I do get regular inquiries from clients regarding whether or not I can represent both spouses in a divorce. It is impossible to do this. You may think you have an amicable divorce but things can change and usually do. What happens when things change? Who does the attorney represent then?
We have all heard about numerous Hollywood actors who have prenuptial agreements which protect their assets and streamline their divorce process. Given the high divorce rate and the large amounts of assets this makes sense for them. But does it make sense for the girl and boy next door? It can, in several instances.
There are clients who feel that they can do no wrong, and there are attorneys who take their clients' word at absolute face value, crucifying the other client as the world's worst parent/spouse. This is not consistent with reality and only leads to obscene legal fees and years of litigation. It wreaks destruction in the family financially and emotionally. One motion begets a response to that motion. And so on and so forth. It takes a strong attorney to stop the insanity. And a stronger client to agree to end the madness. How do you strongly advocate for your client without breaking the bank? It begins with reality testing.
In Pennsylvania, there are two types of divorce, fault and no-fault. In my practice, people rarely use fault divorce anymore as it does not give them much, if any, advantage in the division of assets. Most people go the no-fault divorce route. No-fault divorce is further divided into consensual and non-consensual.
Did the news of Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman's separation after thirty years of marriage shock you? It did shock me briefly, but I have had clients who were married for forty and even fifty years yet ended their marriages. The bigger question is, why do many people feel that we somehow have the right to comment on the marriage or separation of a couple we don't even know and never will?
Got your attention on that one? Seriously, it is said that sex and money are the two main reasons that people divorce. I can boil it down even further. People divorce because they have communication breakdown, mostly about sex and money.
What is parent (or parenting) coordination, you ask? It is a somewhat new process that has recently taken hold in several counties in Pennsylvania and also in many states across the country. A parenting coordinator is a professional who, by training, education and experience, assists the court, attorneys and parents in dealing with parents who are going through what I call "extreme custody litigation." The focus of a parenting coordinator is to make sure that the children's needs are being met and that the parties remain out of court as much as possible.