Posts Tagged ‘Unnecessary Divorce Conflicts’

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.

Tips to avoid a restraining orderIt happens over and over again. The subject of divorce comes up, or a divorce case is filed. Emotions run high and, before you know it, the other spouse runs out and convinces a judge that they are in fear of “imminent physical harm” and gets an ex parte (without notice) restraining order. Unfortunately, there are too many instances of serious domestic violence in our society.

In many instances the only real threat involved is the fear of bad publicity to the Judge. From the standpoint of the Judge – if he has 1000 people asking for a restraining order and he turns them down and only 1 party goes “postal” the Judge’s picture will be on the front page of the papers and all over social media. There are many Judges who rarely turn down any request for a restraining order no matter how flimsy the basis!

The mere presence of a restraining order can prevent a person from working in certain fields (notably education and health care) and make visiting with your children much more difficult. And a vindictive spouse (or ex-spouse) can even use alleged violations to have you incarcerated.

There are a number of ways to prevent a restraining order from happening:

  • Avoid being alone with your spouse! If you must engage your spouse in conversations, do so in a public place and try to keep them calm. If your spouse shows signs of losing it, leave! When the police are called it is usually the man who is taken away.
  • If you can’t remain calm – don’t contact your spouse. If you with your spouse and you find yourself losing it – leave!
  • Never threaten your spouse or assault your spouse physically in any manner – this includes breaking things and throwing things.
  • Lastly, if your spouse does obtain a restraining order – strongly consider fighting the restraining order. An experienced attorney can review the facts of the situation and give you an opinion as to whether you have a chance of convincing the Court to drop the restraining order.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!


So you’ve decided to proceed with your divorce, to get out from under a situation that has prevented you from fully living your life as is best for you. But now, facing a future without a spouse, you may feel very alone and isolated. You may benefit from some kind of support system to handle your new life alone. There are several places you can turn, from your network of family and friends to more organized support groups specifically tailored to recent divorcees. How do you find such a support group? Your attorney may well know of a group in your area that would work for you. Or you may talk with friends or business associates who have been divorced to see if they can refer a group to you.

Support group notices are often posted on church bulletin boards, in newspapers, or your local library. An advantage to a support group is such groups offer an environment where you can unburden yourself of your situation, without burdening your friends and family members with complaining that they don’t want to hear and that you don’t want to weaken your relationships.

Yes, your friends and family will be part of your wider support group, as opposed to a specific group that meets regularly to share experiences. But they may not welcome what they may perceive as an excess of whining or self-indulgence. Also remember that those friends who you have in common with your ex may or may not choose to continue as your friends. Some may, which you will welcome, but others may feel divided loyalities between you and your ex and side with him or her. It is also good to keep in mind that “mutual” friends may serve as a conduit of information to your soon-to-be ex-spouse, so discretion should be exercised when sharing information with them.

Kevin and Donna are in the early stages of divorce proceedings. Kevin is 32 and Donna is 28, and they have three children, ages 3, 5 and 7. Kevin alleges that, over the past couple of months, Donna has introduced the children to her boyfriend, confusing the kids by calling him their new daddy. Kevin feels that this undermines his position as their father and that Donna is attempting to drive a wedge between him and the children. For his part, while Kevin has casually dated a couple of women including a co-worker, he has deliberately kept his dates separate from his family and has not introduced nor even mentioned them to the kids. What recourse does Kevin have?

Although judges tend to vary significantly on this issue, most judges will prohibit a party to a divorce from exposing the children to a third party romantic relationship while the divorce is pending. This can make it very difficult for a party to a divorce who is residing with or spending a substantial amount of time with his/her new boyfriend/girlfriend. In fact, many times the other party will use the relationship to make it more difficult for the romantically involved spouse to exercise their visitation rights. This occurs particularly often when a spouse is angry and vindictive and often exacerbates the difficulties between the parties.

For these and a variety of other reasons, if possible it is highly advisable to avoid exposing children to new romantic partners and relationships while the divorce is still “fresh”. Often these relationships do not turn out to be long term relationships and they usually create ill will and bad feelings between the parties. Even if the children are not exposed to the third party romantic relationship, it is advisable to keep these relationships low key to avoid angering the other spouse, enflaming the situation and creating greater difficulties in the process of divorce.

Be wary of advice such as always file first, always get a restraining order – or – you always should try to have an amicable divorce. Advice which may make perfect sense in one situation may be a disaster in another. As you are working toward that amicable divorce, your spouse might be quietly hiding assets – or – that restraining order might unnecessarily jeopardize the employment of your spouse. In short, each situation should be analyzed on its own merit. What has been your spouse’s history? Does your spouse usually follow rules? Is your spouse someone who has real violent tendencies – or – Is this a situation where your spouse is temporarily stressed? What is your spouse’s relationship with your children?

What are your goals and objectives? Given the particular circumstances of your individual case, what strategy makes sense for you? Discuss your options in detail with your divorce attorney.

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