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Henry Gornbein

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Why is the Role of a Divorce Attorney Complicated?

Posted: 04/ 8/11 10:03 AM ET

Years ago divorces and family law or divorce attorneys were looked down upon in the legal profession. Divorces were considered an area of law that anyone could do, and few attorneys specialized in family law. Today that has changed greatly for several reasons. First, divorce is much more common, affecting at least 50% of the population, not only through those who are divorced, but through friends, relatives, and children who all have experienced divorce. Now divorce is a specialty and I would argue a very difficult specialty. It is now so common and huge that the Huffington Post has launched a Divorce site which has had an overwhelming response.

A good specialist in family law needs to have experience and knowledge of many areas of the law. Take, for example, the complicated divorce where we are dealing with a business. Other divorces have real estate, not only homes but also commercial real estate. There may be issues involving a professional practice. There can be issues involving the value of a medical degree, law degree or other professional license. There can be complicated discovery issues, including tracing assets, dealing with stock options. There are also issues involving child support, determining someone's income, especially someone who is self-employed in a cash business, or someone who goes through great peaks and valleys in his or her business or profession. Other issues involve a spouse out of work. There will be issues as to how long spousal support should last, if at all.

Then we get to the children. Custody and parenting time can be very complicated issues. It is my position that a good family law attorney must have a working knowledge of business law issues, corporations, real estate, tax issues, as well as knowing when to contact experts for the evaluation of various businesses, professional practices, as well as the marital home, real estate and other possible items. In our recent economic downturn where so many people have more debts than assets, divorces have become much more complicated. It is easy to divide assets, but much more difficult to figure out how to handle debts, and whether to keep or walk away from a house for example. Bankruptcy and divorce too frequently go hand-in-hand.

A good family law attorney needs empathy, needs to understand human frailties as well as the fact that when dealing with children, just fighting blindly for a client is not always best. A good divorce attorney will step back and look at the big picture.

Think of all these factors and remember that these cases are complicated and made even more so by the tremendous emotion that goes along with every divorce. Years ago, a friend of mine used this scenario - think of brain surgery where everything is very sterile and the surgeon is doing this very difficult surgery. Now think of a divorce with the same scenario and the only difference is that while you are trying to perform these delicate and complicated procedures, there is another surgeon on the inside fighting you. Divorce is complicated. It takes the right attorneys and judges to properly handle it. Think of this if you are contemplating or going through a divorce. You cannot just hire someone who dabbles or handles divorce part of the time. Too much is at stake. What happens during a divorce will impact upon the lives of your children as well as you and your spouse for many, many years. What are some of your thoughts?

 

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