Making Choices with Family and Family Law
I’d rather pay you the thirty grand than pay my wife a dime.” Client quote.
A family lawyer who fails to inquire about your willingness to divorce or separate cares not a wit about anything besides the resourcefulness of your cash flow. I have mirrors in my home and office and, hence, cannot operate on this level. I kick a lot of people out of my office because they are not ready to end the relationship.
They are in my office because of acute anger from some horrible thing that occurred in the relationship or because their partner has demanded a separation without warning. Either way, the client is working on pure adrenalin. If I feed the anger, I become a fellow combatant in the virtual foxhole where my client resides. If I dismiss the anger or ask how the client’s expectations soared beyond reality, I am a traitor who has been bought-off by the system. In either case, I cannot be that person’s lawyer and that person cannot be my client, at least for now. Some will go away and never come back. Many will appear at the courthouse with another lawyer (or many lawyers over the span of many trips to the courthouse). Often, months or even years later, I will bump into the person who apologizes for not listening to me — but I understand. The client was in no frame of mind to objectively look at his or her life and future at the time he or she met me.
Once, a lawyer announced that he was referring me a case and the litigant had been promised a fabulous result and the need for a $100,000 retainer. What this lawyer meant was that I would do all the work (value $5,000 to $15,000) and he would find a way to justify keeping the whole retainer. The client could easily pay this amount, since she was fully financed by family members worth hundreds of millions of dollars. I prepared a memo outlining the scope of work, studying the worst-case scenario and roughly gauging possible economic results. The anticipated legal and accounting fees did not even approach the previously advertised retainer. I had to give this client the truth and reasonable expectation of the process, the result, and cost. We lost the client — she had already been over-promised and I had already under-performed.
I offer advice to prospective clients daily. I give them their options. I always ask, “Do you want to break up?” The majority answer that they are uncertain or that they wish there was an alternative. I try to make sure that people understand that breaking up does not cleanse you of any memory or connection of the relationship or the ex.
After the relationship ends, people with children are stuck with each other for many years. Childrearing is a life-long commitment and you will have to deal with your ex. Weddings, bar mitzvahs, communions, and grandchildren could be in the joint future of you and your ex. If you can survive a rough period, you may be able to look with great joy into the future of your family. Once you are sure that it will not work and decide to end the relationship, use your brain to make a series of good decisions.
…reduce process anger, exercise self-determination and achieve net-dollar results…
Contact us if you are looking for a family law attorney in New Jersey.