Divorce can bring out the worst in you if you let it, or it can be the catalyst for an awakening of your best self. It’s often a function of making the right choices, especially early in the process. In fact, a divorce can be a kind of crucible to show you what you’re genuinely made of. Many are surprised at what they find when faced with the challenges of a divorce (if they’re self-reflective enough), but sadly many never realize what they’re shown (since they’re not self-reflective at all).
Choosing the right lawyer to counsel you through the process is a central first step in ensuring you pursue the former rather than the latter path. Attorneys can use this fork-in-the-road reality in one of two ways: they can be the voice of reason during the difficult chapter, or they can use it to their own ends to line their pockets. It’s a sad reality but a true one. (Why do you think there are so many lawyer jokes? Partly because they’re true.) Divorce lawyers are notorious for turning what should be a few thousand dollar undertaking into one costing tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars. That’s why it’s critical that you trust the attorney you choose to guide you through this process—a choice you shouldn’t take lightly.
The attorney you work with during a divorce should be a resource to you that allows the process to be an ameliorative one. He should be there to help you be more self-reflective not less, more open to the changes that come with a breakup not more bitter at them, more hopeful at the coming change not more entrenched in hatred. The single most important step in your divorce is partnering with the right attorney to go the journey with you. Make the choice wisely.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that a divorce blog entry does not need to contain award-winning prose to be useful. Waiting for something seismic to write is, in fact, why I fail to do more than one of these entries in an eighteen month period. But, with all the drivel out there on the internet in general, surely I can do my part and add to it. Lol.
In fact, every once in a while (maybe all the time, really), all someone is looking for when reading these things is helpful data to have when approaching their divorce. For that reason, I thought I’d highlight an important theme I see repeatedly with my prospective clients: Signing a separation agreement without ever hiring their own attorney to read through it—even a single time—to see if it passes the proverbial smell test. That’s real bad, people.
Simply put, when you’re going through a divorce, avoid signing an agreement without an attorney reviewing it with you first. Often, I meet with clients who’ve received a document from their spouse his or her attorney drafted. Their spouse my even say, “Okay, so I met with an attorney, and she drafted, like, this really fair agreement for both of us. If you’ll, like, just go ahead and sign it, like, this process will go much more smoothly for everyone. Then we can, like, just move on with our lives.” These words are an alarm bell from the heavens to remind you to get your Own. Damn. Attorney. Tout de suite. Forthwith. Pronto. Inmediatamente. Like, NOW!
Call me (704-750-2017) to discuss how I can help you review a separation agreement to understand what roadblocks might be buried in the legalese you’ve not thought through adequately. Having a consultation with me costs $275.00 (no, I don't do them for free). But, I can promise having me review a draft agreement before you sign it will be worth every penny. Here’s what I can guarantee you if you have a consultation with me in a situation like this: I’ll review whatever agreement your spouse forwarded you before our meeting. I’ll take notes for us to discuss and highlight key points for your consideration as you move forward. During our time together in my office for the consultation, I will educate you on important facets of your separation agreement that you should be mindful of, areas that might prove dangerous to you, and legal rights you may have which were altogether absent from the original agreement. You’ll also have an opportunity to learn about some other, more esoteric provisions in the separation agreement that are routinely found inside (you know, those uppity Latin phrases that are just bedazzled English phrases that you already know the meaning of).
Once we’re finished with the consultation, you may find you don’t even need to hire me at all (I promise to be honest with you about this) since everything you needed was furnished at our initial consultation. Or, you may discover that your agreement needs tweaking somewhat. I can do that on a flat fee basis or on an hourly basis for only a couple hours of my time (we’ll discuss what this looks like). You may even determine that the agreement needs a wholesale revision and that you’ll want to hire me to engage with the other attorney to negotiate a more robust settlement for you.
Regardless the outcome, it’s entirely worth your time and resources to hold off on signing something your spouse, like, hands you at the kitchen counter.
There’s not much romantic about marriage, tbh. Yes, I’m a divorce lawyer, so my clinical take on the institution is understandable. The truth is, though, marriage is strictly a corporate endeavor between two unwitting shareholders. It’s sorta like stumbling into a business enterprise whose partnership agreement no one even reads first. (And, trust me, there is a partnership agreement—google this for some light bedtime reading: “Chapter 50 of the General Statutes”).
If you weren’t religious going into your marriage, you certainly will be when you come out of it. Why? Because that statute I just mentioned is the holy writ of the marriage bond. It may not be a religion you were baptized into or had even heard of, for that matter. The vast majority of us don’t even know the sacrosanct text exists until the marriage ends. Alas. What’s more regrettable is that it takes a mere three letters of the English language to seal the matrimonial bond (to its speakers’ potential detriment): I-D-O. Poof, you’re now equal shareholders in this quasi corporation we call marriage. (As an aside, I just saw a meme that became the impetus for this, my now annual, blog-writing exercise: “Still being single at 32 just means I statistically avoided my first divorce.” How true.)
Sorry for such an austere view of marriage. But it’s kinda reality. And, one becomes a teensy bit saddened I suppose after seeing people burn through their marital savings on lawyers to sever this corporate bond. All because they just don’t like each other anymore.
Maybe it should be a prerequisite for marriage, then, that the parties attend a Basics in Family Law course to learn what they’re getting themselves into. Ugh, how boring. Would two savvy business people ever sign off on a deal without discussing the rules outlining their financial undertaking? Unlikely. Why shouldn’t prospective spouses at least do their due diligence and learn, for example, that every dollar one of them saves is as much the other party’s dollar as the one who “earned” it? Or that “my” retirement is really just as much yours as it is mine? Why shouldn’t parents wanting kids be required to play the oh-so-fun “Worksheet A, B, or C?” game based on their previous year’s W2s and tax returns? God, even more boring. That game would take all the sexiness out of your engagement. The posts on FB and Insta would be dreadful.
Call me to discuss your prenuptial agreement.