When Do I Tell My Spouse I Want A Divorce?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire – West Palm Beach, Florida

I often get this question at the initial consultation with a client.  My answer does not depend upon whether the client believes the case will settle or go to trial.  My answer depends upon the circumstances of the marriage and current relationship of the parties.

1.   If the parties are still living under the same roof:  

I advise my client to not say a word about divorce until he or she can photocopy as much evidence of the marriage as possible.  This includes bank statements, credit card statements, tax returns, mortgages, deeds, loan applications, loan documents, promissory notes, car titles,  income statements, pay stubs, health insurance policies, life insurance policies, medical bills, brokerage accounts, and any other documents to prove lifestyle of the marriage.  Only after the client has set up in this manner would I advise a client to discuss divorce with a spouse.   If the situation is amicable, that is, BOTH parties know the marriage has failed and just want to get on with life, then the discussion should be about a COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE.  If, on the other hand, one party is hurt and angry, a spouse should protect himself or herself from a situation conducive to domestic violence.  See a lawyer and get the divorce papers filed as soon as possible.

2.  If the parties are already living separate and apart:

The husband and wife know that divorce is coming and that it is just a matter of time.  In situations such as these, I advise clients to have us file the divorce papers and simply serve the other spouse without any tip offs.  If a client has a conscience, and wishes to tell the other spouse “you will be served”, oftentimes the receiving spouse avoids service of process of the divorce papers just for spite.  Without service of process, or an opposing lawyer accepting service, there can be no divorce. 

A very important point to remember is that the filing date of the divorce papers is often used as a cut off date for marital assets and debts.  Once the papers are filed in the courthouse, each party is responsible for himself or herself.  Until then, you are married, and may share the marital debt.

For more information, see our Firm’s web site at www.familylawwpb.com or call Robin Roshkind, P.A. at 561-835-9091 for a consultation with one of our attorneys.  The Firm services husbands and wives of Palm Beach County, Florida.

What Makes A Good Divorce Lawyer?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire – West Palm Beach, Florida

All lawyers have to succeed in law school.  If students don’t reach a certain level of understanding, they just don’t get JURIS DOCTOR OF LAWS degrees.  Then PRACTICING ATTORNEYS must have a BAR LICENSE from the state in which they work.  In Florida, the bar exam is given twice a year and it is very, very difficult to get a passing grade.  Without that passing grade, without a minimum of legal knowledge, a lawyer does not get licensed to practice law in the State of Florida.

So assuming there are a bunch of licensed, practicing, divorce lawyers in a room, how do you know which one to pick?  There are several telltale criteria:

1.  Is the lawyer busy?  There are two ways to look at this.  Would you rather go to an empty restaurant or to a packed one?  If the lawyer is NOT busy, there has to be a reason and it would not be a good one. 

2.  Is the lawyer supported by a staff?  If the lawyer cannot afford at the least a secretary, there has to be a reason.

3.  Does the lawyer work from his/her kitchen table?  If the lawyer does not have a true office, be suspicious.

4.  Does the lawyer always look disheveled, drive an old busted up car, pant due to being overweight, generally of poor hygiene, screaming at his staff?  These are lifestyle indicators that may show an unbalanced personality.

5.   Is the lawyer always hyper, multitasking, or with a short attention span.  Be afraid, be very afraid. 

6.  Do other lawyers associate with this lawyer?  Is he/she active in voluntary bar associations or other professional organizations?  In the community at large?  The answer is obvious.

These initial things you should look for go to the type of person the lawyer is.  But wait…how do you know the healthy, stable, connected, prosperous lawyer is a good one?  Or better yet, good for YOU?

You need to sit with the lawyer in his office and discuss your particular legal matter.  You don’t have to agree with the lawyer, you just have to assess the competency.  You should see how the staff treats the lawyer, hopefully with respect.  Is the lawyer knowledgable?  Experienced?  Specialized in family law matters?  Is the lawyer confident?  Does the lawyer take time to explain things to you?  Is the lawyer concerned with the details of your matter and the big picture? 

IS THIS A PERSON TO WHOM YOU WISH TO ENTRUST WITH YOUR FUTURE?  That is the ultimate question.  At our Firm, we meet with clients face to face to discuss the facts of their marriage.  And we don’t rush.  We ask detailed, intimate questions about the relationship, finances, children.  We do a lot of listening, and a lot of hand holding, because the lawyers at the firm all have seen the effects of bad marriages and know what it feels like.

But more than that, the lawyers at the firm have a good reputation…with other lawyers as well as with the judges who sit on the family law bench in Palm Beach County.  The Firm’s litigators are skilled, experienced, respected, and this is all we do.  We do not take car accident cases, slip or fall, dog bites, commercial litigation.  We are divorce lawyers.  And have been for a long time.   

In summary, you must feel comfortable with your choice of divorce lawyer.  If you are not, it is time to switch, before mistakes are made and it becomes too late to do anything about it.  For more information about the lawyers of Robin Roshkind, P.A. (Robin Roshkind, Catherine Eaton or Maria Patullo), please visit our website at www.familylawwpb.com or call 561-835-9091 to schedule a meeting.