Specialization and Geography
A few days ago a pastor friend asked for a referral to a criminal attorney for the family of a church member. To be able to give him the right name, I had to know the alleged crime and the jurisdiction. I would not necessarily send someone to the same person for a DUI as I would for domestic violence. If the crime happened in Meridian, I would not likely make a referral to someone from Greenville.
Like criminal conduct, while divorces are cut from a similar cloth, they are not created equally. Some things that will complicate a divorce are true custody issues, complicated financial circumstances, ownership of businesses, protection of significant non-marital property and highly emotionally charged allegations of fault.
Lies make things harder too.
While many lawyers could handle a divorce where the parties have been married for a few years, have one small child and a house, the field of available legal talent diminishes when that child has special needs and the spouses are involved with a multimillion dollar multigenerational family business.
Geography is an interesting subject in the world of Mississippi divorce. I am fortunate to be among the “Jackson divorce lawyers” who get to work in other parts of the state. I am happy to drive to the Coast or travel to Vicksburg or Tupelo to help someone with a complicated family dynamic. I have done it for years. In small towns around Mississippi, it is often necessary to look to Central Mississippi to find someone who is not fishing buddies or pilates partners with your spouse. While knowledge of your local chancellor’s tendencies and procedures can create a small advantage, these tendencies and procedures are not huge secrets that a few well-placed phone calls will not uncover.
Let me be real for a second. If you live in Southhaven and you think you would like to work with an attorney from Ridgeland, you are going to spend a little more. It may be worth it. It may not be. Divorces are like fingerprints, they are all different. (I was going to say snowflakes, but I use that for custody schedules.) To use a building analogy, the foundation of your life as a divorced person is of critical importance. If you go cheap, you may find you have lots of headaches to contend with in the future. But if you take your time to do it right on the front end, you are going to have a better chance of success.
While not always possible, the best divorces get filed away and are never looked at again by anyone. The former spouses do what’s right and fair and love their kids, making the best of a less-than-ideal situation. Those circumstances where the parties are in constant post divorce litigation are impossible to “win.” With winning being defined as a meaningful life filled with love, joy, peace and the rest.
If you are faced with divorce, take a serious inventory of your circumstances and seek the right type of specialist, taking into consideration your geography, but most importantly, your goals.
Craig Robertson is a divorce attorney practicing throughout Mississippi.