When mediating a divorce (aka marital dissolution) in Los Angeles (or anywhere, for that matter), I often need to start by helping the couple undo the damage their lawyers have done. Whether the issues are parenting, child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, property division, or any combination of those, lawyers always interfere with the communication between spouses. Misunderstandings are always part of the story when Los Angeles divorce lawyers have been involved. I often hear one person say “my lawyer said he never got the financial information you were supposed to get him,” and the other person invariably says “Oh really?? My lawyer says we have submitted ALL of the necessary information, and that it’s you and your lawyer who are screwing around.”
So the first bit of progress that happens in these mediations is that the couple becomes aware that their lawyers have been a big part of the problem. The couple already knows that the tens of thousands of dollars they’ve spent on the lawyers seems like too much, but now they start to realize just how unnecessary all of that was. In my mediations, all of the necessary information can be exchanged in a one-hour meeting. And often the couple realizes that their lawyers have been making them go into much more detail than necessary. The lawyers are far more worried about protecting themselves from malpractice than they are about helping their clients. They are right to be afraid of being sued themselves, because their clients are so often outraged by the process the lawyers put them through, as well as the outcome.
The most heartbreaking damage that Los Angeles divorce lawyers do is that they make it seem like your spouse is the problem. They say things like, “I’m the type of lawyer who likes to keep costs down and settle things efficiently, but in this case, your spouse and/or their lawyer, are being so difficult. . . that’s why this has cost so much and taken so long. . . it’s their fault.” Meanwhile the lawyer on the other side is saying the same thing about you and your lawyer. It works. People come away from lawyered-up divorces more convinced than ever that their spouse is selfish and stubborn. And sometimes they don’t even know their lawyer was a big part of the problem. Some families never recover from the trauma the lawyers cause.
Divorces in Los Angeles don’t have to be that complicated. You need to figure out a plan for your kids, a plan for ongoing financial support if any, and a way to divide up your assets and debts. It’s not rocket science and you don’t need an expert. If you have a complicated financial situation, you might choose to cooperate and hire one accountant to help you look at the tax effects, but adding two lawyers to the mix almost always does much more harm than good.
Even if you and your spouse are at a terrible emotional place with each other, it’s still far easier to work through any disagreements face-to-face. If you want to consult with a lawyer for an hour or two, you might find that helpful, but turning the process over to a lawyer is nearly always a big mistake.
Even most divorce mediators usually aren’t this honest about the harm lawyers do. That’s because they rely on referrals from lawyers, so many of them have sold out and become part of the harmful system that recommends lawyers. I get referrals directly from former clients, many of whom worked through complicated divorces with me, came away feeling good about themselves, each other, and their agreement, and spent at most about $2,000.
If any of the above resonates with you, I’d be happy to have a no-obligation phone conversation with you about your situation.