Posts Tagged ‘Divorce Fighting’

aggressive lawyerThere is a fine line in divorce and family law between assertively pressing your case and literally fighting about each and every issue all the time. Recently, I was asked by a family member to refer her to a good divorce attorney (both parties were too close personally to represent her myself). I considered several colleagues who are very competent, but settled on giving her the names of two lawyers  in particular. In discussing these choices with the family member, I told her that in my opinion there’s a fine line between assertively and aggressively representing a client and being so obnoxious and aggressive that an attorney only makes the situation worse for the client and the family. In any particular case, this line can be easily crossed. I thought these two individuals wouldn’t back down, but they also weren’t likely to create conflicts unnecessarily.

Unfortunately, there are many overly aggressive lawyers, and some members of the public think this is a great thing. The reality of the situation is that most family law and/or divorce cases settle in the end and only a small percentage go to trial. If there are children involved, the parties almost always will have to maintain some type of working relationship after the litigation. In many areas of family law, there is room for win-win arrangements that accrue to the benefit of both parties. If the attorneys are constantly battling and fail to really communicate the opportunities for these arrangements are lost.

If the matter does go to trial, there are usually limited areas of disagreement and it is also helpful if the parties can agree on some issues if only for the reason of limiting costs.

Some attorneys promote the image of being “aggressive” – which often means they are looking to run up a bill and usually leave their clients angry and their families and children in ongoing turmoil. No matter how angry or upset you are with your spouse, don’t make the mistake of hiring such an attorney.

This is not to say that your attorney should be a passive wallflower. But, you should always keep in mind that there is a fine line and that your attorney’s job is to do what’s best for you, the client. A good family law attorney willl be assertive and aggressive in representing your interests, but will choose his  (and your) battles wisely.

As the song has it, “Money changes everything.” Without a doubt, one of the most frequent causes of divorce is financial discord between the partners. One or both spouses’ debt may become unmanageable, whether through indulgence or carelessness, or through unfortunate circumstances beyond one’s control. As the mountain of debt soars higher, personal and marital stress may also increase, leading to partners deciding to part ways.

As you no doubt have seen, whether in personal experience or in the movies, much of divorce proceedings may focus on property division, but debt division can be equally contentious, especially where two marital partners are equally responsible for the debt, even if that debt was incurred by only one of the spouses. So what happens in divorce? Generally, debt is divided in the same manner as assets; that is, the court aims for equitable division of debt.

Thus, debt that is acquired during the marriage (and possibly leading up to the marriage) will be equally divided….maybe. Many factors come into play, and you should most definitely discuss your unique circumstances with a qualified divorce attorney. For example, a short-term marriage may not hew to this rule of thumb. Other exceptions include cases where one spouse garners debt through spending money on an extramarital affair, where the other spouse should not be obligated to repay that debt, or where one spouse has a gambling habit and has gambled his or her way deep into debt (however, if the other spouse had knowledge of the gambling habit, and benefited therefrom when the first spouse was winning, a judge may find that the debt should be divided equally between the partners).

These are but a few examples. As a very complex and vital area in a potential divorce proceeding, the only good advice is to seek the counsel of a qualified divorce lawyer to examine your circumstances in depth.

Usually divorce clients are seeking advice regarding what they should do in a divorce. But there are ten things you should NOT do.

1. Do not sign anything just because your spouse says you should. Always have any documents reviewed by your legal counsel.

2. Prior to the divorce, do not panic, do not make any major decisions or take any actions (such as leaving the marital home) without first consulting legal counsel.

3. Do not discuss the divorce with the children; however, you shouldn’t hide the divorce from your children, either. They will be sensitive to the situation, and honesty is the best policy with them. Let them know that the divorce is not their fault in any way, and that you and your spouse have your own issues to cope with.

4. Likewise, do not use your kids as “go-betweens” or in any way put them in the middle of the conflict. Do not bad mouth your spouse to your kids.

5. Although you may feel deeply violated and wronged in the marriage, do not threaten your spouse with vindictive claims like “You’ll never see our kids again!” or “I’ll take you for everything you’re worth!” Instead, take the high road and let your attorney and the court work to resolve all issues.

6. Do not agree to capitulate and surrender everything just because you want to get out of the marriage as quickly as possible, or because you still love your spouse and you think that by giving in, he or she will not go through with the divorce.

7. No matter how well-intended or similar to your situation a friend’s experience may be, do not take your friend’s advice as legal counsel. Only a qualified attorney is in a position and has the wide experience needed to give the best legal advice.

8. Do not procrastinate: the temptation to remain in the situation you know, however unpleasant, can keep you from getting out from under a dysfunctional marriage. Remember that staying put is much easier than making a major life change, but that that change may be what is best for you in the long haul.]

9. Do not overlook the small things, however insignificant they may seem, may be important later: make duplicates of the family album, videos of the kids playing, or other small, personal items, so that neither of you feels cheated. Buy duplicate CDs or other items that are deeply sentimental for both of you.

10. Do not complain to your family and friends about your insufferable marriage or how horrid your spouse is.

The information contained in this blog is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. The use of this Blog does not create an attorney/client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Barry R. Lewis. If you are considering divorce or if you are involved in any legal matter, you should hire an attorney.

Massachusetts Divorce and Family Law
Attorney Barry R. Lewis — Divorce Law Specialist
Locations Throughout Eastern & Central Massachusetts :: 508-879-3262