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One of the challenges of picking a divorce attorney is finding the right type of attorney or type of personality of an attorney to work with you and for you during the divorce process. There can be a lot of different styles of attorney. Sometimes you want an attorney that is more there towards working towards a resolution and won’t run up your bill, but you also want an attorney who is going to advocate for you and fight for you.
One of the things I want to cover in this particular episode is why you want to avoid hiring the most aggressive divorce attorney. You’ll see a lot of attorneys out there who claim to be the dog, the bulldog, the fighter. They’re going to go all-in and advocate for you and fight for you on every issue and make sure that you’re there to win. In fact, if you think about the way that divorce attorneys are represented in movies, oftentimes the attorney’s going to be that pit bull aggressive, sports car driving, fancy suit, 35th floor in a downtown office. An attorney that is there to be aggressive and fight.
But I want to give some considerations when it comes to choosing an attorney as to why that might not be the ideal in terms of picking the most aggressive person. And there are four big topics I want to cover in terms of an aggressive attorney. The first is that going to court is expensive. Second is aggressive does not equal respect in the legal community. The third is aggressive doesn’t mean effective. And finally, fourth is that an aggressive attorney can be emotionally draining.
So, I’m going to go through these four points. And just keep in mind when you’re thinking about your attorney selection, you’re thinking about the divorce process, you’re thinking about how these processes go, is ultimately you’re going to need to get to a resolution. Most people listening want to get to some form of a settlement, and it requires some negotiating ability.
Now, everything being lopsided, it doesn’t mean you cave in and give in to the other side, but you want someone who is there to advocate for you, but help you get to a resolution, not just fight for fighting sake. And so, the first point in this is going to court is expensive. If you get an aggressive attorney, you will constantly be fighting absolutely every issue, there’ll be a motion for every issue, you’ll have lots and lots of legal work that’s done. And anything that your spouse or soon to be ex-spouse brings up, whether it’s valid or not, is going to be challenged, even when it’s not justified to be challenged. And sometimes it is going to ultimately hurt you, not harm you.
And so, when you have overly aggressive attorneys, oftentimes you don’t get to a point where there’s a resolution and you end up going to trial or having many, many court dates. And the process takes twice as long and is five times more expensive because you’re fighting every issue.
The second point is aggressive attorneys aren’t always respected both by judges and the legal community. And remember, when I use the word aggressive, I do mean the person who fights for fighting sake. If you know that someone’s always going to fight every particular issue, whether it’s big or tiny and irrelevant in the overall process of things, that person starts to lose their credibility.
I mean, imagine, and I use an example that’s actually a true example, but let’s just say you have $300 worth of dishes at home. You know, you have your plates and your bowls and your cups and whatever else, but seven motions later and 14 hours of legal work later, you have now spent $5,000 or more on trying to get those cups and plates going to your house and not your ex-spouse. And that’s kind of the thing, where you would have been better off just letting this issue be rather than fighting over every detail attached to it.
And so, when you’re fighting over every little issue, there comes a point where people don’t value what you say, because everything is an emergency, everything is a big deal. And then the issues that really are big deals get lost in the overall shuffle because you don’t have that credibility to say when there are actual emergencies, there are actual issues because everything is.
The third point is that aggressive doesn’t necessarily mean assertive or effective. Now, you want, and one of the most common things that almost everyone wants, and I hear all the time, is you want your attorney to fight for you. That is a fair point and a fair statement. You want to feel like your attorney is on your side, advocating on your behalf, standing up for you through the legal system to make sure that what’s going on in this divorce process is right and just. And if there’s something incorrect that’s going on, that that person is going to advocate and make sure that you walk out with a good settlement or the best that’s possible given the circumstances.
Now that said, there are ways to do that without causing unnecessary fights on every issue. And the way I make that distinction is there’s a difference between being aggressive and being assertive. And so, there are some people who… Many attorneys I like, some of the ones that I recommend to people when appropriate is they are very assertive, they’re always in your corner, and they will always advocate on your behalf, but they aren’t overly aggressive on how they do it. They treat themselves as being right.
And so, because they know the law well, they know how to negotiate skillfully, they don’t have to yell or cause an unnecessary burden. They can speak in a tone like this, they can write factual statements, they can use the law to their advantage in order to help you versus making every issue an explosion or a blow-up.
And then the last point is that an aggressive attorney is just emotionally draining. I’ve been on the receiving end of and also seen clients who are on the receiving end of overly aggressive attorneys. And what they say and what they receive and what they communicate is just always something. Whether you said something the right way, or you incorrectly typed something, or whatever the case may be, that the receiving end that they’re going to say, they make every issue a five-alarm fire when it may just not even be smoke coming out of the kitchen. They pretend like the whole house is burnt down and we got to rebuild it. And it just becomes overly complicated when it doesn’t need to be.
In a perfect world, and there isn’t a perfect world in divorce oftentimes, this is divorce that we’re talking about, but if there were a perfect world in divorce, you would have two reasonable people, two reasonable attorneys, that say, “Hey, our sole objective is to get to a fair settlement so that everyone can move on with their lives at a reasonable cost and in a reasonable timeframe. That’s the goal.” And when you have someone who’s fighting every issue, either on your behalf or if unfortunately, your spouse picks that aggressive attorney, everything just is a constant fight and it’s a battle and it’s draining and it isn’t productive.
And so, you want to make sure that the attorney that you pick, when you’re looking for an attorney, knows how to pick his or her battles on your behalf. So some things are worth fighting, other things are not, and a wise attorney will guide you in the right direction.
And so, in the overall big picture, one of my favorite phrases that I’ve said on the podcast before is you can’t see the forest for the trees. Meaning you look at every individual tree but you can’t realize that you’re in this big forest and you don’t necessarily know what the big picture looks like. Well, that’s what it is like working with an overly aggressive attorney as you’re fighting and looking at every individual tree, but sometimes you just miss the whole big picture as to why you’re here, what your objectives are, and what’s the best way to get out of this, all things considered. Picking an overly aggressive attorney can really harm you in that regard.
That’s it for this episode. I’m going to continue the series on attorneys because it’s one of the most important things that you can do as part of the divorce process.