Seasoned Trial Lawyers in Oklahoma and Arkansas

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Ideals versus Reality

by | Feb 24, 2024 | Third Party Rights, Wealth Protection


We represent people from all walks of life. This article is primarily for well-heeled HNW or UHNW individuals who find themselves involved in a family law dispute. “Family law” covers a broad range of legal issues, going well beyond divorce. The affluent may encounter family law litigation in adoption proceedings, guardianships of family members, or as collaterals to divorce and child custody contests.

As a society, our views of the legal system and its players (lawyers) are shaped by movies and television. Additionally, most HNW and UHNW individuals and families are accustomed to working with uniformly sophisticated, competent, and diligent advisors and professionals who operate with a high standard of care. As a result, it can be shocking to encounter the reality of state trial courts and the conduct of many attorneys in litigation.

If you are used to being treated like an intelligent adult by accomplished, well-meaning physicians, money managers, and concierges, you may be unprepared for the sneering, passive-aggressive, manipulative mistreatment that passes for advocacy and is tolerated by our legal system. Every attorney you encounter will have at least one post-graduate (law) degree, but their education tells you nothing about their financial knowledge, skill, or culture. Professional decorum, elegance, and authenticity are rare qualities — exceptions rather than norms — for family law practitioners.

There is a section of family law called collaborative law. It is based on an idea that is founded on a kernel of truth: our adversarial system is destructive and runs counter to a long-term positive resolution of changes in family goals and dynamics. The collaborative process requires buy-in and trust by all participants. It is also not what this article is about.

While we are proponents of alternative dispute resolution options such as collaborative divorce, mediation, and arbitration, we are also realists. Not everyone “buys in.” Many litigants view a divorce or child custody contest as a cash-grab or zero-sum game. Many lawyers advise their clients based on an uninformed scorched-earth approach, the lawyer’s short-term financial interests, or their clients’ misguided expectations of the legal system. Because the standards of professional work for attorneys are so low, such lawyers may act as described in this article and have long careers, leaving a trail of years of devastation and wrecked lives in their wake.

There’s only one thing you can do about it: hire competent counsel who will treat you with dignity and fairness while pulling no punches when it comes to combating misconduct, poor legal analysis, and erroneous advice.  If you hire a collaborative attorney to represent you in contested litigation, they may be as surprised and set back as you when they get their first courtroom dose of half-truths, mistruths, and personal attacks.

While we have the financial education and acumen that moneyed families naturally expect from their advisors, we have approached our line of work — contested family law matters — with intentionality. Each of our lawyers has meaningful real-world experience in the trenches: in criminal defense litigation and trials, in juvenile deprived proceedings and trials, and working in rural state and tribal courts across the Midwest.

We are proud of our work and the special recognition we’ve received from peer and client reviews, particularly the Chambers HNW guide and the Spear’s Family Lawyers index. But make no mistake. We are hyper-aware and equipped to deal with the lowest level of gamesmanship and deception that the opposition can muster. In every case, we work to provide our clients with the best private resolution possible. When we are in court, we make the strongest case possible, uncompromised by the status quo, local politics, or substandard practices.