We have written in the past about father's rights in California and have cautioned dads about getting caught up in the man versus woman nonsense of family law cases. A father's rights in child custody and divorce cases is best obtained and enforced through intelligent representation, not over aggressive, rah-rah, bull that many lawyers who try to play on father's emotions sell.
And this is what this article is all about - not being "sold" on that nonsense. How can you tell facts and truth from fiction if you are a guy searching or a divorce lawyer? Here are some tips:
Divorce lawyers for men and the "bias" sell
When a father is searching for a divorce lawyer, the "bias" sell comes in different forms.
Some lawyers are actually brazen enough to tell fathers that "the family law system is biased against men." These lawyers fall in the foolish and desperate category and are probably used to losing in Court a lot. If you actually hear this from any attorney, run the other way. Before you do, ask them to what "system" they refer and, if you have the time, quote them the section from California Family Code section 3040 that states, "in making an order granting custody to either parent, the court shall consider, among other factors, which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with the non custodial parent, consistent with Section 3011 and 3020, and shall not prefer a parent as custodian because of that parent's sex. "
The more subtle bias sell when a dad is searching for a divorce lawyer comes in the form of stating that fathers have to work a lot harder and spend much more money to enforce their rights. We talk about this more later in this article but what the unscrupulous lawyer tells his prospective client is that he has to work much harder and become unreasonable and inflexible to get a fair result when enforcing his paternal rights, thereby implying that effective and intelligent representation won't be enough.
Both of these sells are garbage intended to sell the father who is looking for a divorce lawyer, not actually provide legal advice.
Divorce lawyers for men and the "over aggressive" sell
The over aggressive sell also comes in different forms and I have seen the nightmare stories where fathers come to our law firm after the fact and try to clean up what they and their lawyers screwed up. Words like "taking her down", and "going for the jugular" and every variation you can think of comes with these "sells".
The lawyer tries to tell the father than he has to be difficult to get results, that the father must litigate everything and become uncompromising to teach the mother a lesson and, with that, be willing to spend a lot of money in lawyer's fees.
If this is the advice you receive, before you hire the lawyer, ask him or her about Family Code section 271 which states, in part: "the court may base an award of attorney's fees and costs on the extent to which the conduct of each party or attorney furthers or frustrates the policy of the law to promote settlement of litigation and, where possible, to reduce the cost of litigation by encouraging cooperation between the parties and attorneys."
Fathers, like mothers, are susceptible to monetary sanctions against them for over aggressive litigation.
Divorce lawyers for men and the unethical sell
The first two are bad. The third is the worst. Some divorce lawyers for men actually try to sell their client on breaking the law by hiding assets, money, making false allegations or exaggerating facts.
Not only are these lawyers asking you to break the law and expose yourself to far worse than monetary sanctions but a serious breach of fiduciary duty claim or the loss of all of your custody rights but they are also telling you that they are willing to break the law too.
How desperate does a divorce lawyer have to be to give such advice? Desperate enough to say anything to get your business. Fathers who hire these types of lawyers have nobody to blame but themselves and there is no excuse for retaining such representation. If you get such advice, know that the lawyer will likely deny he or she ever told you such a thing and you won't have as an excuse that "my lawyer told me to do it" when the judge hits you hard with a breach of fiduciary duty claim and fees or takes your custody rights away.
Divorce lawyers for men and experienced, intelligent representation
Don't sell yourself or your children short. Divorce doesn't have to be a war despite what the fools try to sell you. If your wife wants one, then there is a right way to handle her and her lawyer and hiring the attorney who tries to sell you on bias, over aggressive or unethical representation isn't the way.
Our talented divorce attorneys are ready to help you. Call us today for an initial consultation and we will help you get your case started or back on the right track.
How about some additional reading? Check out our article on fathers rights in California and winning in family court in the face of false child abuse allegations as well as our popular article on divorcing a narcissist wife if you, as the father, are the bread winner of the family.