That’s a really challenging position to be in. As the party in a divorce, my client is the boss. My job is to educate my clients on the law and the options they have available to them. But my job is not to babysit my clients or to make decisions for them. I’m smart in my own way; each of my clients is smart in his or her own way. They’re the ones that have to live with the consequences of the divorce.
I’m going to strongly encourage my clients to make a particular choice, but at the end of the day, if they elect not to follow my advice, that is their prerogative. Working with a good divorce lawyer, you’re going to have all of your options in front of you including an idea of what it’s going to cost to pursue those options. And then you, as the divorce litigant, are going to have to make the decision as to which choice to make. I have clients all the time that tell me, “Thank you for the education, thank you for the advice. I appreciate that this is an option that I have available to me but when I weigh peace of mind, efficiency of getting the case over with, potential cost-savings versus potential expense, I’m going to choose an option you aren’t fully endorsing because that is what works best for me.” And in those instances, I’ve done my job, my client has done their job, and they have made the informed decision.
John Harding is the principal of the law firm of Harding & Associates in Northern California. He practices family law litigation and divorce mediation exclusively.