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Pitbulls and Problem Solvers

“If I hire an aggressive lawyer I can get what I want and I will win.”

This is true if what you want is to increase the level of conflict between you and your spouse, grind the kids up in the middle, delay resolution, and spend unnecessary amounts of money on lawyers.

This is false if what you want is a timely resolution that best meets the needs of both parties, recognizes the importance of the involvement of both parents in a child’s life, and keeps the money in your family.

Danny DeVito’s character, the divorce lawyer in the 1989 movie War of the Roses, has what is arguably the most famous and arguably true line in this regard – “There is no winning, just different degrees of losing.” A scorched earth approach may mean both parties end up living on that scorched earth.

Judge Kass from New Mexico in an article called “Tough Lawyers” says “Fighter attorneys may make a client feel good as they harass and humiliate the other spouse, but fighter-attorneys cost tons of money and they always make things worse – for both parties.”  She recommends hiring lawyers that are peacemakers and problem solvers.  A good clue is that often those lawyers have gone to the trouble of taking mediation training. 

Good lawyers are not aggressive; they are appropriately assertive problem-solvers.

Being appropriately assertive means advocating for your rights, needs, and interests while remaining respectful of the needs and interests of all parties involved.

Good lawyers tell clients bad news, and there is always bad news.  Including that, in many cases, there will not be enough money to keep the same standard of living the family had before separation, the home may have to be sold, the children’s time will be divided between two homes, etc.

It is important to remember that when a family law lawyer gives you bad news they ARE on your side.

Problem solvers will start with clear legal advice about what your best-case scenario is, what the likely outcome is, and what the worst-case scenario is, including how likely each is, and the merits, costs, effort, and risks involved in seeking to achieve them.  Who wants to spend $10.00 to get $2.00?

Good lawyers will not guarantee outcomes as they cannot predict what information will come forward later, what other people might do, how the law might evolve or change over time, or how a Judge may see something in a different way that changes the expected outcome.

Sometimes you must fight, but usually only if one side refuses to problem solve.  Problem-solving is not done by insisting on your way, but by exploring in an interactive way (settlement meeting, mediation, etc.), a resolution that everyone can live with.

When parties both share in a transparent way all the relevant information and their perspectives on that information, do so in a facilitated discussion like a mediation and have the benefit of good legal advice, it is the rare case that is not settled. Why not start with that?

A marriage breakdown is not a war to be won, but a restructuring of the relationship, the parenting, and the finances of the parties. Working to problem solve solutions is really the best way to build an enduring agreement.

 At Moe Hannah, we have the tools and experience to help when the going gets tough, but we are, first and foremost, problem solvers.

Call us to discuss how to best deal with your situation.