Recently a friend quoted on his Facebook page from an article entitled Do you want to be right or married?. Given family law, one of our strongest suits here at Schmidt Law Firm, involves so much about marriage, I figured it would be worth my while.
The writing style was straight forward and the author’s point was well taken; when arguing, both parties may very well be “right” because their perspectives on “right” and “wrong” are self imposed. Through empathy and trying to see the field from the other person’s vantage point, one may realize both parties can be “right.”
“Tyler, what does this have to do with divorce?” I hear you asking. Simple, do you want to be right or do you want to be divorced? Many clients, former, current and perspective, come into our offices and want to be right. They want validation and are under the mistaken belief the court is the best way to achieve that goal. A divorce proceeding is designed to divide the marital estate equitably and ensure any children involved are taken care of the best way possible. While often treated like a boxing ring, even by some attorneys, this is not, nor has it ever been the purpose of the court.
Clients often will spend large amounts of assets in order to “get” their soon-to-be ex-spouse. I have written motions before and argued about pieces of furniture which were ultimately worth far less than what the client paid for in regards to my time; but they wanted to be right.
This is not to say there are no good reasons to fight the good fight. Let us not error so far on the side of cooperation that we sign away child support rights, alimony, our equitable share of the retirement investments and so on. Let us not agree to child support and alimony amounts that exceed our incomes or make taking care of our own needs impossible.
All too often I will be meeting with a potential client who did not have counsel while divorcing, and they agreed to things I would never advise a client to agree to. The benefit of having experienced counsel in these matters is the counsel an attorney can provide. Family law attorneys worth their salt will not hesitate to offer a professional opinion on whether the fight you want to pick is a legitimate fight worth pursuing, or a personal vendetta which should be left behind.
So if you are in the midst of divorce and the Love-sac bean bag chair or the flat screen TV is the sticking point, ask yourself “do I want to be right or do I want to be divorced?”