In this episode, The Value of Honesty With Your Divorce Attorney, Channa is joined by guest Tyler Crowe. Tyler Crowe is a divorce attorney and offers unique insight into the role of honesty in divorce, He shares his advice for marriage and divorce, and how you can be both pro-marriage, as well as a divorce attorney.
Below is a summary of topics discussed in the episode.
Episode 6: The Value of Honesty With Your Divorce Attorney
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Perspective on Divorce from a Lawyer
- “In my experience during the process of divorce what I find with our clients is that they’re not thinking about things that are going to impact them down the road after this divorce is over. They’re not thinking about how to divide their retirement accounts, how to separate the car titles, how to separate the house title, and about the custody arrangements and the implications of those custody arrangements. What they’re thinking about is the emotional aspects of the divorce. It’s not an oncoming train and you will get through it at one point. So my job is to help guide you through that process, let you know your options, so that you can make an informed decision at a time where you are too emotionally involved to make that decision or to think about those options.”
- “It’s not my job to be an information gatekeeper. If there’s a fork in the road and I know that going left takes you off a cliff, but going right takes you to a meadow, I’m not just going to tell the client ‘Just go right. Trust me.’ If you ultimately decide that left is the way that you want to go, then that’s the decision. My job is to give you all the information, let you know about the consequences of your actions as I see them and as the law would see them, and then let you make that decision.”
Having a Stake in the Outcome
- “I hear that a lot in my office, ‘whatever you think is best.’ So you have to reiterate with people, ‘no, I need you to have a stake in this.’ How a case goes is decided by what the client wants. I have a stake in this because I want the best outcome for you, but at the end of the day, you have to tell me what’s the best outcome.”
- “I always recommend that during the divorce, before the divorce, after the divorce, people talk to somebody. Talk to a counselor. I think counseling is always a great option. I think that it can help people in ways that I certainly can’t. I’m not a licensed counselor or a therapist and so that’s the first step. Accountability is a great first step. A great next step is to realize that you might have flaws but that those flaws are fixable. Counseling can help. You’re not broken.”
- “I think sometimes people will defer to their old selves or themselves during the marriage. It’s also my job to let them see or to show them that they don’t have to be that person, you can change your roles. I want you to see that your your life can change.”
Focus of Divorce
- “I find that people with children sometimes do just need to take it day to day, and that’s okay. Whatever stage of life you’re in when you’ve reached the decision that divorce is the right decision, we can help you. If you want to today to take it day by day, let’s take it day by day and we’ll help you through that. If you want to question how am I going to retire because this divorce is going to cost me X, Y, and Z, we can talk about that. We can talk about how you will be impacted throughout the divorce.
- “So it’s difficult but I think what you can do is look at the track record of the attorney. Look at their history. Look at their reputation throughout the community and decide for yourself if that’s someone that you can see yourself working with. You have to take that first step on your own and trust that you’re making the right decision. I think it goes back to that honesty that I talked about with your attorney. if the attorney is telling you the truth, you’re gonna feel good, you’re not gonna feel like you’re getting a sales pitch if that makes sense. I’ll tell people often you have to get naked in front of me. It’s not like you’re hiring a doctor in that way, but you do have to tell me things that you may not want to tell everybody. You have to feel comfortable enough to do that.”
Honesty with Your Lawyer
- “I often ask in my consultations “what is the other party going to say about you,” “what’s the worst thing they’re gonna say,” and that question sparks an answer in people. They’ll look at themselves honestly and say “oh, I do this” or “oh, I do that.” I very rarely if ever have had a client that said “nothing, I’m perfect.” Someone will always come up with something about themselves that might be negative and so that sparks an honesty and a kind of rapport that I’m not going to judge you. I’m still going to help you, even if something you tell me is really bad or you’re really ashamed of.”
- “Every case is different. There is no form for divorce, so you need to be patient. It is a process that is going to feel at times excruciating, but every case is different. The honesty and the communication between you and your attorney is important, so that you understand what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. If you’re open and honest with clients, they will understand why it’s taking so long. If you’re not getting the questions about the timeline or what’s taking so long, then you could start to reconsider your decision as far as who you’ve hired, but be patient.”
Changes in Divorce Law
- “I think that the ability to gather information is only going to keep expanding. I would tell people that it is very hard to hide anything nowadays. I mean we are attached to our phones and our phones have a lot of information. Google can track where you’ve been for the last week, every location you go to, and those reports are easily available. Discovery is a very complicated process, but it’s made simpler by all this technology, because it’s all able to be uploaded to the cloud. I can get a link that automatically backs it up on a flash drive live.”
Financial Parts of Divorce
- “What I have learned from Dave Ramsey and what I teach to others is that money is at the root of all success and all failure in a marriage. What I mean by that and what I have taken from his teachings is that, it’s really about trust. If you cannot trust someone completely with your money, then I don’t think your marriage is going to be one that lasts long term. There are people that have separate bank accounts in this world and they’ve been married for a long time, longer than me. I think that at the root of their marriage, there is a trust issue, whether they would admit it or not. If you have a separate bank account, it’s not the end of the world. You can have joint accounts and you can have success with that, but I think at the end you really have to decide do I trust this person completely.”
Communication About Finances
- “I think what it really shows people is that there’s a grasshopper and there’s the ant. There’s the saver and the spender. There are different types of people when it comes to money. I’m not saying if you’re one type or the other you’re going to fail your marriage. But depending on what type you are and knowing what type you are, I think that can help spark communication between the parties. For example, say listen you know I view money this way and I want to be open and honest with you, it makes me anxious when we don’t have an emergency fund. Or I want to be open and honest with you, it makes me anxious when we have credit card bills this high. I think another aspect of the money conversation is getting on the same page, becoming a team of husband and wife.”
Being Pro Marriage as a Divorce Lawyer
- “Yes, I think it’s a common misnomer to say that divorce attorneys favor divorce. I think my first option to tell people again is don’t get divorced. Do every single thing you can to make your marriage work. If you have done everything and you are honest about that then I will help you. I want to help you through that process. I don’t want my marriage to end, I don’t want anybody’s marriage to end, I don’t want bad things to happen ever. But we don’t live in that world and so when that world comes to your front door and you want to be prepared for it, I will help you with that.”
- “When you’re talking about divorce what you should consider is that this is the last option. I have tried everything. I cannot think of anything else to try to save my marriage and the other party is unwilling to help save it. So this is the last option, the last word, the nuclear option.”
Being an Honest Lawyer
- “I think that the litigation cost, I can tell you exactly what it will cost you in the end. But I am never going to be able to tell you what a three-year divorce is going to cost your kid. ‘Who do I have to live with? Who’s picking me up from school today? Where am I going to go for Christmas?’ I can’t tell you what the cost is going to be. No one’s going to be able to weigh that. It’s going to be heavy on your heart. What I want to do is tell you that the release of the burden is not giving up.”
- “There are studies that show a client would rather have a speedy and ineffective result than a drawn out and effective result. Make the decision, get on down the road, start over. But when you’re in that mode what you need then is someone to tell you “wait, it’s going to have an end. The speedy option may be the best option for when a client comes in on day one, but on day 30 it might not be and again it goes back to not knowing what you don’t know.”
- “What I ask of our clients is be 100% open and honest with me about everything and we’ll handle it. You tell me about bank accounts, you tell me about things that might affect the outcome of your case. Then I can be open and honest with you about how those things will impact your case.”
- “In today’s world, there’s a million different pieces of advice about how to stay out of a divorce attorney’s office. I think the best way is honesty and communication. Being open with your counterpart about what you need and then what you’re willing to give. Be clear about your emotions if you have been hurt by something that your partner has said, but then also if they apologize for that behavior be able to receive that apology, and put it out of your mind. You will have arguments maybe even every day, they’ll range in size, but be open, honest, and completely transparent about your beliefs and your feelings. I also think there’s four principles that before you get married, you should talk about with your spouse. Money being number one. Religion, if you’re going to follow it one way or another. There are times when there will be families that they have one family that practices and one family doesn’t practice. If you have that conversation about in-laws, kids, money, and religion, I think your success in marriage will be amplified. Learn from the mistake of the first go-round.”
About Channa Borman
Channa Borman is a family law attorney who provides straight talk and honest advice on family law issues. In this podcast, she discusses various legal topics and offers practical, timely tips for people dealing with these difficult situations. Guests will include clients Channa has advised, and they will share their experiences with divorce. Topics will consist of unexpected hardships, co-parenting, and long-term life changes resulting from this decision. Channa will also be joined by colleagues such as divorce counselors, moderators, other family law attorneys, and subject matter experts.
With her expertise in the legal field and the guests’ first-hand experiences, this podcast will be great to tune into. If you’re in a similar phase in your life or you have questions, please reach out to us at email@example.com