The top 10 divorce failures we see are based on real divorce and child custody situations. Attorneys like us often receive calls about halfway through a divorce. Or, we are hired at the start, but our services terminate halfway through. No lawyer wants to start giving the hard press to a client. While I want to walk you to the finish line of your divorce, I have to respect your self-determination. The last thing I want to do is discourage a client. There are some things I cannot say to a client during their deliberation about whether they can afford my legal services. There are also some things I cannot say to an opposing party.
Here are some of the top 10 divorce failures we have seen:
Failure 1. You cannot afford not to have an attorney. You may find yourself halfway through your divorce, deliberating whether your an afford your divorce lawyer. If you have assets of more than $500,000 in combined real estate equity, real property, qualified plans, investments and liquid cash, you will almost see at least 10% of that total equity left on the table somehow if you do not have an attorney.
Failure 2. The billable hour creates a conflict of interest for family lawyers. Not every divorce lawyer is created equal. Some divorce lawyers just want you to be in conflict because the billable hour is their bread and butter. The more billable hours an attorney can charge and be paid, the more money the lawyer earns. If you fight the other party, I can charge more money You will call me more, feel more moments of desperation and live a more difficult existence. Those circumstances may force you to return to me for advice. Correct your course by walking into your lawyer’s office with a specific goal, and ask your lawyer whether they will commit to working with you to achieve it.
Failure 3. Not knowing your dollars and cents. I cannot count the number of time I have seen an attorney demand a specific number for spousal maintenance without knowing what their client can afford to pay, or what their client needs to survive. When I make a demand, I know my client’s bandwidth to cover the difference. Course correct by talking to a financial planner.
Failure 4. Insisting on your day in court. “I’d rather see what a judge will do,” or “I want my day in court,” are common refrains. I have to give those comments all the deference I give adults who decide to cliff dive at 50 feet into shallow waters. I cannot tell you what you will encounter. Unless you’re very high income, a day in court is rare. You will not have your day in court. You will sit on the stand in a courtroom, a single judge as your audience. The judge in your divorce trial may not look at you very much. They will not feel your emotions, your prideful indignation, or your sense of loss. Your judge heard and decided an equally stressful case yesterday. This experience is a nightmare to you. You are facing the loss of your children, your money, your marriage – and for your family law judge, your problems are another day at work. During COVID, you did not even step inside a courtroom. Some people have to resolve their divorce at a trial. But some people also have to have a root canal, or be bitten by a snake. If you find a settlement you can live with, and you are fully satisfied you know the information necessary to make an informed decision, settle your divorce out of court.
Failure 5. Drawing conclusions. Your conclusions, your adjectives, even your experiences, may not be shared by a divorce court judge. A litigant (that’s you, in a divorce) may think the other side “unreasonably breached the divorce decree” or “maliciously” posted something on social media, but the judge may see differently. I prefer to give the judge the factual narrative and ever If you try to hide assets, you may get caught.
Failure 6. Staying with your emotions. Your emotions are not going to carry your case. This is a follow up to having your day in court and drawing conclusions. Arizona family court cases do not assign blame for a divorce. An Arizona divorce court judge is directed by the Arizona legislature to make objective decisions about your divorce. Humans tend to identify with people who are similar to us. If you can gain objectivity, it could help your judge observe alignment.
Failure 7. Being overconfident about child custody. I once had a case where a party sat and confidently testified about an experience in traffic. I retraced the steps, weaving them tighter into the web. My closing question hammered the final nail on the canvas of illustrations of refusal to coparent. I was once told by a frequent expert in my cases, “you’re one of the few lawyers who thinks on your feet.” Assume as you coparent, your every behavior will be characterized by an opposing attorney.
Failure 8. Thinking short-term. You may not want to live together, because no one who is able to identify with this article is thinking “wow, I hope I can live in a hostile home life for several more years.” But consider this: When you move out, you lose access. You lose access to information, mail, schedules, observations – you lose access. You don’t want to “access” this person as you did on the day you married. When you got married, you climbed into a boat together. You are in that boat until you are decreed by a judge to be legally out of the boat – that is, legally divorced. You’ll still be in other boats together if you own a business together, or you have young children who own both your hearts. If you suddenly scramble out of the boat, you’re in the water, and the other person is in the water with you. If the boat was miserable, imagine being alone in the water when all you now share is mutual devaluation as a mate for life. So, if you can remain in the home safely, you not only save money on living arrangements, you save money on lawyers’ fees to obtain records that – so long as you are under the same roof – are under both your thumbs. Those records alone could be worth at least $3000-5000 in divorce court discovery battles.
Failure 9. Tendering a lifetime relationship to a judge or a lawyer who you will not know in a year. Arizona Court Rule 67.1 was passed in 2016, and I know because I urged that this court rule had to become an available legal option. But when I had lunch with an attorney friend in 2019, I asked, “will you start practicing collaborative process?” The response was very direct. I was told “there’s no money in collaborative process.” The lawyer was exaggerating, because Collaborative Process is not free, but it is almost always substantially cheaper than a court case. Collaborative process preserves lifetime relationships among families. There are three types of divorce lawyers in Arizona: Some lawyers will try collaborative process. Some lawyers will not try, because their income requires you to be in conflict. The third type has never tried collaborative process but with the right opportunity could be persuaded. The group of family law attorneys who will not try collaborative process makes up at least half of the population of divorce lawyers. Lawyers are trained to persuade so the lawyer who refuses collaborative process will justify in a way that seems unique to your case. You may feel convinced, but correct your course by first talking to an attorney who has tried collaborative process. Don’t write a blank check before you know where the money will go.
Failure 10. Being unaccountable. Be accountable for behaviors that are obvious to everyone else with an inside view of your divorce. I like myself, but I know that not even I am perfect. If you refuse to be accountable, you refuse to be believable. Watch any superhero movie and your protagonist will have moments of utter humanity and despair. They will recover, prompting a theater full of people to forget their own struggles for two hours. If your attorney is worth their hourly rate, they can guide you through a chronology of your self-repair efforts.
How To Deal With A Divorce
I gave you ten reasons, but I am compelled to add a bonus. If you are struggling with your emotions during a divorce, find your outlet. Therapy is ideal for many people, but in extreme cases, therapy records can be subpoenaed. If not formal therapy, find a way to process the grief. A few years ago, I bought oil paints for a family member who I felt could really use an outlet. I noticed one day the paints never were used. I took $400 worth of paint to my house and created an enormous painting. It reflects in pointillism a terminator line and day and night as earth may appear from space. Painting shifted me out of my own life experience and offered perspective. Multiple people have offered to buy that painting from me for several thousand dollars. Almost three years later, I still love to paint.
I notice something about my clients who are working with therapists or managing their feelings productively. When we have a telephone call or meeting, no matter how difficult the subject matter, the meeting or call stays on point and ends on time. We advance the case in some way when we communicate. Those clients retain a sense of stability and perspective through dark hours. Occasionally one of those clients will call me and mention that three or four days ago, something very unsettling happened in their divorce. Their support system was in place, so the unsettling divorce event resolved or got parked.
If those clients were not working with a therapist or finding a way to channel difficult divorce experiences, their fees would increase. When it was time to end the meeting or phone call, a sense of abandonment may arise. Going back to their life may feel like a challenge because perspective could suggest the divorce will last an eternity and hopelessness is static.
Speak with our Divorce Attorney in Phoenix & Scottsdale, AZ
Moshier Law should be your choice when you need the best divorce attorney in Phoenix. An experienced family law attorney will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. We advocate for our clients, so they have the brightest future possible. Give us a call today at 480-999-0800 for a free consultation.
Divorce and Family Law
When a case demands litigation, you’ll have the benefit of 19 years of litigation experience in California and Arizona. But when a case demands collaborative law or mediation, we can meaningfully describe why collaborative law or mediation may or may not be your best option.