For those of you who know me – I used to be a lively spirited, extremely caring, energetic person. I probably still am DEEEEEEEEEP down inside, but I’ll admit, I’ve been swimming in chronic negativity for the past 5 years and I am super tired of fighting. And it’s due to caregiver (compassion) fatigue.
I have been a divorce attorney for two decades/ In these glorious 20 years, I have been the subject of ridicule among corporate and “smarter” type lawyers (in law school, it was often heard “You better study, or else you’ll end up a family lawyer.”); threats such as “I’ll report you to the State Bar if you don’t sign this extremely one-sided agreement”, “I’ll bury you alive!”
I’ve been stalked, cyberstalked (from opposing parties who are representing themselves), treated like crap, denigrated, condescended and cursed out by opposing counsel (some of whom are just being mean to cover up their incompetency, or some who are just straight up assholes), owed over $500,000 from past clients (I literally can retire on the money I am owed from past clients).
Death Threats to Family Lawyers Everywhere
Last week, there was a dead crow on my front door step. A few years ago, I received this lovely threatening note.
Oh, and the death threats! Those are always so much fun. Most family lawyers have experienced them. In fact, you wanna know which types of lawyers are murdered most often? You guessed it – family lawyers. Sara Quirt Sann was a divorce lawyer shot by her client’s ex-husband. Bryan Young, another divorce lawyer, was also shot and killed by his client’s ex husband. Divorce lawyer Antonio Mari – also shot by client’s ex-husband. This Arizona man shot and killed 6 people who handled his divorce case – 10 years after his divorce!!
Nobody Likes Paying Divorce Lawyers
It’s so funny when I hear people talk about their lawyers as such, “They don’t care about anything but money” – when they owe their lawyer $5,000, or $50,000. Can you imagine if you owed your babysitter even $50? Do you think they would keep babysitting your kids?
I am tired. Really, really tired. I wanted to take the time to write this post because maybe this post will change the world! Or at least stop me from up and leaving family law before I hit the Powerball lottery.
Family lawyers are not weapons of mass destruction.
Many people believe that paying 1 million dollars to the best lawyer in the world will prevent the other side (a perfectly good parent) from getting custody. That is not true. It’s so demented that anyone can actually believe you can pay a good lawyer to gain custody. Custody is based on the best interests of the child. Obviously if the other side is hoarding the children and not allowing visitation, you should definitely seek the help of a lawyer. But, no amount of money will separate a perfectly good parent from the child. And someone who is a cheater or a liar, or unemployed, or mean – doesn’t equate with being a bad parent. That’s right – just because your husband had weird sex with a prostitute…doesn’t mean he isn’t a good father.
Sure, there are many tricks of the trade. Angie used them on Brad. You can call DCFS, and file restraining orders. If you have it, spent lots of money on custody evaluators. But in the end, you can’t “pay” for custody. In the end, it is still believed by the Legislature that the best interests for your children is to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents. Yes, even if the mother is a crackhead banging a gangbanger. And yes, even if the father doesn’t pay child support and doesn’t feed the kids organic food.
Free, Updated Blog to Help You
I spent countless non-billable hours writing articles and educating the public on California family law and practice. The reason I keep such an updated blog is I hope it will educate the many of you going through a divorce. There are choices out there. When and if you hire an attorney, please use them as a guide – they are not weapons of mass destruction. You should never say to your spouse, “I saw a divorce lawyer today and they will take you to the cleaners”. Instead, you should say, “I saw a divorce lawyer today and I learned a whole bunch of stuff. But the most important thing I learned is to keep it civil for the sake of the children and try to explore mediation. You with me?”
The more society believes its own lies about what divorce lawyers do, the more it opens the doors for unscrupulous lawyers to prey on the vulnerable emotional people in our field. All this writing I do is unpaid, but it’s worth it to me to create a better family law community.
Family lawyers are not therapists, nor life coaches.
Family lawyers are not therapists. That’s why we get more death threats than therapists do. No one ever thinks the other side’s therapist is out to destroy them. For some reason, many people believe the other side’s divorce attorney is out to get them, and targeting them. It simply isn’t true. Here is the truth, divorce lawyers don’t and should not get personally invested in the outcome of the divorce. It shouldn’t be and isn’t their life. It’s a paycheck , just like any job. And had your spouse consulted with him and retained him first, he would be representing your spouse instead of you.
Family Lawyers Are Not Weapons of Mass Destruction
Therefore, do NOT believe that your divorce attorney wants to destroy the other side. (and do NOT believe they are capable of destroying the other side – see number 1 above – they are not weapons of mass destruction). They may advocate for you if the other side is being unreasonable. But the mark of a TRULY excellent family lawyer is that they also tell YOU when you’re being unreasonable. This isn’t a personal injury case – where you were stricken by a stranger who ran a red light. This is family law – where the other side is the one who formerly shared your bed. You share bank accounts. Homes. CHILDREN.
Again, family lawyers are not therapists. We do listen to a lot of stuff (most of my $500 consults which are suppose to be for the purpose of legal advice are spent listening to people’s stories, who frankly, can be told to a friend, a mother, or a therapist).
I am not sure what life coaches do, but I can tell you I’m NOT one. If I was capable of changing my life, I wouldn’t still be a family lawyer. (Just kidding! I probably still would be, maybe). I don’t advise people on their lives. This includes, should you marry this guy? Should you leave your wife? Are your in-laws crossing the line? Do you let your kids go with the new boyfriend?
Divorce lawyers should not take on the cases of family and friends.
I am tired. So so so very tired. My every day is filled with initial consults with people in pain. Millions of deadlines from extremely boring discovery. Frantic phone calls replete with emotional outbursts and alleged emergencies. I’ll tell you – I did have one emergency once. My client had a court order, and the other side came and took the kid and kidnapped him for 3 days. That was really awful. The rest of the stuff: he withdrew 25,000! He threatened he won’t pay the mortgage! The bastard stole car keys! She didn’t list me as the contact at school! The rest of this – isn’t an emergency.
At the end of the day, I am tired and spent. I probably skipped lunch and I haven’t called my husband or parents. After 8-12 billable hours (this means at least i am making money) of listening to people in pain, I simply don’t have it in me to listen to my friends or family in pain (for free). I know this sounds callous, but it’s true. And if I know the couple, it makes it worse. I want to shake them and say, “Work it out! Do you want to spend 200k paying attorneys? ” I want to say, “Stop drinking so damn much!” “Stop beating your wife!” “Start cooking!” “Start taking care of your family!” “Stop flirting on Facebook!” Family lawyers should never get involved in the divorces/separations of friends.
If You are Friends with a Family Lawyer, Please Respect Boundaries.
And people, please. If you have a friend who is a family lawyer, please treat them with respect. Don’t use them and abuse them like toilet paper. Understand that their time is limited and valuable and don’t spend hours torturing them with your horror stories for free. In fact, if you have a friend who is a family lawyer, the best thing you can do – is ask them to give you a good referral. Good fences make good neighbors – boundaries!
We are suffering caregiver’s fatigue. After listening to so many painful stories, and not having time to take care of myself or my own family, shutdown is inevitable. I don’t want to get involved in my friends or family’s divorces. I also don’t have the time, energy or capacity to offer “free consults”. No reputable family lawyer does. You can read more about NO FREE CONSULTS here.
Common signs and symptoms of caregiver stress
To those who owe me money – you are contributing to my caretaker fatigue and preventing me from retiring.