5 Common Client Misconceptions About The Legal System

1. Court is easily accessible. I know, I know, I love legal television as much as the next person, but shows like Law & Order, Drop Dead Diva (love!), Suits, or Franklin & Bash (Love!!) confuse people into thinking that we retain a case and go to court the following day ready to try the case. In reality, the legal system (when contested) is as slow as molasses. There are deadlines, sure, but there are also Motions for Extensions, Motions to Continue, and conflicts. The court system is FLOODED with cases, each one on the same slow track. Even our uncontested (agreed to) cases have statutory waiting periods keeping them from moving too fast. So, listen to your lawyer, hold your britches, and get ready to mosey on to court. Besides, when it comes to cases where your children and your money are involved, do you really want to jump in there and have a judge make a haste decision with little or no facts?

Pro se problems!
Pro se problems!

2. Lawyers aren’t necessary. Sure, the court provides forms to help with cases so that people who truly cannot afford an attorney, who are sadly stuck in litigation without representation, have a starting point. These forms are for you to get started when in a bind, not to represent yourself. The one term that’ll make a lawyer cringe more than “sanctions” is the term “pro se.” This means that some other lawyer will have to inevitably clean up what came back to the pro se person because it wasn’t filled out properly. We get phone calls daily about uncontested divorces that were returned and the people only want help refilling everything out. The easiest way to explain this is, get a lawyer (asap)! By the way, there are websites that have forms and such to help you represent yourself. Though, they are there to save you money, not to help you in court. These are often the “forms” we have to fix because even when the form is available, it doesn’t mean everyone has the knowledge and know how to fill it out. Would you youtube filling a cavity? No. You’d go to the dentist.

3. Adultery is the golden ticket to winning your case. It’s not true. Adultery is but a factor for the judge to consider when deciding on property & custody in a divorce. The sad thing is, if adultery would be a ticket, it’d probably be closer to a ticket to Saw X or whichever Saw the scary movie market is on to these days. It’s in excess supply without much demand. Unless there is a prenupt involved, the children were exposed to the adultery, or the other factors are heavily in your favor, don’t go hiring multiple private investigators just yet. Eventually, by the time you get to court, you have multiple other reasons for disliking your ex that the adultery seems like the icing on the cake. Don’t get me wrong, bag the boxers quickly, but don’t expect that baggy to make it rain.

4. Divorce lawyers hate each other. 99% of the time, we can argue all day long in court, then go out for coffee or martinis after. It’s the 1% that gives us this reputation. We prefer to represent our client’s best interests by negotiating and advocating for our client. We don’t advocate for our ego or to add to our billable hours. If we realize we’re backlashing out of emotion and not logic, we’ll bring it back. You want a divorce lawyer who gets along with other lawyers, because when lawyers can work with each other, even when they’re against each other, it produces the best results. However, if the opposing attorney is a pain in the hoohah, you’ll want your lawyer to be able to be feisty (and in my particular case – go redheaded on them! Haha)

5. Divorce has to be expensive.  Divorce can be as expensive or as cheap as you and your spouse make it. If you want to agree and work together, it can be quicker than a marriage created from drunk celebs in vegas.

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