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Sun Tzu, and the Art of a South Carolina Divorce

Posted by J. Benjamin Stevens | Feb 05, 2020 | 0 Comments

zen tree
Photo Credit: Faye Cornish

The oldest military treatise in the world is Sun Tzu on the Art of War. Litigation is often referred to in militaristic terms, which in today's world is a somewhat unfortunate reference. However, with that comparison in mind, I recently took a look at Lionel Giles' translation of Sun Tzu's work and found several interesting statements that are commonly thought applicable in both arenas.

All warfare is based on deception.

To be successful in a South Carolina Family Court litigation case, a lot of work on the part of the attorney and his client to properly plan and strategize for the best results. Like one of Sun Tzu's generals, the better the attorney or attorneys know how and when to use certain techniques to misdirect the opposing party's attention from weak points in the client's case, the better results overall for the client. 

Hold out baits to entice the enemy.

Just about every divorce or child custody case involves some form of "baiting" the opposing party with desired outcomes or with coveted property ownership, especially once the settlement negotiations begin. It's important for a client to be very clear with the attorney what goals and outcomes are most important to each party so the attorney can plan appropriately on what can be easily used as bait to achieve the desired results.

There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.

Both the attorney and his client should always keep the original end goal(s) at the forefront as they proceed through the stages of litigation. No one, especially a Family Court litigant, ever benefits from prolonged fighting (i.e. litigation) just for the sake of fighting. When child custody is also involved, such conduct can actually result in emotional damage, or in the most extreme cases, hatred and resentment toward one or both of the parents. 

In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.

Too many times, the parties (and sometimes even their attorneys) will get so caught up in trying to “win” the case that they lose sight of what is really important, the original purpose for going to Court (Sun Tzu's “great object of victory”). Having an experienced attorney can be invaluable, as we are able to use our perspective, objectivity, and experience to know the best way to wage the overall campaign. An experienced attorney knows all too well and will certainly advise his client that no one ever “wins” in a South Carolina divorce or child custody case.

The Stevens Firm, P.A. - Family Law Center has provided exceptional legal counsel and support to families throughout South Carolina for over two decades, handling all matters of family law, such as child custody, child support, and divorce. We are well-equipped to handle all divorce and family law matters, no matter your circumstances. Call our office today to schedule your initial consultation.

About the Author

J. Benjamin Stevens

Senior Partner


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