At the intersection of someone looking for support and someone wanting to be helpful, bad advice often rears its ugly head. People going through a divorce are naturally anxious and vulnerable. They worry about what is happening, what could happen and what didn't happen. Many people worry a lot.
At the same time, other people are natural caregivers and supporters. They want to give emotional support to their friend who is obviously struggling in a difficult situation. They have good motives, but end up being unhelpful in most cases.
I have witnessed many times the combination of a needy person going through a divorce and a friend who wants to help who gives advice. The result is usually confusion and actions conflicting with what the attorney would recommend.
Here are the common actors in that situation; Don't Listen to These People!
Law-related: Current or former court personnel, legal assistants, legal secretaries, law students, lawyers who don't practice family law, therapists and other professionals who sometimes work in the legal arena. Sometimes such people who operate or worked on the fringe of the legal system may carry an impression of being knowledgeable, but they're not! These not only are not your attorney currently representing you, but each one is not really qualified or appropriate for giving legal advice in a case they are not involved in. What may (or may not) have been true or worked in another case may be ineffective or inappropriate in your case. Their experience makes them seem qualified to help, but they're not.
Close by-standers: Relatives, neighbors and friends. The intention is usually good, but their experience or what they heard 2nd, 3rd or 4th-hand doesn't really work for you.
Non-law-related professionals: Police officers are a prime source of unintentional misinformation. Other professionals generally don't have good information for you either.
What all of these have in common is that they are not the lawyer representing you in your family law matter.
Some common, problematic advice can include such topics as:
- A suggestion to take an action without discussing with your attorney.
- Telling you that you shouldn't, or don't need to, comply with a court order.
- Directing you on what to say or write to someone.
- Suggesting what you can do with some asset.
- Advising whether or not you should go to court.