Lawyers bring special skills to the table during divorce negotiations. If you are having trouble deciding whether you need a lawyer during your divorce or parenting time negotiations, here is a list of assets attorneys bring to the settlement process.
- Your lawyer is not taking this personally. Very difficult things may be said during negotiations. If the battle over parenting time or asset division is pitched, each person in the marriage has reasons not to give the other person what they want during the divorce process. If the client were to stand in these negotiations, the client would have to hear, and process, all of the complaints about themselves that lead the other spouse to want a different solution, and still maintain the ability to negotiate on their own behalf effectively. Few people can maintain this laser focus on their goals in the midst of such discussions. Attorneys are able to be in the discussion dispassionately, which helps them remain focused on their client’s goals.
- The interaction is balanced. If only one party is represented by an attorney, or if there is a pattern of abuse, control, and coercion in the relationship, intimidation may play a major role in negotiations and hinder equitable agreements. When two attorneys negotiate with each other, there is no power imbalance in the relationship. Each is an attorney, licensed in the same state, by the same test. They meet and interact with each other as equals.
- Your lawyer does not have a bad relationship with the other party. Lawyers have the ability to deal with the other lawyer in a collegial, professional matter that facilitates coming to an agreement. When a couple reaches the point where they are seeking a divorce, often each interaction is laced with the intense emotions of grief, anger, and disappointment. Lawyers dealing with each other are both oriented towards effective settlement. They are each motivated to accomplish their client’s respective goals. However, their own relationship with each other does not have a long or complicated emotional history. This enables them to negotiate more effectively.
- Your lawyer is not emotionally tied to the issues at stake. People feel intimately tied to their earnings, wealth, and children. It can be difficult to even contemplate life with any lesser amount of income, assets, or time with one’s children. This intimate tie makes identifying openings in the conversation more difficult and decreases the creativity required in coming to an agreement. Because your lawyer is not emotionally tied to the specific issues, he or she is free to imagine workable solutions to the problem.
- Lawyers are trained to be persuasive and relevant. Many people getting divorced feel that things must happen a certain way but may struggle to explain why in a manner that is compelling to their spouse, spouse’s lawyer, or a judge. Lawyers have honed their ability to persuade and pick out relevant facts and law over many years. It is your lawyer’s job to be persuasive and protective of your interests and your children’s best interests. Your lawyer will know how to ask you about your story and communicate it to your spouse’s lawyer in the most impactful way.
- Lawyers know what is and is not possible. Perhaps your spouse has threatened to do something you find shockingly unfair if you do not agree to a certain provision. Your lawyer will know what can and cannot be accomplished in your case before a judge. With this knowledge, your lawyer will not get distracted by empty threats and can remain calm and focused on your goals.
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About the Author: Elizabeth Dann, Esq. is a family law attorney practicing in Natick, Massachusetts. She is a divorced, single mother of three children who loves soy cappuccinos, plant-based food, and karaoke.