This week I had a consultation with a man who has been separated from his wife for more than a year and had just been served with a complaint for divorce. He and his wife have been getting along well over the past year, sharing custody of their teenage son and working out the paying of bills and money issues. In fact, they’ve had a number of good conversations about how they wanted to divide up their assets and debts. They’ve managed to maintain a good relationship and even go out for lunch as a family every Sunday.
What has happened, though, is that the Wife has gone to an attorney whose style of representation is to push through, always using the legal system to get things done. He’s words to her were, “We have to do this my way. You’ll see. This is how we do it.” And he filed, and my client was served, and the wife was not aware or understood what he was doing or why, and it wasn’t what she wanted. There was a fault ground alleged in the complaint and other language that was generally inflammatory and not at all conducive to helping these folks continue with their respectful relationship.
This is why I advocate SO strongly that you be intentional about the lawyer you pick when the time comes. This woman just wanted someone to help her get a legal agreement drafted. The legal agreement her lawyer prepared asked for more money from the husband than he made in a month! How is it possible for him to pay her that amount and maintain his own household? And, more importantly, the agreement drafted was not what the woman asked for, but was what the lawyer thought he needed to do to represent her.
I’m sure this woman just didn’t know to ask certain questions, or that she had options. And that’s my point. You do have options, and the choice you make matters a lot.
I would love to hear from you. Do you think this lawyer has helped or hurt his client?