Lawyers know that there is an “oldest trick in the book” when it comes to divorce.
The "trick" is for one divorcing spouse (typically the one who filed the lawsuit) to convince the other spouse that they are looking after their best interests and urge them to: (a) hire the same attorney to minimize attorney's fees or (b) do an uncontested divorce or (c) waive customary discovery and rush into a settlement.
The key to this “trick” is to convince a spouse that lawyers are the bad guys who are supposedly only out for attorney's fees. That fear is used to convince the other spouse to give up, throw in the towel and agree to whatever is proposed rather than pay dreaded attorney's fees.
That, my friends, is the “oldest trick in the book in divorce cases.”
So how do you make sure you don't fall for the “oldest trick in the book?”
First and foremost, do your own investigation and think for yourself. Do you really think that the spouse who you are in the process of divorcing suddenly has your best interests at heart? Come on, now, think about that. Regardless of how well meaning and genuine your souse may appear, placing your trust in him or her while going through a divorce is a recipe for disaster. Except in exceedingly rare cases, the spouse who is seeking a divorce from you is putting his or her own interests first, not your interests. More than likely, they could care less whether you spend $1 or $1 million dollars on attorney's fees as long as they don't have to pay them. They want as much as they can get as fast as they can get it. And they will tell you whatever they can to convince you that it is a bad idea to (a) get your own lawyer, (b) engage in discovery or (c) put any time into pursuing anything more than what they have offered to settle the divorce. Don't be fooled.
Second, most people have very little to gain and far more to lose if they rush into a settlement agreement. If you waive “discovery” (and give up your right to insist on full financial and other disclosures), you may very likely be walking away from joint marital assets that you have a legal right to as well as potential spousal support. Is that really in your best interests? The litmus test is to ask yourself how you would feel if, six months after your divorce, you see you ex-spouse in a new car/house with their new paramour? Would you be angry that you got duped out of your portion of marital assets or spousal support? If so, it might not be, such a good idea to rush into things.
Third, if there is any possibility that your spouse is hiding assets or concealing an extra-marital relationship, you should never, ever rush into a divorce. Rushing benefits the cheating, lying spouse, not you.
Fourth, courts typically level the playing field when it comes to attorney's fees. If one spouse controls the purse strings and has access to all the money, that spouse is, in almost all cases, going to be paying attorney's fees on behalf of the other spouse. Judges want the parties to be on equal footing during a divorce so neither one gets an unfair advantage.
Fifth, unless you have only been married for a very short time and have no assets or debt to divide, you owe it to yourself and your future peace of mind, to get good legal counsel to represent your interests. Don't sell yourself short; it's your legal right to get information in the divorce process and to get what you deserve. If you waive those rights, you will have to live with regret for the rest of your life.
Not all lawyers are out to soak you in attorney's fees. Some are genuinely interested in getting you the best result you can get in a timely and efficient manner. Not every lawyer drags cases out forever or works to spin litigation out of control solely to run up fees. You need to do your homework, find the right lawyer for your case and insist on getting good representation. Stand up for yourself, be on the look out for the “oldest trick in the book” and trust your lawyer's advice.
For more information and strategies for your divorce, contact our experienced Georgia family law attorneys.