What surprises most, is that you can completely ruin your divorce in the opening thoughts of starting the process. That’s no joke – before you file a document in court, long before your first court date, and even before you’ve told your spouse that you want a divorce, you could have jeopardized your case. How’s that?
Many spouses have the mindset that they need to find the most litigious “pit-bull” lawyer they can find. This belief has been groomed in the heads of many from years of hearing old divorce horror stories on how one spouse or the other got screwed in the process. One’s first reaction, is the the desire that the horror story not happen to them. Solution? I suppose an aggressive attorney. And, that’s where things go very wrong.
If doing divorce work has shown me anything, it’s that the hyper-aggressive attorneys do their clientele a disservice. Having been slugging it out in divorce courtrooms for 12 years, I’m finding that these “pitbull” lawyers are usually ending up with a typical result, though usually worse for their client compared to results achieved by their “normal” counterparts. If that wasn’t bad enough, how does paying twice as much as you should for a divorce sound? The reasons for an expensive lackluster result in your divorce are clear to divorce practitioners (and judges), but hidden behind the curtain to most.
You see, pit-bull attorneys are not truly aggressive and tenacious lawyers, they’re just abrasive. They come across as abrasive in your first meeting (and that’s where your thinking, “this is the lawyer for me”). But guess what, that abrasive personality isn’t just going to rub your spouse the wrong way, but his or her lawyer too, and more importantly, the judge isn’t going to be fond of your lawyer (and likely not fond of you). Also as important, is that an abrasive personality doesn’t mean that the lawyer is a tenacious lawyer. In fact, the opposite is true. Most abrasive personality types mask personal issues and inadequacy. And while most people know this, the emotional underpinnings of a divorce lead them astray from what is otherwise “common sense.”
The litmus test for a good tenacious lawyer is one that is highly articulate. Look for advanced vocabulary, relaxed demenaor, and someone that looks extremely presentable. Knowing a thing or two about divorce law doesn’t hurt. Remember, this is the guy or gal that is going to sell a story to the Judge. You should be looking for smooth, slick, and a talker; you want a silk handkerchief – not sandpaper.