Hire or Fire the Aggressive Attorney…?

True Story*:

Angela was miserably married for more than a decade.  She and Mac had it all: a presentable homestead, healthy offspring, comfortable cars, vacations, savings… you get the idea.  But like I said, Angela was miserable.  She spent years upon years losing sleep over the fact that she was pretending to be someone she wasn’t, living a life she found unbearable.  Eventually, she couldn’t pretend any longer.  She painfully told Mac that she just didn’t see any other way around it- she wanted a divorce.  He agreed it was likely the best solution for everyone.

After receiving a recommendation from a trusted source, Angela confidently scheduled a consultation with a good attorney.  She held her head high as she entered Mr. Brown’s office and shook his hand firmly.  After the introductions concluded, Angela explained her situation:  she was unhappy, there had been fights, sometimes she felt like a bad mother…

“And tell me about your husband,” Mr. Brown instructed.

“Well,” Angela began.  “Mac is… great, really.  He’s an honest man and a terrific father.  I just don’t want to be married to him anymore.”  (note: this story takes place in a No Fault state)

Mr. Brown was not pleased with her response.  “You’re not giving me much to work with,” he told her.  “You’re asking for a divorce.  This is going to get ugly and I’m going to need some ammunition to use against your husband in order to get what you want from the property settlement.”

“But Mac and I don’t want to fight,”  Angela told him.  “We agreed to work together and make this as painless as possible.”

In response, Angela was told that she can’t trust her husband to keep his word.  That she and her “team” needed to gear up for battle.  If she didn’t want to go to battle, then perhaps she should rethink her decision to divorce.

She left and called Mac.  “This is crazy!”  She was seething.  “I don’t want to make things difficult and we can’t afford to make things difficult.  We need to worry about the kids and finances and functioning on a daily basis!”

Following that discussion, Angela and Mac sat down and made a new plan:  they would use a mediator and construct an agreement together.  After the negotiations were complete and a parenting plan was drafted, they would make it official and file the paperwork.  And they promised to let no lawyer sway their decisions about what was best for their family.

This story is quite common.  I’ve actually heard it from lots of people, in one version or another.  It contains several key insights to be recognized by anyone considering a divorce:

  • It’s never too late to pursue the life you wish you were living.
  • Define “good” when asking for a recommendation.
  • Lawyers are trained to fight.
  • Divorce proceedings can turn normal people into … not-quite-themselves.
  • Do your homework and be sure to retain a professional resource who is aligned with your goals.
  • Nobody knows your family like you do.
  • Don’t lose sight of your life and finances.
  • Divorce takes teamwork.  The members of the team are up to you.

*Names have been altered to protect individual privacy.  Minor details have been tweaked as well.

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5 comments on “Hire or Fire the Aggressive Attorney…?

  1. amart71 says:

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  2. goodbyeforever says:

    I had the exact opposite problem. I wanted a lawyer because of the stuff my ex was trying to pull but because we were only married a year and a half I was repeatable told that I didn’t need a lawyer, even from lawyers. I guess in the end they were all right. It just depends on what kind of person your ex is and how quick they are to jump off the deep end. I didn’t want to make things difficult, but she held my car hostage and my dog – screw the car, but never mess with a mans dog.

    • I’ve noticed that some lawyers are reluctant to “fight” for a man. I know a man who hired The Best Divorce Lawyer In Town and ended up paying thousands of dollars for the attorney to advise him to “just let her have it all.”

      You’re right about the dog- did you get it back?

  3. goodbyeforever says:

    I did get the dog, and the car. I am some what assamed to say that in the end I played the game the way she did. She wanted me to pay all the bills and share custody of the dog. If I couldn’t agree to that, she said she wouldn’t even go to the mediator and would rake me over the coals in court. I agreed and once there completely reversed my tune. In the end I did pay all the bills, but I got the dog and haven’t seen or spoken to her since, so really ended as a win win for me

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