By: Alan Freed
I recently spoke with a new client whose husband was seeking a lawyer to represent him in the divorce action that we were preparing to file. She had been referred to me by a real estate lawyer who knew me from my many years spent as a family law attorney, but she wondered whether she would be in a better position if her husband were to select a young, inexperienced lawyer, or perhaps a lawyer without substantial knowledge of family law issues, thinking that my greater experience might give her an edge.
Divorce is a complex process encompassing a large bundle of issues, only some of which are covered directly in the state laws that deal with divorce. Divorcing couples are faced with financial issues, emotional issues, child development issues, tax issues, and a host of other obstacles that stand between the couple and a resolution of the case. Lawyers with years of experience in family law recognize the complexity inherent in these issues and have developed skills that are particularly suited for handling them. Beyond that, they understand the subtleties of interpreting the law and they know that the words in the statutes are sometimes subject to multiple interpretations.
When I am working on a divorce case, I want to know that the attorney representing the other spouse has a sufficient level of skill and experience to, at a minimum, understand the basics of family law and, ideally, to engage in a meaningful conversation on how to resolve the case without going to trial. A lawyer who doesn’t regularly practice in this area may have a more simplistic view of the issues or have faulty notions about how judges address particular issues, which makes the case more difficult to resolve.
Beyond that, less experienced lawyers sometimes try to substitute bluster for skill or set unrealistic expectations with their clients about what a likely outcome may be, the result of which is often higher fees, raised emotions, and unsatisfying outcomes. These results could have been prevented had cooler and more experienced heads prevailed.
I told my client that I hoped her husband would select a lawyer who had participated in many divorce cases. I said it would be even better if it were someone who had previously worked opposite me on other cases, so that we would each understand each other’s style and, ideally, would have developed a level of trust. This kind of cooperative lawyering is not a betrayal of my own client; rather, it’s a way of making the best use of my skills to achieve a good result at the lowest cost and with the least negative impact on her children and herself. Effective advocacy doesn’t have to be loud or abrasive. Having effective counsel on both sides of the bargaining table is usually the best way of obtaining a good result for my client.
The family law attorneys at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal have a wide range of experience over many years dealing with the intricacies of divorce and other family issues.