HOW TO PICK A GOOD DIVORCE LAWYER: 6 MYTHS ABOUT DIVORCE THAT CLIENTS SHOULD KNOW
The process of divorce is a major life-stress. Not only does it mark the end of a close relationship, the outcome of a divorce action will affect the things that matter most in your life: your kids, your home, your finances, your medical coverage, your debt, and your retirement.
It is natural to be anxious and nervous. All too often, these raw emotions are exploited by unscrupulous lawyers who prey on clients with common misconceptions about divorce. When they over-promise, you over-pay.
Here are six facts about divorce that clients should know when hiring a divorce lawyer:
1. Settling is not weakness.
Many clients are surprised to learn that over 95% of divorce cases are settled without trial. This is true even for the most acrimonious litigants. Seasoned attorneys know the inclinations of matrimonial judges and can craft settlement terms to protect your values and interests. Settlement discussions are an intrinsic part of every divorce action and are often ordered by the court.
2. The judge does not care about your spouse cheating or other marital wrongs.
Often, spouses who have been wronged by marital infidelity expect to receive some type of compensation from the court for their spouse’s hurtful deception. The harsh reality is that the court does not concern itself with cheating or marital fault. Marital infidelity, even if proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, is unlikely to result in any change to the outcome of your case. We can assist you in recouping the marital funds that your spouse spent to perpetuate his or her cheating (e.g., gifts, vacations). However, that is purely an economic issue based on money actually spent. No ethical attorney should represent that marital wrongs will be vindicated in court or result in financial compensation.
3. In most metro-area courts, a final divorce takes time.
Especially in simpler cases (e.g., short term marriage, no kids, no real property) frustrated clients have the expectation that their divorce will be over in a flash. Clients should be aware that even after there is agreement on all matters, court system backlogs can result in delays of many months. If parties disagree, even on a small issue, a final divorce judgment could take a long time. These lengthy waiting periods are due to court system overload. While there are mechanisms to quickly address emergencies, no attorney should be promising an instant divorce. Attorneys can control when documents are filed, but cannot control when the court will act on them.
4. Discovery: Intrusive and expensive
Many clients are shocked to learn about the legal process called “discovery.” This process involves a complete and total exchange of many years’ worth of financial records with the other side. The scope of discovery is very broad. Clients are often hesitant to turn over personal data such as paystubs, bank statements, investment information, personal credit card statements, and business records. There is no way to avoid it. Discovery is mandatory in all matrimonial actions. Failure to comply with discovery can result in severe penalties and court sanctions.
5. Title means nothing; the judge is smarter than your spouse.
Sometimes, spouses anticipating divorce will try to shield assets by transferring valuable marital property to their own sole name or to a family member. For example, an unscrupulous spouse might transfer title to the marital home to his or her parents, or empty out the marital bank accounts and give the funds to someone else to hold. Often, the defrauded spouse is duped into believing that such nonsense actually works, and that the assets are out of reach of the court. Matrimonial judges have seen every scam in the book, and deal harshly with parties who try to play such games. No matter how smart or tricky you think your spouse is, the judge is smarter!
6. Divorce is a team effort to prepare for life after.
Divorce is hard, but it is the beginning of the next stage of your life. The “fog of war” sometimes prevents clients from looking forward and seeing what life looks like 1-year, 3-years, 5-years, and 10-years out. You and your attorney should work together to define your goals and values, planning not only for the present, but also for the future.
If you have any questions or need legal help, contact Law Office of Yelena Sharova, P.C., for immediate assistance: 212-321-0741
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