This is a common statement, especially on social media. Perhaps you’ve said it. In moments of fear when you believe your life is about to change drastically. When facing an angry or irrational spouse or co-parent whom you believe is out to take something or everything important from you, it’s easy to see why you may believe you need the most aggressive lawyer you can find. But let me tell you why you do not.
Family law is the most emotionally charged arena. Marriages are ending, parents are separating and there are children, money or both in the balance. This can be one of the scariest moments of your life. When we’re afraid, we want to feel safe and protected. Facing courts, judges and a lawyer on the other side can bring about an overwhelming sense of fear. This reaction is natural- many of us have been there. But here’s what will likely happen if you go the path of “aggressive lawyer-up”.
You’ll find a lawyer, and the message you will hear is, yes, be afraid. Be very, very afraid. This will cost lots of money, which you’ll probably want to pay in this moment because, when your very existence is threatened, you’d want to do anything to protect yourself. This aggressive lawyer will scare the other side, keep the bad stuff from happening and you will “win”.
And so it begins. Lots of papers are filed. Large documents asking for what seems like thousands of things (many of which do not even pertain to you). Angry letters are sent. Motions are filed, some asking for things you do not even understand. Don’t worry, you are told. This is part of the process of protecting you. In a moment, the money you paid is gone and you need to come up with more. And more. Hello credit card debt, equity lines and borrowing from family and friends.
What’s wrong with this picture? Aside from watching your bank accounts get drained or your debt go up, there is no plan in place. No strategy for where you are going and how you are going to get there. Just a lot of anger back and forth over things you don’t have or don’t need. Maybe your lawyer is good at this fight (many are). But where is this getting you? Are you any safer after spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars that you’ve earned or borrowed?
What if I told you there is another way?
Lori Barkus has been practicing law for nearly 20 years. She is an attorney, mediator and also collaboratively trained. Her firm, Sustainable Family Solutions, offers a range of family law services- including, limited representation, strategic consulting and full representation- to meet the unique needs and priorities of the individual client.