Ok. So my title is a little tongue n cheeky.
However I have come away with some good common sense basic principals from these tv judge shows.
1 – Money. Never ever ever lend or borrow money individually. I don’t care who it is – bff, significant other, roomate, relative, coworker. Just don’t – no matter how much you trust them. If it can’t be avoided : get something in writing that specifically states it is meant as a loan (not a gift). Also the time frame in which it is expected to be paid back and the payment amount. Keep that documentation – forever. Never cosign a loan for anyone else either!
Also with any personal property (like a computer). If you let someone else “borrow it” make sure there is documentation what the understanding is. Likely you are not “giving” it to them – just letting them use it for a while.
2 – Vehicles. Never ever ever let another individual borrow your car. Never cosign a loan for another person for a car. Just don’t. Always maintain your license, registration and insurance in good standing and have those on you at all times. You may think nothing will ever happen but it can and likely will. The sale of a vehicle should always have some sort of written documentation. Parties need to clear on any warranties (if applicable) and conditional issues. It goes without saying, but never, ever drive under the influence.
3. Contracts. Never rely on a verbal agreement for goods or services. Always always have some sort of written agreement. As Judge Milian (People’s Court) has said – if you have to get it on toilet paper and written in crayon (paraphrasing) that is better than a verbal.
4. Renters and Landlords: First, know the laws in your area regarding evictions, security deposits, who is responsible for maintenance issues etc. Always have some sort of written rental agreement, even if it is a very casual situation. Take date and time stamped pictures of the rental property at move in and move out. If you get into a dispute re: the security deposit or maintenance issue pictures will be worth 1000 words. Roomates . You don’t have to be Sheldon Cooper about it but I don’t think it is a bad idea to have a written “roomate agreement’ so there is an understanding how things will be taken care of and what is expected. How will rent and other common expenses be split? How will it be handled if things go south and someone moves out? And above all, make sure everyone living in the place gets their name on and signs the lease.
5. Become OCD about documentation. Take pictures. Keep receipts and paperwork. Keep track of names and dates. I think that is what so much of this comes down to. In civil court, the one who has sufficiently documented their side of things almost always gets the ruling in their favor. These days it is better to have it and never need it, than vice versa.
6. “Um”, “kind of” – vague responses are not an answer to a judge’s question. If you don’t remember or don’t know – simply say so honestly. Don’t waste a judges time. Tell your story truthfully, factually and concisely. Be prepared. Dress appropriately. Whether it is in an actual small claims situation or you get on one of these shows, don’t make a fool of yourself.
7. Judge Milian pointed out recently that a sincere apology for something that happened is never followed by “but”. I thought truer words were never spoken. (paraphrased)
8. Pets – always keep your pet(s) secure and under your control. It protects them and you. No matter how sweet you think your furball is, things can happen. Or something could happen to them. You as the pet owner or caretaker are responsible for their safety and behavior.
I am sure there is far more to be said, so feel free to add your own tips! I haven’t really addressed parents and kids. I am single and never been a parent. So don’t feel I should speak about what I don’t know first hand.
Final thought: If people really practiced the golden rule, a lot of these small disputes could be totally avoided.