Advice for Those Choosing Divorce (Part 2): Why Most Attorneys Are a Disease to the Process

When do you have to get an attorney who specializes in divorce?

Frankly, anytime violence or abuse of any sort is prevalent. I could never advocate not having one where there is a physical or substantial emotional threat in the home.

Other than in these occurrences, I would encourage you to NOT seek the counsel of an attorney for divorce cases regardless of the size of marital assets. It is not that attorneys are bad per se; however you need to understand the field of play. Like any other business they face intense competition and scrutiny. They rely on one another to be treated with respect and to achieve a certain status in and out of the courtroom.

But, most importantly, they do not run a not-for-profit business. THIS IS REALITY. Part of this reality is getting along with other attorneys and not being looked upon as difficult to work with even within their own little circles.

I was shocked when the mother of my children informed me that our attorneys were actually friends. Somehow, I didn’t think she and her ‘arch rival’ could be Facebook buddies until I saw it myself. That’s when I found my thumb and finger in the shape of an ‘L’ on my forehead. Part of me wants to know how many times my attorney had lunch with opposing counsel during my divorce but I am probably better off not knowing.

Remember that little game you played as a kid when you whisper a secret message to a classmate who passes it on and on and on? In the end, that secret message becomes distorted and barely recognizable from its origin.

Well attorneys are experts at this game. As a matter of fact, they depend on it to keep your emotions high and your wallet open. They request you never speak to your ex, and that you only communicate via e-mail with them being copied on the correspondence. In this manner, they keep track of all details while enticing your former partner to react in an outrageous manner. Thus, the game can begin all over again with multiple messages being relayed between attorneys. This becomes a perpetual cycle with little end in sight.

Sad, isn’t it?

As for attorneys being friends, keep in mind that no matter how large the community, most socialize with one another. They could very well take the same continuing education classes or even sit on the same boards. Have you ever had a drink of coffee with a colleague or co-worker from a neighboring office? Well the same principle applies here.

In retrospect, one of my biggest mistakes was accepting being told, “don’t worry, I’ll take care of that,” and not questioning what was actually happening. You can fill in the ‘that’ with a multitude of issues. Get explanations for every single piece of paper and communication during your divorce if you decide to retain an attorney. It’s your life being carved out.

Finally, use common sense. No one, your attorney included, wants to run an unsuccessful business. Just like credit card companies rely on you making only the interest payments, your counselor wants you to have a nice long divorce. The longer and more complicated the divorce, the more money she makes. You can bet (yes – take this to the bank!) her counterpart is just as happy and anxious as she is and would welcome as many mutual divorcing couples to work with as possible.

Sound harsh? You bet it is. But such is life when seeking a divorce.

UP NEXT: Advice for Those Choosing Divorce (Part 3): The ‘Must do’ List when Representing Yourself Before you go to Court

(Robert Watkins is a divorced father of two. While his advice may not be right for everyone, he shares his experiences, frustrations, and ultimate enlightenment on achieving a civil divorce. But – it takes a ton of work, understanding, and humility, as well as, getting rid of that attorney.)

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