What Should I Expect From My Spouse's Divorce Attorney?
There are expectation you should have from your spouse's attorney
Here is what you should expect from your spouse's divorce attorney
It is common for one spouse to complain about the other spouse's divorce attorney.
Sometimes, that complaint is justified. This is especially true when the other attorney is an overzealous barking suit.
Most of the time, it is not and the complaining spouse does not understand it is the other attorney's job to be a zealous advocate for his or her client. But what is a zealous advocate? And what should you expect from your spouse's divorce attorney?
Let's discuss this subject in more detail.
Zealous advocacy has its limitations
Too many divorce attorneys cross the line from zealous advocacy to being their client’s puppet. The client pulls the strings and the lawyer's mouth moves.
Put another way, some divorce attorneys only amplify their client's words instead of objectively evaluating the case based on the facts, law and evidence before presenting their argument or putting on a hearing.
Similar to how we divided the article about what to expect from your own divorce attorney, we will break this up into three sections. The first will be what to expect from your spouse's attorney if he or she is a bad attorney, followed by average attorney and then what to expect if your spouse has a great attorney.
What does the word “bad” mean in this context?
We will use the word in three ways. The first is a lack of experience, the second is a lack of skill and the third is a lack of ethics.
There are divorce attorneys who are highly experienced by low skill and vice versa. There are also highly skilled and experienced attorneys who are unethical. In this profession, like any other profession, you get different types. It is not coincidence the type you get often mirrors the real person. Here is what you can expect from all three types.
Your spouse’s “bad” divorce attorney
You may see some or all of these:
1. Misstatements to the court in paperwork or at a hearing
This is the most common problem when your spouse has a bad divorce attorney. Misstatements may just be due to a lack of knowledge about the facts. Misstatements can also be willful misrepresentations.
These can have significant consequences.
If the judge gives the attorney the benefit of the doubt, there may be time and money spent to uncover the misstatements or misrepresentations. If the judge actually believes the misstatements or misrepresentations, you may suffer a ruling that is unreasonable or inconsistent with the law and the facts. Having a good attorney on your side becomes even more important here.
2. Failure to communicate with your spouse
This is probably the second most common problem when your spouse has a bad attorney. This failure to communicate means a failure to return phone calls or respond to correspondence. It can cause significant delays in the case's progression toward resolution.
3. Failure to complete the paperwork on time
This is sometimes habitual with bad attorneys. This causes delays, especially if the judge continues the hearing or hearings due to the late filed paperwork. This makes the entire process more difficult for everyone.
4. Failure to complete the paperwork accurately
Attorneys rely on their clients so this may not be the attorney's fault. However, sometimes attorneys either do not know to get or refuse to get information from their client relevant to the paperwork they intend to file or serve.
5. Advocating positions that are inconsistent with the facts and the law
These are your puppets or amplifiers. Even though the facts or law do not support their client's position, your spouse's attorney still advocates that position. This usually causes a waste of time and money and is one of the reasons we have California Family Code 271 on our books as a means to punish this type of bad behavior.
In summary, if your spouse has a bad attorney, that usually translates into time and money wasted in the litigation process or, even worse and in extreme situations, results inconsistent with the facts and the law.
The best weapon you have against such consequences is your attorney and specifically your decision to hire an experienced, knowledgeable and highly skilled divorce attorney.
What to expect from your spouse's attorney if he or she hires the average divorce attorney
With the average divorce attorney, you may get some good and some bad. This will not be a long list but instead we will focus on the top three issues we see when your spouse hires the average divorce attorney.
1. A lack of attention to important detail
The biggest issue we see when we litigate cases against average divorce attorneys is their lack of attention to detail. It is difficult to get them to see issues that are not common to most divorces. Because they take more of a cookie-cutter approach to a divorce, much of the communication they may have with their own client does not delve into specifics and usually does not get into problem solving at a deeper level.
2. A lack of deep knowledge of the law
The average divorce attorney who only has a basic knowledge of the law may be an impediment to positive, forward progress. Attorneys who have an in-depth knowledge of the law give better advice to their clients. Their clients therefore make better choices.
We rarely see this with the average divorce attorney. When the case becomes complex, the situation gets worse.
3. The failure to take statutory deadlines seriously
California law often provides deadlines for filing and serving paperwork. Sometimes, the family law judge may modify these timelines. Average divorce attorneys may or may not file and serve their paperwork on time. It is a wildcard.
We notice that the more complex the case, the less they pay attention to deadlines. You may think this will work in your favor because your spouse's attorney will miss important deadlines. That does sometimes happen but most of the time it just causes avoidable delays.
What to expect if your spouse hires a great divorce attorney
This issue is counterintuitive for some spouses. You may think that it would be awful if your spouse hired a great divorce attorney because that attorney will be knowledgeable, experienced, high skilled and therefore make things difficult.
Yet, our divorce attorneys fit into the "great" category and we do not make things difficult. Why is that? It is because the best divorce attorneys are also the most disciplined, diligent, and ethical. The best divorce attorneys are “big picture” thinkers. They do not create problems nor do they make existing problems worse. The best divorce attorneys are, at their core, problem solvers.
If there are reasonable factual or legal disagreements, they litigate the issues efficiently and their client is informed every step of the way.
That way, disputed issues get to court within a reasonable time and without unnecessary or unreasonable delay.
It is best if your spouse does hire a great divorce attorney because that should make the entire process go more smoothly. There is one exception. If a person has engaged in misconduct, then we can certainly understand why that person would have a fear of a great divorce attorney representing his or her spouse. But good and honest people do not worry about such things. That is why our clients do not worry about such things.
Your choice of a divorce attorney is more important than you may realize
We discussed what you should reasonably expect from your spouse's divorce attorney. You cannot control your spouse's divorce attorney, any more than you can control your spouse. But what you can control are your choices. Becoming informed about the California divorce process and our laws is a wise choice. Carefully selecting your divorce attorney is a critical choice.
Our family law firm offers an affordable strategy session. We have office locations in Orange County and Los Angeles. We represent clients with family law cases throughout each of the seven Southern California counties.
Ready to read more about California divorce law and procedure? Check out our informative divorce guides, starting with our comprehensive guide on the California divorce process. We provide you with a link below.