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When you hate your spouses lawyer.

When You Hate Your Spouse’s Lawyer

Some lawyers, especially those of your spouse in a divorce proceeding, can easily get under your skin. They can become your focus – a very negative focus – and distract you from the task at hand.

What is the task at hand? It is usually, and should always be, to resolve the legal issues arising from your divorce or separation.

But what about revenge, venting, or settling scores? You know the answer to that question before I answer it. Lawyers are an extremely expensive way to settle scores or vent. Any lawyer worth hiring will eventually tell you, if these are truly your number one goals, to please hire someone else. Acting for clients who are most interested in holding their spouse to account becomes tiresome. It’s not only exhausting for the client, but also for the lawyer as well.

But I digress. Most people come to a lawyer for advice and representation in the complicated and difficult process of solving divorce and separation legal problems – for resolution of parenting, child support, spousal support, or the division of property and debt.

Resolution comes in two main forms: settlement or a contest. Contests happen in court or in private binding arbitration. However, 90% or more of divorce cases are negotiated and settled.

Whether your case goes to court/arbitration or to mediation and settlement, you’ll be having to deal with your spouse’s lawyer. You’ll likely be answering his or her questions, sometimes more than once. You’ll be providing him or her with very personal information and documents. And he or she will be the likely face of your spouse in direct negotiations.

Imagine how distracting it would be to an already difficult job if you found yourself hating your spouse’s lawyer. You would focus less on analyzing and solving problems. You would focus more on your very negative feelings. When asked questions, your dislike and even hate will almost certainly shine through. When that happens in front of an adjudicator, you’ll suffer for it. What becomes evident isn’t the faults of the opposite lawyer but your own emotions, bias, and impartiality.

Sometimes lawyers – a minority – will deliberately attempt to irritate or annoy you because it works. It can bring out your petty and vindictive side (if you have one).  When that happens, especially in front of a judge or arbitrator, your credibility suffers. Do not take the bait.

Most of the time your spouse’s lawyer will piss you off without intending to do so. Sometimes you’ll hear condescension or sarcasm. Do your best to ignore it as it will distract you from the task at hand. I’m not sure why some lawyers get adversarial in a negotiation because it does not work in our experience. If you see your own lawyer becoming adversarial, or personal, or critical of your spouse feel free to speak to them privately and ask them not to. Divorce negotiations are hard enough without it becoming personal with the lawyers!

Bottom line…it’s not about your spouse’s lawyer, it’s about you and your spouse and finding a resolution that is better than the alternative – a judge/arbitrator at high cost and low control over the outcome.