Civility in the Midst of Divorce

A pending divorce brings out the most colorful rainbow of emotions and behaviors in a husband and wife. Even when a divorce is fairly amicable, it’s hard for spouses to keep feelings of bitterness, anger, fear, and betrayal under wraps. Family law attorneys often advise their clients to maintain a calm demeanor when interacting with their soon to be ex-spouses.

So what’s a spouse to do when they want to yell or scream or make life miserable for their former husband or wife? Sadly, spouses will often channel these emotions to their attorney, expecting the attorney to engage in excessively aggressive and caustic behaviors when dealing with opposing counsel, opposing parties, and anyone else involved in the case. Too often, clients who push their attorney to engage in such behaviors wind up in a far worse position. Listed below are the top three reasons clients should not push their attorney to be a “pit bull” attorney.

  1. Give a Little, Get a Little
    • No attorney is perfect as all attorneys are humans. Invariably, the occasional discovery deadline will be missed.  Often attorneys will allow the other side some extra time to follow through. Clients who push their attorneys for an immediate and harsh response when the opposing side’s discovery is a day late, or when a responsive pleading is a day late, are running the risk of puncturing their own safety cushion further along in the case.
  2. Mounting Fees
    • If a client pushes their attorney to respond to every single communication, pleading, or mailing from the opposing counsel with an aggressive and plentiful paper war, the client’s bill will rise in direct correlation to the time the attorney spends. Additionally, clients who refuse to settle on reasonable terms and insist on trial against the advice of their attorney, just to “prove a point”, will also incur higher fees associated with the costs of preparing and conducting litigation.
  3. What Goes Around, Comes Around
    • Attorneys who present themselves as “pit bulls” develop a reputation as such among their fellow barristers.  Most attorneys, and judges, prefer to conduct their business as collegially as possible and the “pit bulls” are often not well received. By pushing an attorney to engage in vitriolic behavior, a client will often alienate the judge, and other attorneys in the case, resulting a lower likelihood of a positive outcome of the case overall.


If you need help with a possible divorce, please contact Winslow & McCurry at 804-423-1382.