People, like yourself, who are going through a
divorce have a lot of questions typically. What is going to happen to your relationship
with your children? Are you going to have to pay spousal maintenance?
Who gets what “stuff” in the property division. These are
all relevant questions that understandably you would like answers to.
The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, who offer free of charge
consultations, are happy to answer whatever questions you would like no
matter what they may be.
However, one question that I will receive on occasion that I will always
find interesting is what is my relationship like with the attorney that
their spouse has hired. These folks will have been served with divorce
papers and now have questions about the lawyer that their spouse has hired.
I don’t know the real reason why these folks ask me about my relationship
with the other attorney but I could speculate that they want to know if
I know him or her to determine if I may be able to work out a settlement
with him or her. That’s the thing about divorce- everybody is looking
for a quick road to the end of case before the beginning has even had
an opportunity to crystalize.
Why an attorney can determine the course of your case
While this is not a formal reason why a divorce may or may not last long
or be especially contentious, the attorneys that you and your spouse select
can and will likely have a tremendous impact on your case. Some attorneys
are mean, spiteful and love to stir up trouble. The law is a sport and
your divorce is the arena for him or her to display their fighting technique.
These folks want nothing more than a nice, long case to fight for their
ego and will bill you for the pleasure of doing so.
Other attorneys (I think most) will be tough and strong advocates but will
also look for opportunities to settle on issues into avoid having a long
and drawn out case. Imagine if you and your spouse both choose attorneys
that belong to this group, rather than attorneys that belong to the group
in the prior paragraph. Don’t you think that your divorce would
run a lot smoother and be more prone to having intelligent negotiation
rather than unnecessary finger pointing and courtroom drama?
My point is that your divorce will take on the characteristics and the
tone of the attorneys representing the clients. While you and your spouse
may not get along well at all, that does not mean that you all will have
to spend the entirety of your divorce fighting with one another. It is
well worth your trouble to find an attorney that you believe will fight
for you, but will be respectful while doing so. Lawyers do need to pick
fights sometimes if your rights are in jeopardy but those opportunities
are hopefully few and far between.
Experienced attorneys can push you towards the negotiation table
Suppose that your attorney and your spouse’s attorney are experienced
and effective advocates for their clients. When your attorney contacts
their attorney it is more likely that 1) he/she will pick up the phone
and start to talk about solutions for their client. It should not be lost
that a good attorney sees a divorce as a problem and will work to devise
a solution to that problem.
A less experienced attorney may see a divorce as cause to anger opposing
counsel into making decisions that are not in their client’s best
interests. Usually this will not be the end result, however. From my experience
if the opposing attorney in a divorce proves to be difficult to work with
at the beginning of a case that will make it likely that I will not want
to work with him or her as the case gets older either. This causes cases
to lengthen a great deal. The longer the case, the more attorney’s
fees that are paid and the more expensive your case tends to be.
Getting a diagnostic impression of a divorce case is not difficult
Your attorney should be able to diagnose the important issues in your case
that will allow your attorney and your spouse’s attorney to negotiate
and exchange important information. If figuring out how to take care of
a large amount o debt is the major axis on which your case turns, then
that ought to be figured out early. Basically you want an attorney that
is able to fight for your rights but not necessarily fight your opposing spouse.
When you are determining what attorney you should hire, ask him or her
in an interview how they see your case playing out and what he or she
would do at the outset of your case to determine what direction is the
likeliest for your case to take. If your attorney spends more time talking
about what he or she can do against your spouse than for you, you may
want to look in another direction for representation.
Beware the attorney who loves to poke at the opposing lawyer. I think any
attorney who has been involved in a divorce case can tell you about an
opposing attorney who spent seemingly all day, everyday filing motions
with the court, sending emails about inane issues and generally stirring
up calm waters. Every issue was an opportunity to beat their chests and
attempt to cause animosity between the parties.
If you have been hurt by your spouse you may look at this and think that
this is a good thing. After all- if your spouse saw fit to hurt you, then
you may want to do the same thing to him or her. I would caution you on
the intelligence of this plan, however. The fact remains that your goal
in this divorce should not be to take your spouse for all their worth
and to upset him or her.
The point is to reach a fair result and costs each side as little in the
way of time and money as possible. While it may be fun to think about
sending your attorney in to do battle against your spouse’s attorney
the novelty of this wears off pretty quickly. What you’re left with
is a case that seemingly will not end with no good will between the parties
to bridge gaps.
How does your attorney view negotiation and mediation?
Ultimately, your case will likely end up in
mediation. This is where you and your attorney, and your spouse and theirs select
a third party attorney to help you both negotiate a settlement. Usually
both sides will end up at the mediator’s office in separate rooms
and the mediator will act like a ping pong ball, bouncing back and forth
between the rooms to help a settlement be hammered out.
Some attorneys view this as an opportunity to try out different negotiating
tactics. A good attorney will view mediation as an opportunity to end
a case and their client to move on with the rest of their life. I know
it is going to be a long day in mediation when the first settlement offer
or counter offer received from the opposing attorney is nothing close
to reasonable. This either means that there is a legitimate discrepancy
in how both sides view the case, or the opposing attorney is digging their
heels and are taking the rest of us along for the ride.
Questions on the importance of attorneys to the end result of your divorce?
Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
The attorneys with the
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC take a great deal of pride in knowing how to stand up for our clients
in a respectful manner. One that allows our clients to achieve their goals
and shorten, rather than lengthen, their divorce case. To learn more about
our office and our attorneys please do not hesitate to
contact us today. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with our
licensed family law attorneys.