I see a lot of clients that are frustrated and annoyed with the slow pace of their pending Rhode Island divorce cases. There are several reasons why a divorce drags on for what seems to be an eternity. Here are my top 3:
Reason number one, because the parties are being difficult and refuse to terminate their marriage in a dignified fashion. Some couples just like to fight about minutia and be vindictive and spiteful. Based on my 27 plus years of experience, most spouses in this group usually don’t complain about the protracted nature of their divorce proceedings. They understand that their conduct has consequences-delay, delay and more delay and of course more money being spent on legal fees. Fortunately these types of couples ultimately stop waging war and get to the finish line after they start receiving their lawyer’s monthly billing statements!
Reason number 2, the lawyers involved in the case. There are a group of lawyers in every state including Rhode Island that convince their clients that they are superior and perceived as the so called “best” that money can buy ( at least so they think). They charge clients ridiculously high retainer fees and make promises that they will get more favorable results because of their alleged self proclaimed prestige in the practice of divorce law. These lawyers make a big deal out of everything. They make money by delaying a case. They charge by the hour, so the more they talk, and the more insignificant issues they raise, the more money they make. I have no patience for this group. It’s truly unfortunate when one spouse hires this category of attorney and the other spouse hires a practical, efficient, result orientated attorney that wants to get the case resolved in a fair and expeditious fashion. Resolving a divorce case quickly is not a sign of weakness but demonstrates practicality and good judgment. The simple truth is that any competent and experienced divorce lawyer can tell you where you will be at the end of the day ( end of your case) with razor like precision. So if the result is pretty much predestined, then why not get their sooner rather than later?
Reason number 3, the Judge. Let’s be honest. Judges are human. Some take the bench on time with razor like precision. Others don’t. Some have a hands on approach and actively get involved in the case and try to expedite a resolution of the case. Some don’t. Some Judges will assign contested matters for hearings quickly so cases get resolved and the parties can move on with their lives. This is my favorite type of Judge. They give the lawyers and litigants a reasonable amount of time to settle a case. If settlement is not successful, the Judge will conduct a hearing and decide the issues. Unfortunately some Judges hate to conduct evidentiary hearings and will do everything to avoid a hearing which typically results in further delay with the parties being pushed into endless mediation sessions. Don’t get me wrong, mediation can be beneficial in some circumstances. But if you have a good attorney who knows what he or she is doing and has advised you that your position on an issue is legally solid, then why do you need to be pushed into mediation.? A divorce mediator has no power to change your mind or that of your attorney!
Christopher M. Lefebvre, Pawtucket R.I.