What does a divorce attorney do? Recently, as I was talking to a client about an upcoming mediation, he said, “…wow, that doesn’t sound like what I’ve seen on television.” I have also seen someone post that divorce attorneys fill out forms. We do more than fill out forms; no, it’s not like what you see on television.
We are guides, we are counselors, and we do a little bit of law on the side. I am not minimizing the law; divorce in various states can be highly complicated. Law can be learned. Applying it is another thing. Family law attorneys must also understand tax law, accounting, investments, real estate, and cryptocurrency.
But more importantly, we need to know early childhood education, adolescent psychology, and best parenting practices. We are counselors to our clients. When a client asks me a question, I ask, “what does your therapist say?” Their response is usually “about what you just told me.” I have to emphasize that I am not a licensed therapist.
We are highly trained and care a lot. I am dismayed when I hear people say, “…let’s leave the lawyers out of this.”
Every case is different. We are dealing with people’s lives and seeing them at one of their worst moments. Let’s face it; they are not always at their best. Hurt, anger, fear, and sometimes revenge are everyday feelings.
We have to calm people down and help them put their cases together. I heard a quote from a judge I think is fitting: “Do you hate your spouse more than you love your children?”
Often I hear someone say they want an aggressive lawyer. I suggest that means you will spend much money, have a miserable experience, and get the same result. “Oh, but my neighbor got……..”. You do not know all the facts of your neighbor’s case; seriously, you do not.
Are there alternatives to using lawyers for a divorce? You can get a divorce online. But why would you? I have seen the results of some of these. Did you inadvertently create a tax liability? You filed in a county on the other side of the state so you wouldn’t have to go before a judge. People are surprised when I tell them they never have to go before a judge if they can agree. What if you start out agreeing, and then the discussion breaks down? An attorney can help you avoid pitfalls.
While ethics rules provide that an attorney cannot offer dual representation, sometimes one attorney can guide you to an amicable resolution while representing one party.
Sometimes it is better to have two attorneys, but it does not have to be adversarial.
Family law can be challenging. It can be gratifying. You may be surprised what family law attorneys do.