Monday, April 1, 2013

The Toxic Spouse and the Accomplice Lawyer -- The Perfect Storm

There's no magic wand in my business.  I can't conjure up a way to accelerate the process nor make a spouse settle, and I can't always get the judge to see your point of view.  If I could pick one magical power, besides the ability to fly, I'd make those lawyers who exacerbate the already agonizing process disappear.

But I can't.  I can explain the dynamics to allow a realistic assessment of the potential damage, I can empathize, I can rail right alongside, I can even get snotty with them, but I cannot make the rogue go away--although eventually many do.  Just not soon enough.

The accomplice lawyer takes hold of a vulnerable, angry or simply disturbed client and for reasons percuniary or personal, runs the litigation like a tangential trainwreck, to a family's great expense.

A word of caution.  Trying to explain to the spouse who is also the opposing party in litigation that their attorney's costing both sides excess time and money--only makes the reprobate far more attractive.  The litigant who allows their lawyer to poorly run the show may be getting some sadistic satisfaction, but likely just doesn't know who to trust.  Most folks in domestic litigation have never hired a lawyer nor seen the inside of a courtroom.  A charming scoundrel may upsell their abilities and fluff up the outcome.  Bad combination for the vulnerable litigant.

One good lawyer told me of an "aha" moment he experienced while in the midst of battle with a particularly onery opponent:  "He was like wrestling with a pig in the mud, when I realized that the pig was enjoying it!"  That happy bovine may be your spouse, the attorney, or both.

What to do?  Keep your eye on the ball, and don't try to control the behavior of the opposition. 

Avoid that which will worsen the circumstances-- bad behavior of your own, allowing the offender to push you to the point of frustration which manifests itself in physicality, threats or avoidance of orders--because then they've GOTcha.  And believe me, they'll exploit it, embellishing at each opportunity a silly solitary incident, thereby negating their own bad acts--all because of a drunk dial in the middle of the night, or tipping over his curbside garbage can in anger.

Let the process just happen, don't try to control or manipulate the other side, even if they seem not to have everyone's best interest at heart.  The good news is that these rascals are rare.

Eventually, everyone gets through it.  Hopefully a bit wiser, but poorer.

Thus, chose a captain wisely, and if something just does not feel right, trust your gut and jump ship. 

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