I’ll be the first to tell you that my divorce was a necessity. You can only push a dead marriage so far with sheer force of will before your mind and body give out. After ten years of losing myself, I probably even needed my attorney to avoid being completely steamrolled. However, once it was over, I had to confront the fact that my lawyer had not been quite the savior in Chanel that I thought she was. Like everyone else, she had her own agenda. She was just better at hiding it. Here are five dangerous lies your divorce attorney will tell you:
1. “Our goal is to make this process as easy as possible.”
The first lie you are going to get coming through the door is a blatant play on your vulnerabilities. Lawyers, or possibly their impeccably dressed assistants, tell this one during the free consult. They attempt to make you feel safe and secure during a period when nothing feels safe. Usually, it works and you find yourself scrambling to come up with an impossibly high retainer. The goal is not to make the process easy, it is most certainly to make money and lots of it. In reality, if they wanted to make the process easy, they would tell you to sit down with your Ex and try to work through negotiations like grown-ups. Once the lawyers get involved everything gets hard and bitter.
2. “Feel free to call anytime you have a question.”
Well, if people paid me $350 dollars an hour I would make myself available too. Nothing is free with a divorce attorney. You are going to have A LOT of questions. Your attorney will take your call, but they start timing and every minute costs you. That might not seem like a big deal in the beginning but once the monster retainer runs out and you find yourself on hold or directed to voicemail, you are going to be struggling for answers. The internet is riddled with resources. Try doing your own research before you put your attorney on speed dial. It will help.
3. “The family court system is objective.”
NO, it is not. Don’t get me wrong, I am not accusing judges of being biased or playing favorites in the courtroom. The bottom line is that money talks. Lawyers are paid to argue. The one with better skill comes out on top. It stands to reason that skilled lawyers cost more. If you can afford to put out more money, your attorney will be better trained in the art of rhetoric and persuasion. Judges, like anyone else, can be persuaded to a particular point of view.
4. “You deserve more.”
Once you fall victim to this one, things are going to get out of control in a hurry. You and your ex will start haggling over 1/18 of a retirement package and who is going to pay the credit card bill full of purchases you made back when you thought this was forever. Peace becomes impossible when you start trying to get the financial edge. I’m not arguing for total submission, but don’t forget about the kids in pursuit of an extra dollar.
5. “You can win this.”
No, you can’t. Nobody wins in a divorce, you just end up less miserable than the other person. There will always be unanswered questions and nagging doubts that creep into the back of your mind. “You will survive this” would be a better promise.
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For more from Rebecca Gorman, check out her blog, Messy Mom Moments.