Understanding What Your Family Lawyer Can – And Can’t – Do For You


Posted on October 1st, 2012, by Matthew Smith in Custody, Divorce, Family Law. Comments Off

When potential clients come in to meet with me, they’re often experiencing a crisis in their lives unlike any other. Many people have expectations about the legal system and their lawyer’s role in healing the wounds of their divorce or custody dispute.

So what can the divorce or custody process do for you and what can’t it do? As you get started, where should your focus be?

Let’s begin with what the judicial process generally can’t do. Unfortunately, if you have been suffering through a difficult time, the legal process will never make you whole again. The judge won’t declare your husband to be a bad person or force a public apology from him. Typically, you will not get the opportunity to convince the judge and your wife’s attorney that you are in a morally superior position. We can’t force your husband to stop seeing his girlfriend, or your wife to admit her shortcomings and reconcile with you. There will be no public flogging for misbehavior, no plaudits for taking the high road, no ruling to heal a broken heart.

There are other professionals who can work wonders to make your life more fulfilling, but your divorce lawyer is limited by the legal system. The process just isn’t set up in a way that will provide much emotional satisfaction. The courts hear domestic cases every day for years, and often do not react to stories of infidelity and cruelty in a completely satisfying manner.

However, there is plenty that your lawyer and the system can do for you, and this is where you should focus your energy. If you have an unfaithful wife, the court’s punishment can come in the form of barring her from receiving spousal support. You may not be able to stop your husband from seeing his girlfriend, but you may be able to prevent him from exposing the children to that adulterous relationship. You can recover the marital funds that he used to buy her a diamond bracelet and two tickets to paradise. You may also have a marital property right to retirement accounts, and a strong argument for reimbursement of your legal fees, if your spouse’s actions have led you to your lawyer’s office.

Coming to your attorney’s office with the right expectations will help you to focus on what the system can do for you, and allow you to make better use of your time with your lawyer. The divorce attorneys at Livesay & Myers, P.C. strive to set the right expectations for our clients, so as not to over-promise and under-deliver.

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About 

Matthew Smith is a senior family lawyer in the Fairfax office of Livesay & Myers. He is the attorney in the firm most experienced in navigating the Fairfax County, Arlington and Alexandria family courts. An attorney since 2005, Mr. Smith has litigated every type of family law case in the courts of Northern Virginia, including high value equitable distribution cases, custody, support, and military divorce cases.



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