategies keep our clients focused on what is important which reduces anxiety. Financial planning also encourages the client to start building a new foundation for their future.
How important is it for your attorney to know the judge, the friend of the court, the process?
I have worked for three judges and have had an opportunity to interact with judges during their decision-making process. Judges want to be fair and they intentionally remain neutral when deciding a case. I question attorneys who tell a prospective client that they have a personal relationship with the judge, implying that hiring them will somehow bring an advantage to their case. I would recommend steering clear of such an attorney.
Although I have spent many years representing clients in a traditional manner, I have found that proceeding with love, forgiveness and integrity allows me to remain focused on my client’s needs.
In your nearly three decades of specializing in family law what is the most valuable experience and how have you applied it in representing clients today?
There is no silver bullet. You are not going to hire the right attorney, draw the right judge, or receive some magical advice that is going to end your current circumstances. Your family law issue has been brewing for a long time and true change requires a long-term solution. I have witnessed too much hatred, anger and unforgiveness; and if I am honest, encouraged these behaviours during my years as a family lawyer.
Although I have spent many years representing clients in a traditional manner, I have found that proceeding with love, forgiveness and integrity allows me to remain focused on my client’s needs. Love is not the opposite of hate, love extinguishes hate. Love is patient, kind, merciful, it does not boast, or keep records of past wrongs. What a perfect way to go through the divorce process.
Forgiveness is not only for your spouse, but for you and for me. It is so hard to do, but I encourage it strongly. Forgiveness is not for the other person, forgiveness is for you: it is a gift.
Maintaining your integrity is also important. When emotions are high, and life gets overwhelming it is easy to slip into the person who frequently says one thing and does another. We blame it on our circumstance. People do not realize how much is compromised when people think you are not of your word. You are powerful when you are who you say you are. Courts will respect you, opposing attorneys will not be able to discredit you and most important: the proper solutions will emerge when you are being honest and sincere.
More About Timothy:
Can you share your most challenging case yet, and how you overcame it?
I am going to give you two:
People v Raymond Ponke. Only a year out of law school I represented Mr. Ponke who was accused of murder. He went crazy after being served with divorce papers. The anger enraged him to tell everyone close to him that he was going to destroy all the marital property, take their only child and murder his wife. He spent thirteen hours beating their house with a slug hammer, every fixture, appliance, every wall—everything! He said after that the “hammer” would be his sign. Shortly thereafter he kidnapped his daughter taking her to Florida. He stopped off in Tennessee where the daughter escaped to the front counter of the hotel, the police were called, and the child was returned to her mother. A week later, on a Saturday Mr. Ponke went to his wife’s place of employment, a dentist office, and while his wife was assisting the dentist working on a patient, Mr. Ponke struck his wife in the head over 50 times with a claw hammer. I argued that Mr. Ponke was criminally insane.
Bunn v Bunn
The first child custody case I tried occurred shortly after the murder trial. The mother had brought allegations of domestic violence and argued she should be awarded custody. My client was also charged with domestic violence, a case that was eventually dismissed prior to the custody case. But the Friend of the Court recommended that custody be changed to the mother and the custody case proceeded to trial. The trial took 22 days and involved three expert witnesses. During the case I had a Perry Mason moment; the mother was the last witness and my client had provided a Christmas Card that was most damaging to her position. The card said she was sorry for all she did to my client and described details. In the end, it said she loved him, and she always had. I knew she would say the card was given during the relationship and she was forced by him to write it; however, the copyright date on the back was a year after they broke up. I had her admit to the card, everything it said, and she said she gave it to him during the marriage. I confirmed she was sure and there was no doubt. When she read the copyright date, in dramatic form, she admitted she loved my client and everything in the card is true.
I went to trial on over two dozen cases in my first two years practicing and I loved it; I loved the strategy, I loved everything about it. I became a fierce litigator and marketed my services as a “tough litigator”. Having now practiced many years I have overcome my self-centered desire to perform, focusing now on a sound understanding that any strategy, especially in family law, must look first to love, forgiveness in the family and integrity. What is important is my client, his/her family and providing all solutions available while considering fierce litigation as the last alternative.
What three characteristics are important for family law litigation?
It is necessary to have an attorney who is a fierce litigator.
It is equally important for your attorney to have love, forgiveness and absolute integrity.
Most divorces need financial help. We have a team of financial advisers, wealth managers, and strategic planners who are important in deciding income, property division, how to live on half, college planning, retirement planning and everywhere in between. Proper financial planning may be the most important aspect of the case.
Why did you pick family law?
When I was 18 my high school sweetheart became pregnant and we were married. A year later she left me. The rejection and divorce process were the most difficult thing I had ever overcome. I was awarded custody of our child, graduated from MSU and went through law school while working full time for three Circuit Court Judges. When I started my own firm, I gravitated towards divorce and family law; it allowed me to help clients through a process that I knew first-hand how painful it can be.
Do you have any goals you wish to accomplish in 2019?
Expand the movement of love, forgiveness and integrity not only in the divorce process, but in your finances and every aspect of life. I am currently writing a book and I hope to have it published this year.
Timothy R. Ash
Legal Website: www.AshandAsh.org
Financial Website: www.Ashfinancial.org
Family law and divorce actions are highly emotional. In many cases the parties involved can, unknowingly, be their own worst enemy. Finances are always at the center of contention. We provide our clients with a financial team of experts who can equip you with objective findings that not only prepare you for the litigation but allow you to look beyond your difficulties to a brighter future.