Jaburg Wilk


Why is my Divorce Lawyer Friendly with the Opposing Lawyer?

Categories: Family Law, Article

Lawyers need to be friendly to each other during a divorce

You may be surprised that most divorce lawyers in Phoenix get along rather well.  Many times clients have a difficult time understanding that two lawyers, with diametrically opposed positions and clients, can have a good laugh or conduct themselves in a professional manner.  In spite of what you may hear, it is usually to your benefit when both lawyers are civil with one another.  Stipulations, known as formal agreements, can be more easily reached between the parties.  These will simplify your case, move it towards settlement and typically save you money.  Lawyers often meet without their clients to isolate areas of agreement and/or disagreement and to exchange information.  The information exchanged will always be discussed with you prior to any meeting. Lawyers can be courteous without compromising your position in the divorce.  If negotiations don't result in a settlement, your lawyer can and will vigorously represent you at trial.  Time spent exchanging information, speaking with opposing counsel and negotiating a potential settlement will better prepare you and your lawyer for trial.  

Lawyers routinely extend courtesies to one another, such as agreeing to extend deadlines or move a hearing date.  You may feel like every advantage should be pressed in your favor.  However, it doesn't help you, or your case, if your lawyer is seen as difficult and uncooperative by opposing counsel or the judge. In most cases, when a court grants an extension and a lawyer refuses to cooperate, it will cost money.  At some point, the shoe may be on the other foot.  When you are the one that needs more time or a hearing date moved, the other side will remember your lawyer's lack of cooperation and likely will refuse.   Again, this will cost you more money if court intervention becomes necessary.  If your lawyer has a good reputation, developed by cooperation and reasonableness, it will undoubtedly benefit you and your case.  

Your lawyer's job is to be objective, stay calm and rational during the emotional crossfire of a divorce.  Experienced domestic relations attorneys understand that anger can impair judgment and work to avoid feuds with opposing counsel.  There are some clients who are pleased when their lawyer attacks opposing counsel, until they realize the cost in additional legal fees and lost settlement opportunities caused by belligerence, unprofessional conduct and unnecessary aggression.  If you feel your lawyer is not being aggressive enough, you should voice your concern to your attorney.  Some cases certainly warrant intelligently aggressive positions.  If your desire for aggressiveness is fueled by anger, your best interests may not be served and your legal fees will certainly be higher.  

Finally, your lawyer will be honest with opposing counsel and will expect you to do the same.  Concealing information, lying, failing to make timely disclosures, or trying to hide behind legal technicalities will almost always hurt your case.  Lawyers and judges are angered by conduct which violates the rules requiring full and truthful disclosure.  Simply stated, your case will suffer if you are less than candid and your lawyer allows or even endorses this conduct.   

About the author: Laurence Hirsch is a family law attorney at the Phoenix law firm of Jaburg Wilk. Larry was selected as a 2012, 2013 and 2014 Southwest Super Lawyer Rising Star and also chosen by the Phoenix Business Journal for induction into the 2011class of "Forty Under 40".  He is a member of the State Bar of Arizona in the Family Law and Young Lawyers sections. He was formerly the Vice President of the Maricopa County Bar Association, Family Law Section. More recently, He has expertise representing high net worth individuals who have closely held businesses in their marital community.

This article is not intended to provide legal advice and only relates to Arizona law. It does not consider the scope of laws in states other than Arizona. Always consult an attorney for legal advice for your particular situation.