Friday, April 8, 2011

Divorce is bad, mkay

And you shouldn't ever do it at all.  It sucks worse than anyone who hasn't gone through it can possibly know.

But, if you just have to get a divorce, please, by all that is holy and good, get a good attorney.  There is nothing that can make it better for EVERYONE. Especially yourself.

Now, I know that seems obvious.  Of COURSE you want a good lawyer.  Nobody wants to go into a divorce with a bad lawyer.

The tricky part is that what actually makes a good divorce attorney is pretty much diametrically opposed to what people think makes a good divorce attorney.  At least that was true for me.  I'd watched way too much TV, and thought a GOOD lawyer was one you would go in a really stick it to the other person, demolish them in court, come up with a Chewbacca defense for anything you were being stuck with, etc.

No, that's actually a pretty good description of a BAD divorce attorney.

It's like this.  A GOOD attorney is one that, when you come in with the list of all the crap you want (I want the kids all the time, and for he/she to not have them at all/I want to not give her any money/I want him to give me all his money so I can sit at home and eat bon-bons all day/etc) will tell you, "'re not going to get that.  Here's what you CAN get," and then convince you to be reasonable.  Then he or she will go meet with the other party's attorney, and if they are both good attorneys and both did the job outlined above, they will quickly negotiate to the settlement that both of them knew going in they would end up at.  Then you sign papers and are done.

A BAD attorney is the one who promises you that you can get whatever you want, who doesn't help you be reasonable, but drives you to being more and more unreasonable in your demands, and thus who stretches out the entire divorce process like crazy all so they can get paid more in legal fees.  And, at the end, the settlement will still be just about what it would have been if both had been good lawyers and both parties had been reasonable.  The difference is that it will take 10 times as long, cost EVERYBODY 20 times as much.

Oh, and it will absolutely destroy the lives of any children you might or might not have.  Because divorce is always hard on the kids, but what destroys them is when it all gets nasty and drawn out and the courts have to step in to make all the decisions because the two sides couldn't agree to a reasonable compromise.  THAT is what destroys kids.

So, get a good lawyer.  Help make sure your new ex finds a good lawyer, too.  Because the good, smooth, minimally-destructive process only works if BOTH parties have good attorneys.

I like my attorney a lot.  She's a very good attorney.  She works hard to keep my bill down.  She tries to get stuff through easily and reasonably.  Madam X's attorney is the absolute stereotype of a bad attorney.  She has a reputation in the local legal world of being, well, a complete bitch who has a tendency to take control of the case from her client and then drive it all into complete insanity.  It's just known that NOTHING goes smooth when she is involved.  Whenever you submit ANYTHING, she will HAVE to send it back with a billion amendments, trying to play every trick she can.

So, yeah, my life is just so much fun right now.  Let me tell you.  I'm identifying way too much with this right now.

So, don't get divorced.  It sucks.  But if you just have to, get good attorneys.  Save both of you a lot of time and money and heartache.

1 comment:

  1. Same problem my best friend ended up facing. At the end of his divorce process, he added up (estimating, of course) what *her* attorney had cost them, and basically pointed out that she could've had almost half again as much in settlement, if she hadn't been listening to an inept lawyer for so long...