If you have recently separated from your spouse, you know that initiating the divorce process is a stressful and challenging time, even in the best of circumstances. Unfortunately, hiring the wrong lawyer, or a lawyer who is inexperienced in the area of family law, can intensify the conflict and have dire and often unforeseen consequences.
Hello, I’m Andrew Feldstein, managing partner of Feldstein Family Law Group. Today, I’m speaking about why hiring a lawyer, who practises exclusively in Family Law, may make your separation and divorce process less stressful. And, less expensive.
Frequently, spouses will initiate the process of divorce by hiring a lawyer they have used in the past. For example, they hire a corporate commercial lawyer who drew up a partnership agreement, or a civil litigation lawyer they hired years ago, when the neighbour built the fence line in the wrong place. The notion that any lawyer practising civil law will have the know-how and skill level necessary to help them resolve their matrimonial matter is, as many have learned, not true. And while sometimes hiring a general practitioner leads to the desired outcome, often it results in the conflict quickly escalating and the need for litigation.
Litigation is an issue that I encounter regularly in my practice. Often, clients come to me after their negotiations have broken down and litigation seems imminent. When I meet with the client, however, I discover that had the situation been handled differently, the need for litigation likely could have been avoided.
This is not to say that these clients’ former lawyers are incompetent; it is merely to say that family law is a very niche area that requires a certain skillset and level of experience that not all lawyers have.
Over the years, I have noticed a number of crucial differences between lawyers who practise in multiple practice areas and those who practice solely or almost exclusively family law. You may find these handy as you select the right family lawyer to represent you.
First, general practitioners working towards an amicable settlement via a separation agreement will often be over-conciliatory and not aggressive enough in their mission to obtain relevant information. The fact that the parties wish to negotiate a settlement does not mean that it is inappropriate to make demands, especially for financial disclosure, from the other party. Parties cannot negotiate effectively on the basis of their statements alone; only when both sides have disclosed their circumstances can an agreement be considered fair and reasonable. Negotiating amicably does not mean simply acquiescing to the opposing party’s wants or claims. This is a mistake that many general practitioners make and something that often leads the situation to escalate unnecessarily.
Second, practitioners inexperienced in the area of family law may prescribe to outdated practices and negotiation tactics that are not acceptable by today’s family law standards. In the past, lawyers would often be responsible for escalating the conflict between the parties by writing scathing and antagonistic correspondence, threatening the other party, or by preying on opposing party’s or opposing counsel’s lack of experience and knowledge. With the recognition we now have surrounding the effects of divorce, particularly on children of the marriage, such tactics are widely considered inappropriate, ineffectual and unacceptable by the judiciary and other practitioners.
Finally, general practitioners will occasionally lack a thorough understanding of substantive family law. Not only is family law an evolving practice area, but family law judges often distinguish similar cases on their specific fact situations, creating a level of unpredictability in the law. As a result, a lawyer that is not accustomed to dealing with family law matters on a regular basis may lack the knowledge and comprehension necessary to properly navigate a family law matter. What this means for clients are delays and increased expense, which can accelerate the conflict and quickly deteriorate relations between the parties.
In family law, experience counts. And choosing the right family law lawyer can save you time and money.
In the end, a lawyer practising exclusively in the area of family law will be able to rely on their experience in dealing with opposing counsel and various fact situations in order to better predict outcomes and provide the sound legal advice necessary in this stressful time. If you feel your case may benefit from a lawyer who practises exclusively in the area of family law, please contact Feldstein Family Law Group at (905) 581-7222 for more information or visit our website.
Please note: The script may not be exactly what is spoken, but contains the same information as presented in the video.