The Myth of a Divorce Attorney
Mention “divorce attorney”, and most people conjure up images of perfectly-coifed jerks in suits, lambasting the other side for toxic abuse, seeking sole custody of children and dogs like they’re property.
The reality is, lawyers like them DO exist. And, if DESTROYING your spouse, DESTROYING your family, and “winning” is what you blindly seek, behold, there are plenty of fish in the sea. Enter pitbull lawyer! There are attorneys who advertise that!
No One Wins in Divorce
I caution you to speak with a therapist – or better yet, someone with personal experience. Ask anyone who has been through a nasty divorce if they felt like they “won”. No one wins in divorce.
Family law is special. There are no winners, because of simple math. You start with half in property. Which is fine and dandy. If you have children, it’s a bit more difficult, because children are not property. You can’t easily cut them in half.
Conflict Resolution is an Essential Skill
That being said, I believe an excellent divorce attorney must possess the skill of conflict resolution.
Groan from the peanut gallery. I get it. Conflict resolution is SO NOT SEXY. The audience is here for the bloodbath! Don’t you know? That’s why Hollywood movies about divorcing couples portray such violence, disturbing behaviors of separating parents. (See What Maisie Knew; The Squid and the Whale, War of the Roses; Kramer v Kramer).
I hate divorce movies, because most of them propogate the misconception that all divorces must end in destruction. Very unhealthy.
I recommend Marriage Story. That’s a movie worth watching if you are going through divorce.
CONFLICT is the beating heart of divorce. It is what fuels the “crazy” and “toxic” behaviors in perfectly good people. Conflict, if not resolved, will lead nowhere. You are just spinning around, fighting.
Your lawyer should know how to RESOLVE conflict, NOT promote it.
Confliction Resolution Does Not Mean Rolling Over and Playing Dead
Why do people think settlement is weak?
An informed settlement is SMART. An uninformed settlement is unwise. But an uninformed litigant destroys.
The best way to approach your divorce is to seek the knowledge of the law.
Essential Questions for Divorce Attorney
When approaching a divorce, here are some questions you should be asking the divorce attorney.
- How does the law apply to issues of child custody, child support, spousal support and property division?
- If I don’t have the proper information, what are my options to obtain that information?
- Is going to Court necessary in my case?
- What are my best case and worst case scenarios if we go to Court, along with a estimate of attorneys’ fees and costs.
- Will you provide options for settlement for each stage of the divorce?
- What are the steps of divorce, and what can I expect at each stage?
- How do you treat conflict from opposing counsel?
Conflict Resolution v. Trial Skills
“Trial skills” are overvalued and “conflict resolution skills” are undervalued in family law.
Considering 90% of family law cases are settled prior to trial, and nearly 100% of family law cases have conflict, an excellent divorce attorney MUST be skilled in resolving conflict.
Unlike civil law, the object isn’t winning. Divorce is a restructure of the family unit. More than ever, families need healing, and the stress, uncertainty and expense of court does everything opposite of that.