If you can manage it, get through your divorce with as little family law industry personnel involved as possible. Almost every person that works in the family law industry and even your friends will say, “you need an attorney!” Newsflash, they don’t REALLY know and if they work in the industry, they have ulterior motives. Your friends, family or co-workers only tell you, you need an attorney because it seems to make sense. Initially you feel you are at a disadvantage if your estranged spouse has an attorney and you do not, if you’re working full-time and you have children you will probably have to get an attorney if the children are with you most the time; however, if you have a good support system and your work schedule is flexible, explore representing yourself or filing online. If you find you must start talking with attorneys you need to be aware of these 6 topics that fly under the radar:
#1 The attorney will not tell you to go without an attorney, it conflicts with their livelihood. An attorney knows the system and the divorce system is designed to make money. If you hire an attorney, you still use your time and energy to explain everything to your attorney. Additionally, you must review all paperwork they prepare, because your signature is required on every form. Whether you are the petitioner (the person who filed for the divorce) or the respondent (the person responding to the person who filed); an attorney will not grasp your position as much as you. Every state has rules and regulations on how they do things, your divorce will follow those rules and regulations; you will not be the exception because you hired a good attorney.
#2 The attorney will not tell you they don’t care directly. It’s unimaginable that people can become so calloused; however, they probably did not start out that way. The system grooms people to become desensitized to your situation. It’s only natural. Family law people put on a caring façade to gain your trust (there are some exceptions, but few). The more people they’ve worked with, the less caring they typically are. There is no way they could face their work day without that hard shell, because to be good at what they do, they must manipulate the other side and manipulate you too. Remember they are also charging you an arm and a leg at the same time whether you can afford it or not. Married celebrities, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, discovered this late in the game according to Vanity Fair and finally decided to go with a private judge which minimizes attorney and media manipulation, plus keeps things private from the public.
#3 The attorney will not tell you your story DOESN’T matter to the court. This is huge! If you already have an attorney you are already somewhat familiar with the preparation that is required to file the paperwork or forms with the court. The first declaration forms go to great lengths to set the backdrop behind the reasons for the divorce. Hours upon hours are spent by you and your attorney to arrive at a reasonably true story. If you don’t have a caring attorney, the attorney will input drama where needed and hyperbole to make the story more compelling so the judge finds it interesting to read. What’s worse is that these lies are never refuted at the hearing. The story is filed as fact and then the other person can submit their own declaration (link example is from California) refuting the lies, but there is no consensus.
#4 The attorney will not tell you the judge will make an order or decline making an order as they see fit regardless of your attorney’s performance or the damages that accrued in the relationship. The judge sees numerous cases a day, you are just a number. If the judge had a bad morning and you show emotion, 2 strikes against whatever you think is a fair compromise. All the while, your attorney sits there helpless and you paid them to sit there helpless. Every hearing has an objective set by the judge or opposing council, so if the situation that is rectified before the date on the court’s calendar you cannot replace that objective with something else. The date is removed from calendar and if there’s another topic that needs to be addressed you or your attorney must file a motion to put it back on calendar. What does this do? It prolongs the divorce and keeps the legal tab open.
#5 The attorney will not tell you to always show up in court or the other side will have the advantage. This is a common-sense scenario. From the judge’s perspective if you didn’t take the time to appear in court you automatically have less authority and skin in the game even though you sent your attorney to represent you. If you truly don’t care, this could work for you, but if you truly do care, always appear in court.
#6 If you live in a liberal state and have children, judges & attorneys do not follow “best interests of the child” doctrine. Shocking I know! Family law is like the Wild West. There are very few absolutes and all kinds of grey area. For the court to care about the children in an abusive situation, the spouse in question MUST have a criminal record and/or the abuse must be verified by a professional 3rd party.
Think twice before seeking an attorney to file for divorce. If you loved your spouse at least for a moment during your marriage, save yourself the stress and heartache that comes along with the attorney representation package. The judge in every divorce case bases their decision on previous case decisions and if the judge breaks the law and favors the other side unjustly you can appeal. If you think your spouse will get an attorney, seek advice from an attorney, but talk to many, because if you go with a calloused one you’ll be in for a long haul.