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The Burden of Proof Episode 11: Contemplating Divorce? Here’s What To Do Next.

In the latest installment of JC Law’s official podcast, The Burden of Proof, we explore the behaviors and factors that can lead someone to consider a divorce from their spouse. JC Law’s Chief Operating Officer, Elise Crawford-Gallagher, sits down with Founding Partner and CEO James E. Crawford, Jr., Esq. to discuss the steps one should take if a divorce is potentially on the horizon. Jim draws from his 30+ years of litigation experience to provide a clear roadmap for navigating the complex, and often difficult, process of determining if a divorce is the right decision to make. 

Our hosts begin by stressing the importance of starting the divorce process as early as possible before explaining the need for an aggressive, experienced attorney in this situation to protect your best interests. Next, they cover the necessary steps to take after deciding to file and review the types of questions one might be asked during an initial consultation with an attorney. Finally, they wrap up by explaining the reasons behind JC Law choosing to provide FREE consultations to our potential clients, and the value we believe we can provide in doing so. 

It’s no secret that most people who consider filing for a divorce aren’t sure where to begin, and that’s where we come in. For a detailed look at the divorce process and the necessary steps to take after deciding to file, tune into this week’s episode of The Burden of Proof! 

Don’t forget to like and subscribe to JC Law’s YouTube Channel for more in-depth discussions of your legal questions! 

CLICK HERE for a FREE consultation. 

Episode Transcript:

Elise: Welcome back to Burden of Proof podcast. I’m Elise Crawford Gallagher, our COO here at JC Law. I’m here with our CEO, James Crawford.

James: Hello.

Elise: Hi. Our topic today is contemplating a divorce. Our mission at JC Law is to educate the next generation of legal professionals in order to create a more just and accessible legal system in service to our clients.That means we are constantly trying to improve our client satisfaction and experience and that all starts at the very beginning of when a client first reaches out to us and says I have a problem, I need your help. So today we’re going to be talking about what it means to think that you may need a divorce, what the next steps are, who do you turn to, what questions do you ask. We’re here to answer those for you. So, Jim, how do we start the process of contemplating a divorce?

James: Well, I wanted to do this podcast because, a lot of people have asked me questions over the last few weeks about, number one, how do we get involved in the divorce work and how does this whole thing work? It’s not magic.When I like to think that divorces start and the seed for divorce starts a long way before the actual divorce.

Elise: Of course.

James: Which is unfortunate. You know, and people who, are contemplating divorce or actually get a divorce, it’s not as if they are waking up one day and say, yay, I’m gonna get a divorce. I mean, it’s it’s a terrible time. Right. Terrible time, yes. It happens. But, most people don’t want a divorce. But it’s a gradual process and people come to a finalization in their mind and then when they really start that something happens that trigger when they start thinking, actually now contemplating divorce. It’s become real in my mind. So when a person actually reaches out to a lawyer at that stage, it varies. Some people will almost never reach out. They’ll wait till the sky falls in. They’ll wait for their spouse to come over to them and say, you know what? I’m getting divorced. Do what you gotta do, and then they’ll finally go to the worst. Some won’t even go then.But other people will go ahead of time and say, I’m just thinking about this and I wanna know what, my rights are and where I’m gonna end up and what have you. You know, in today’s society, there’s a reason why we’re growing, unfortunately. You know, it’s, you know, it’s a reason why our firm who does probably more divorce work than, ninety nine percent of of the the firms on the East Coast. There’s a reason why we’re doing what we’re doing. And I said, I say unfortunate, but this is what we do. And the only solace I get out of that is to try to help the people in that situation.You know, when someone’s sick, someone has a medical problem, the doctor’s job is to try to help them. Our job as lawyers is to try and teach, educate, and help that person.

Elise: Of course.

James: So if if someone has finally come to a conclusion where they’re now actually contemplating a divorce, you need to step into action. That action is to really meet with a lawyer. You have to meet with a lawyer. It’s uncomfortable. It’s like, you know, going to the doctors, but you have to do it and you have to figure it out. The problem and the issues that most people are worried about, number one, it’s usually children. Who’s gonna get custody, who’s not gonna get custody, who’s gonna see the children, how is this gonna affect the children, etcetera, etcetera. Anyone that tells you it’s not gonna affect the children are lying to you. It just is what it is. But as a therapist may tell you and other doctors, professionals, maybe it’s better that the kids are not in that environment. So it’s something that needs to be balanced and what have you. But the point is that when you come to a firm like ours, we want to be able to walk you through, what you need to do to get to where you need to be. If you don’t pull the trigger, all the better. But if you do pull the trigger, well, we need to get in in into a horse in the saddle and make this work for you.

Elise: So can I ask, It sounds like we can speak to someone who’s just thinking of filing a divorce? You don’t need to reach out to an attorney when you at the very last minute, when you absolutely have to file for divorce. You can start early on in the process.

James: You you should. Right. Okay. You should. And, most people feel guilty. Most people feel like they don’t wanna even think about something like that and they’ll try to hold on, hold on, hold on. And the result is that usually ends in a catastrophe. Protective orders, other types of domestic violence, people angry, people get so frustrated. So they end up in a situation where it’s out of their control. It’s in your control if you go and find out what you’re up against, Okay? People are worried about their kids, but they’re also worried about other things, property. I’ve worked all my life or she’s worked all her life, and we have acquired this property. Am I now gonna have to give it to another person? Maybe I wanted to give it to my kids. But, it’s not gonna happen. Alimony is a huge deal. I mean, that that’s something that is such an esoteric discussion because there’s no question across this country that alimony, is needed. There’s times when it is needed. You know, fairness is fairness. It just depends. But there’s times also when it is completely unfair and people take advantage of it. So that’s why you’ll never have robots for judges. You have to have that equation, but here’s some news for everybody. The judges make decisions based upon what is presented to them. They’re not gonna make a decision what they don’t hear. They’re not gonna make a decision about something that they don’t know. They’re not gonna be able to look at evidence that they don’t have in front of them. It’s your lawyer’s job to present that in your best interest, and you need someone or a lawyer at a firm that is aggressive.We are aggressive. We have to be. There’s we we It could be someone’s life. There’s cases that it’s just kind of, you know what, Jim, we don’t get along, let’s just make this work and get it going. That’s great. And we try to work that out and we work towards that. But there’s also times that no matter what you do, you’re not gonna be able to resolve it. No matter what you do, you cannot resolve it. You need to get ready to go into the courtroom.You know what the funny thing about it is? Thirty three, thirty four years of practicing law. The more I would take a case like that and my lawyers would and prepare prepare for trial, two things happen. One is it’s more likely to resolve. And number two, you’re more likely to end up in a position of more success because you’re preparing for it. There’s a lot of other issues, obviously debt. If you’re in the military, we do a tremendous amount of military divorces. And we have done this for a long, long time. This is what we do every day. It’s one of those areas of life that when I say, Oh, I’m a divorce lawyer. People raise their eyebrows like, Oh, that’s great. I don’t wanna talk to this guy until they need to talk to this guy.

Elise: Right. Okay.

James: Then they wanna talk to me. But it’s, it’s very interesting. There’s a lot of social issues to go along with that. But the point, the whole point of this podcast I think really is that, you know, the word contemplating. You know, most people think contemplating is when you get hit in the face. Now you gotta contemplate it. No, the word the time to contemplate it is when you, your gut tells you. Your gut tells you and it could be an early divorce, it could be a divorce of many years. And the thing is that it doesn’t have to be the end of the relationship with that person. It could just be a different hat in a different relationship.

Elise: Sure.

James: And there’s many times that happens. But there’s also many times when, you know, people are cheating on people and there’s just a lot of ill will and there’s a lot of bad feelings. Money always finds its way into the equation. Start early. Start early and also come prepared. Now look if you sit down with me and you come to me and you have this blank look and all you say to me is I need help. Well, I can I can walk through walk you through the a to z, but it’s really better if you think ahead of time before the actual meeting about, what issues are you concerned about? You know? I can you know, in my words, we can bring you to reality about what’s going to happen? As much pain and difficulty that people have when they initially go through this, it’s okay. Because the end result is if you do it the right way, everybody’s gonna be okay. Right. The kids are gonna be okay. You’re gonna be okay. And you’re gonna protect yourself and the kids. And it all depends upon other party. When you need to throw some punches, you gotta throw some punches. Believe me. We do what we need to do, but there’s also the other side of the coin.

Elise: Right. So if someone listening today is contemplating divorce, they feel that in their gut, that maybe their relationship is headed for separation. What is their first step in interacting with JC Law?

James: You know, I think that you gotta go online and you gotta contact us. There’s many ways of doing it. You could just chat.

Elise: Right, we have a chat option on our website.

James: And you can, it’s so hard for people to like formally go in. First of all, some people are worried that their spouse is gonna find out to go and see a divorce lawyer. And that, you know, they’re worried about walking into a law office and somebody’s gonna see them or what have you. Those days are gone pretty much, but still are people to do that. So, you know, I we we do consultations where people are sitting in their car at lunchtime. They they they wanna they wanna figure this out. We do consultations, you know, sometimes late at night, you know, on the weekends. And it’s not that we’re some kind of like, we doing it twenty four seven. This is just the reality of the way the world works and and what goes on with people. We’ve had moms that just drop their kids off, you know, at a school function. They have fifteen minutes. Dads that are are leaving a sports game with their kids.We can walk you through a to z  of things you probably haven’t even thought about. Okay? But if you come on strong and you do it the right way, then we can make it successful. I will say this, you know, most divorces are messy.

Elise: Okay. I’m sure.

James: Okay. Very few people can keep their head and say, well you know what honey?I loved you for twenty years. You loved me and we no longer but I’m gonna do this and I’m gonna give you that. No. It doesn’t work that way, especially if somebody has stepped out on the other person and there’s resentment or what have you. But I will say this, realize if you’re contemplating a divorce that time many, many times will change your thought process. And you need a lawyer that can not just process this for you. Right. You know, you know, you don’t need a processor. You need someone to basically guide you and discuss these things with you and make you understand. Collaborative relationship. And that’s what a good lawyer does.

Elise: What I think is unique about JC Law is that you have two options when you call our office. So when you call, you will be put in place in contact with the intake specialist. Who will hear about your story and direct you to the perfect attorney. The attorney on call who will speak to you immediately. You have access to one of our attorneys immediately when you call.

James: We have.

Elise: Or if you are in a position where you only have a minute and you want to schedule a call for later at a time when it’s maybe more inconspicuous with your spouse or something, then we can do that as well. Well.

James: There’s a lot of different options. Right. We have a lot of lawyers and a lot of professionals that can can walk you through this. And, you know, our mission in life, so to speak, is to help people, that find themselves in a position where they have to get divorced. Either it’s your own instincts or your spouse is doing this and it’s something to go on is fair. You know it’s interesting too because it’s an esoteric discussion about society. You know the courts have changed a little bit. You know, there’s certain law firms that have to just represent men and there’s certain law firms that will not represent. And I think that’s silly. You know, I mean, there are certain issues that may pertain to a man versus a woman, but, you need someone who is versatile, firm is versatile that understands both sides because if you’re representing one side, you still need to understand what you need to do in order to be successful. Okay? So, we have that, and, we have the ability to if you need to be, you know, talked off a ledge, if you need to be assured, get in touch with someone. At least begin a conversation. Develop a relationship. Even if it’s just texting or communicating, we can get you there.

Elise: What are some of the questions that an attorney will ask someone initially when they come to contact our firm about divorce.

James: But we we have to get some index information. Sure. K? Because, if you, you know, if if the husband number one calls on a Monday and wife number one calls on a Wednesday, we need to know that we can’t represent the lives of the parties. Right? So names are a big deal. And the first thing I do, to be honest with you, at least, is when I meet someone in person especially, or online is I do an assessment of just what’s going on with them. I can tell right away someone’s in a great deal of distress. At least pretty quickly, I can figure out what they need to do. And sometimes you need to calm that person down. Sometimes you need to rev it up. Sometimes you just say, Hey, you’re in trouble here. You’ve gotta get this fixed because wake up, wake up. Your husband or wife is telling you this and you’re not doing anything, you better wake up because you know And there’s certain things you may need to do as far as bank accounts, credit cards, kids, a lot of things, okay? So that’s one of the things. But you know an assessment of the immediacy of what’s going on. And then I back it down from there. We go through issue through issue through issue. The first consultation is not gonna be a detailed conversation unless unless we decide we wanna do that. You know, if the person wants to spend time, then sure, we’ll do it. But it’s generally a a, a general health exam, you know, figuring out what we need to do in order to get you to the next step and to do something. People feel guilty about taking this step. And if they don’t take the step and do the assessment and move on it, they could really get hit between the eyes and they could really knock them down, it could be a real problem. Believe me, trust your instinct.

Elise: Right. And sometimes you might have we have had people who just take a consultation, talk to one of our attorneys, and then come back in a few months and realize, you know what? I do wanna take a step forward. Or they retain that hour and and they move forward.

James: People want hope. People want hope. You know, most people, when they contact us they don’t all know that they’re absolutely gonna get divorced. Right. Okay. And and and that’s understandable. And, you know, put it this way, I hate my husband. I never wanna be around him again. I want a divorce. I’ve just, I’ve had it. And that person goes home and next thing you know, the husband has flowers and they temporarily fall in love again. Why? Because people don’t want to disrupt. They want that usually. But then as soon as something else happens, it’s like, you know what? So eventually you’re gonna you’re gonna reach your living. So you’re right. So an initial consultation. I tell people go you know go this is what you need to do to protect yourself and go about your life When you’re ready to do it, we’ll do it. If you need to reach me, reach me. We’ll go from there. And you need to take certain steps as far as, protecting in that situation.

Elise: Is there any paperwork or certain information that a potential client needs to present to an attorney in that initial meeting?

James: It depends upon how far we wanna go. If, if a person needs just to be advised, then they’re just advised. There’s not a lot of paperwork. But if we’re taking the next step to move forward, then there’s some paperwork. And it is what it is. You know, there are many ways of skin and cat from a standpoint that, you know, Maryland used to have, and they still do, and other states as well have pendente lite, avicula matrimonia, and thorough limits of divorces. Okay? Meaning that I don’t wanna be around you right now. Okay? I just wanna kinda, like, live my life somewhere else and do what it is. I wanna sign an agreement. I don’t wanna get divorced from you yet. I don’t even wanna think about that, okay? But you go do your thing, I wanna do my thing, and we’ll kinda do what we need to do. So it’s kind of like a separation, but everybody This is not a mill. This is not a mill. Anybody who does something like this just off-handedly is not getting good advice. It can be quick. Now listen, a simple divorce somehow can get you divorced pronto really, really quickly now. Over the last couple of years, most of the old ecclesiastic states, meaning the old religious states, they, they have changed. Now it’s more of a civil ceremony divorce type agreement. There’s still a lot of the old tentacles that has to happen. For example, you know, you know, really people aren’t necessarily worried about, let’s just say adultery as a ground for divorce anymore. You know, it’s more of you know mutual separation, But adultery can play a big part in the distribution of assets. Which is because Maryland’s an equitable state. Under the Maryland Property Act, other states across the country up and down the coast, they vary. And some of them are white males, some are not. So it just depends.

Elise: Right. And we are unique as well in that we offer free consultation. So there’s literally no skin off your back to contact us and at least talk through the process with someone.

James: You know Elise, I I called a lot of hell over the years about that. And, you know, most of my friends and lawyers, I mean, not just in Maryland, but in other states of Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Carolina. Why don’t you charge for your consultations? And most do. While that’s true, I just don’t look at it that way. You know, most of the people that come to me I still have clients coming back to me from thirty-two years ago, And I’m not gonna say we’re best friends. It’s not about that. They do a job. I mean, I do a job and they respect that or what have you. But you know this is a personal service industry. And you know people are in a situation where they need to find out information. If you if you’re gonna retain us, you’re gonna retain us. I’m not worried about that. That’s what gonna happen. But establishing a relationship, is what I try to teach my lawyers because that relationship is gonna last for a while.

Elise: We’re definitely a relationship first firm.

James: No question. No question.

Elise: Absolutely. Well, thank you. I think this is very informative. Well you have access to a lawyer at any time. Just go to James Crawford Law dot com. You can find our chat that you mentioned as well as our phone numbers, Any of our offices, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, or DC?

James: Trust your instinct. Right?

Elise: Absolutely.

James: Okay Thank you.

Elise: Alright. Thank you.