As we go through our daily lives we often come upon situations that require us to make decisions. Sometimes these decisions can be minor in nature and other times they can be somewhat more complex. None of them compares to the decision a person has to make in deciding if they should pursue a divorce from their spouse.
I hear these questions almost every day from either prospective or existing clients; “Should I stay married or get a divorce?”; “Should I accept this deal or go to trial?”; “What should I do?” Unfortunately, divorce attorneys don’t always have the answers. I can certainly advise a client based upon my 35 plus years of experience, but in reality, the decision must always be that of the client.
When I meet with a prospective new client who is considering a divorce, I am often asked for my opinion as to what he or she should do. I explain that I do not ever encourage an individual to get divorced, but obviously, sometimes that is, in fact, their best option. It is, however, a very personal decision that he or she must make based upon all the factors involved. I can advise a person as to the law and how his or her case will probably get resolved. I say probably because when there are two parties involved it is impossible to predict what the other party will be seeking.
I often explain to a client that no matter how reasonable they may be, the process will also depend upon the reasonableness of their spouse. So I am asked, “What should I do?” I tell them that is their decision and they will know when it is time to make that decision. I have had individuals return to retain my services one or even two years after their initial consultation. It took that long to be able to answer the question, “What should I do?” Once the process has begun I am once again asked “what should I do?” when faced with the decision to either enter into a marital settlement agreement or proceed to trial.
Yet again, I can advise them based upon the law and my experience, but no attorney can ever guarantee a particular result if the case goes to trial. Often times the agreement is extremely fair and equitable and as such, I advise my client that it is a good deal for them and they should certainly consider it. If the offer is equal to “their worst day in court”, then the decision is also fairly easy. Why settle a case when you will probably get better results from a judge. The most common reason is financial since it cost more money to go to trial than to settle. We sometimes have clients who disregard our advice and accept a “deal” which may not be the best that they can receive.
Ultimately it is their decision to make. So, in reality, the person who can best answer the question “What should I do?” is the client. I can only hope that the decision is made after they consider my advice.