Sometimes you have to get tough. Sometimes you have to stand your ground and fight. That’s when you need a strong lawyer. But the strong lawyers, the truly excellent ones, will tell you that in most divorce cases it is best to start out by exploring the peaceful path.
Great lawyers will tell you that you can’t “win” a divorce in the same way you would win a business dispute over a contract. In a business litigation, where someone has breached a contract, a judge or jury could award you the entire value of the contract. Winning means getting the whole thing. But divorce litigation is different. In a divorce, a couple is dividing property. They are divvying up property that they’ve accumulated over the course of their entire marriage. The law provides that community property is to be split “equitably.” In other words, each side will be given approximately equal portions. In a divorce, you can’t win all the property. You’re only going to come away with about 50%. So, why not try to negotiate a fair resolution rather than battling it out in court?
To put it another way: Imagine that all your community property is baked into a pie. The judge is going to divide that pie. And even if your share turned out to be more than half, it’s still going to be less than what you had when you were married – because when you were married you had the whole pie. So, what’s the wisest thing you can do? The answer is simple: Make sure to give your attorneys the smallest slice of the pie. Here’s how it works: The more you fight, and the longer the litigation drags out, the larger the attorneys’ slice of the pie becomes. But if you are able to successfully negotiate a fair division of your assets rather than slugging it out in court, you can reach a settlement early and amicably — and keep more of the pie for yourself. You can do that by getting rid of the “I Win/You Lose” mentality. You can do it by exploring mediation, settlement conferences, or other forms of dispute resolution. You can do it by controlling your emotions and treating the division of property like a business negotiation rather than a tug of war between two angry people. You can do it by being reasonable, and being willing to compromise. That’s not being weak. It’s being smart.
Too often, when divorcing couples become involved in a long, protracted litigation over property, the only winners are the lawyers. That’s why you need a strong lawyer, someone who is looking out for your best interests. A lawyer who knows how to fight, but is willing to help you explore the peaceful path.
Gary J. Frank is a Family Law Attorney, a litigator, and a mediator with over thirty years of experience in dealing with divorce, paternity, custody, and parenting issues. For many years he acted as a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court, which gave him an insight into the inner workings of the courts that many attorneys lack. In addition to representing Family Law clients in litigation, we are also willing to help people by working with them on a Limited-Scope or Consultation-Only basis. Our office is located in the Biltmore area of central Phoenix, with satellite offices in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, Arizona. We can be reached by telephone (602-383-3610); or by email at [email protected] You can also reach us through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com. If you are in need of a consultation regarding any area of Family Law, contact us today. We’d be happy to help.