You Don’t Have To Be Ruined Financially or Emotionally In A Divorce
If you have been divorced or have heard about a nasty one,You Don’t Have To Be Ruined Financially or Emotionally In A Divorce Articles then I am preaching to the choir when I outline the emotional and financial devastation that can be wrought on emotionally vulnerable couples who get involved in the adversarial system that IS divorce court. I was a child of a litigated divorce. I taught emotionally disturbed children from dysfunctional families for many years, I was a divorce attorney for eight years, and now I only do divorce mediation. Having witnessed our legal system from all sides, I can safely say that the whole context of how family disputes are settled in court today is not in the best interest of families. This is a call to arms. I am not even going to pretend this is an unbiased “news” article.
We who fight on the front lines on a daily basis, working with the emotionally vulnerable who feel as though the rug has been pulled out from under them know that the last thing a family in trouble needs is the “assistance” of counsel who could be throwing gasoline on the fire in order to line their own pockets. Most of you probably don’t know that family law attorneys are the ONLY kind of lawyers in California whose fees are statutorily protected by the equity in the family home. Divorcing couples may not be aware that they agreed to a lien on their homes and a possible forced sale at the end of the case when they sign their lawyer’s fee agreements. People need to know that they will get more and lose less by cooperating with their ex-partner than by litigating the matter.
Most people know what assets they have. No matter how much they earn, many people live paycheck to paycheck and there are usually no issues of hidden Swiss bank accounts. While this is the norm, any couple with equity in their home who both engage lawyers will soon see why the average contested divorce in our state costs $20,000 in attorney fees PER SIDE! And that is just an average. Most often, the more equity your home has, the higher the fees. Read Charles Dickens’ Bleak House and you will see little has changed in the past 150 years.
First, the lawyers will engage in expensive discovery procedures, serving interrogatories and subpoenas for production of documents. In order to keep the case going, with the lawyer making as much money as possible, they will schedule depositions and hire forensic accountants and other costly experts. When couples trust their attorneys, it’s hard for them to see they are being manipulated. It does NOT have to be this way!
Society needs to demand that divorce court be replaced by the more family friendly solution of divorce mediation. My own practice demonstrates what a sham the adversarial alternative is. I have a 100% track record with over 150 couples. When a lawyer has a powerful intention to help people find their bottom line fairly, efficiently and economically, cases settle without the expense, drama and irreparable harm to children and their co-parenting relationship, harm that is most always the result of a bloody and adversarial battle. Lawyers who are paid by the hour have no incentive to wrap it up. There is an inherent conflict of interest between the attorney, who wants to earn more money, and the client, who wants to save more money. When you are working on a flat fee, there is motivation to help couples come to a reasonable resolution without dragging it out.
An experienced attorney will usually have a good idea of how a judge will rule on a case. This is a community property state, and everything that falls into that category is evenly divided, and separate property is also well defined by statute. It just isn’t that complicated. Now there may be cases where a business requires a forensic accountant to value, but you don’t need to have a battle of the experts to testify why the husband or wife should get more or less money.
We have all seen the critical mass theory at work in our own lifetimes. For those unfamiliar with this theory, the simple explanation is that when enough people (thought to be somewhere between 3% – 5%) move in a certain direction, the rest of the population follows. Think I Pods, cell phones, recycling, health food, ending the war in Viet Nam, etc. It takes some time for the tipping point to be achieved, but whether it is 5% or 20%, at some point, when enough people get behind something, the change manifests throughout society. We can create a transformation in the way legal services are delivered not only in the area of family law, but all across the board. Mediation is applicable to every area where people have disputes.