10 Huge Divorce Mistakes: 6: Run From the “Warrior” Divorce Lawyer
David D. Stein © Liaise® Mediated Solutions, LLC 2015
Liaise Divorce Solutions serves as something of a resource for people who have questions about divorce. We offer a free consultation to parties who wish to explore the possibility of mediation and many times we are responding to questions on the phone and through the mail that parties pose regarding the process.
This is the sixth in a series of articles on critical divorce mistakes to avoid.
You hear it on radio advertisements. You see it on TV and the Internet. “Divorce for Men Only”, “Exclusively Representing Women in Divorce”, or “Aggressive Divorce Lawyer”. Don’t just walk away from these legal service providers, run!
If you are going through a divorce you may be angry, disappointed and even vengeful. That sort of mindset makes you vulnerable to lawyers playing on your emotions who try to characterize a divorce as some sort of battle. In point of fact this is civil litigation and the more civil you can keep it, the better for all concerned.
Some people have a mental image of their bold attorney as a lion in the courtroom, hurling devastating objections, artfully skewering their spouse with withering cross-examination and delivering a final argument that has the judge completely enthralled while the opposing counsel wilts in confusion and disarray!
Let me tell you, it aint gonna happen. It doesn’t work that way. In point of fact, if your matter is heading to trial, it is a disaster for you, your soon to be ex-spouse, your family and everyone concerned, with the notable exception of your lawyers. Your lawyers will be very well paid and in the aftermath of the expensive litigation they will have well practiced platitudes with which to console you. Such as, “Sorry, the other side has been stonewalling and made this very expensive”, or the always fashionable, “It costs a lot of time and money to protect your rights!” Yes of course, lots of money.
The truth is that going into a divorce with an attorney who advertises aggression is the best way to assure that you get aggression right back and the resulting fees will drastically reduce the money available to divide with your spouse.
I have served as an arbitrator for my local Bar Association deciding attorney client fee disputes. Many, if not most, of these disputes involve divorce lawyers and their clients. I have observed that there is a direct proportion to how “aggressively” the divorce has been handled and the fees the client will endure. Sadly, there is also the same proportional relationship to the satisfaction the client receives. The simple takeaway lesson is if you go looking for a fight, that is exactly what you will get and the only people to pay the price are you, your family and your spouse.
Be smart. Instead of looking to fight, look for areas of agreement to build upon and achieve a settlement. Be very mindful of spending thousands to argue over hundreds. Know that almost all cases settle. The sooner you can get into a settlement posture; the better off you will be both financially and emotionally.
This advice may seem simple and obvious, but we wouldn’t be saying it if we hadn’t seen it all too many times.
David D. Stein has been an attorney for 30+ years and the founder of Liaise® Divorce Solutions. He is a trained mediator, dispute resolution specialist and lecturer on non-violent conflict management techniques and tools.
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