From the outset, women are typically much more emotional about the divorce process and the initial breakup than men, although I’ve seen it both ways. Generally speaking, men are from Mars, women are from Venus; that’s what they say anyway. The men tend to try to understand the process and they don’t really talk a lot about it; they just want it over with quickly. Typically, it’s amicable on the men’s side and the women are the ones who want a pound of flesh.
That said, I would imagine that the ratio of my representing women and men is probably very close to 50-50. I don’t specialize in representing father’s rights, whereas, for some attorneys, that’s all they do. I represent men and women; I don’t have a preference.
There’s a myriad of reasons, but infidelity is a big factor. One of the first few questions I typically ask is whether they have small children and whether they’re a product of this relationship, and if they are, I ask the parents if they’ve been to counseling. More often than not, by the time they get to me, there’s so much water under the bridge, that they’re done.
In doing family law for almost 16 years, I would say that maybe five or ten potential clients have gone the route of counseling and have actually saved their marriage; the rest just go through the divorce. I try to give my clients what they want; I’ll be the last one to encourage a couple to get divorced, but if there’s so much bad blood between the spouses that they’re done with the relationship by the time they get to me, and they just want out, I’ll help.
California is a no-fault divorce state, so you don’t need a valid reason for a divorce. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like the way the person looks or dresses or the way they cook you breakfast, lunch, or dinner; if one party wants out, the courts can grant a divorce.
The old saying, you get what you pay for, comes to mind; many people will hire a paralegal to do their paperwork, and over the years I’ve had clients after they did that, and signed and submitted it, so that should tell you something. The paralegals are not trained; they are not well-versed on the law; and they don’t know what is required for the judgment documentation. If you’re going to try to go the cheap way, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, and all you can do is hope that you’re on the side of the fence that works.
It is not wise to use one attorney to negotiate the divorce unless it is a true mediation session, in which the mediator, as a matter of law, is not representing either party and can be equally truthful and provide the same information to both parties when questions are asked during the mediation process. One thing I tell every client is, “If your spouse has an attorney, don’t walk in the court without a divorce attorney, otherwise the outcome could be very grim for you.”
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