by Ken Harvey
No matter whether you are the person filing for a divorce or you are the one that will be responding to the divorce Petition, you will need to find an attorney to represent you. At the time this decision will be made, your emotions will likely be running high. Your spouse may have been unfaithful. Your spouse may have been verbally, emotionally and/or physically abusive towards you. Your spouse may have been financially irresponsible. These and other factors may understandably heighten your emotions and a natural response would be to hire an attorney that will attack your spouse to get you your pound of flesh that you feel that you deserve. There are many very capable attorneys out there that can do exactly that for you. However, before going full speed ahead, it would be wise to take a step back to see if this really is what you want to do.
It is very rare that the perceived wrongs of the other spouse are adequately addressed by the Court in the eyes of the victim. California is a no-fault divorce state which essentially means that marital fault is not relevant to the common issues found in divorce cases. Issues such as domestic violence will be reviewed by the Court when child custody and support are brought before it. Restraining orders may be issued to protect the victim but remedies such as monetary damages or an unequal division of the assets will not be made to compensate the victim. If getting revenge is not likely, does it make any sense to hire a shark to represent you?
What will your life after the divorce is finished look like? If you have unleashed your attorney to avenge the wrongs perpetrated against you, will the relationship with your former spouse be the kind that you want? If there are children involved, will you be able to cordially interact with your former spouse during life’s important events such as graduation from high school or college, marriages, birth of your grand child(ren)? Your conduct and that of your attorney during the pendency of the divorce will have a major and direct impact on your post-divorce relationship. You have the ability to create a positive atmosphere during the divorce that will carry over into your post-divorce life. If you and your attorney adopt a no-holds barred approach during the divorce, it is improbable that a cordial relationship can be resurrected with your former spouse at the conclusion of the case.
Another reason to ponder what type of an attorney you want is financial. While doing their job properly, aggressive lawyers tend to fight every issue of the case including the inconsequential ones. It goes without saying that this approach runs up the legal fees of the case. It certainly is possible for the attorneys in a highly litigated case to become embroiled with each other. One can only imagine the fees that will be generated if two attorneys are fighting with each other. Optimally, the parties should want to engage attorneys who are able to work well together. Those cases where the attorneys are working cooperatively or collaboratively will end up with lesser fees being charged simply because they do not have to jump through the hoops that they otherwise would have to do if they did not get along. Seeing the two lawyers joking and getting along can be off-putting to some clients but they need to remember that such interacting is really in their best interests.
To summarize, a good deal of thought should be given to the type of lawyer you want to represent you. Not only will that decision impact you during the pendency of the divorce but it can carry over into your future life. The choice will also impact how much you will spend on your attorney. If all that you want to do is take your spouse to court to show the world what kind of person he/she is, choose the shark. If you want a cordial relationship with your spouse and/or you want to keep the cost of your divorce to a minimum, consider an attorney with a more collaborative style.
Law Offices of Kenneth L. Harvey