January 24, 2013

Helping People During Divorce

I love my work as a Portland divorce and custody lawyer. I get funny looks saying this sometimes, but it’s true. The reason I chose this challenging work is a basic desire to help people. One of the biggest satisfactions I get is really helping people who are at a disadvantage in court. Most divorce cases settle within the range of what is fair. Most people take good advice from good lawyers. However, some people misuse the court system to try to increase costs, make the case unpleasant and difficult for everyone involved, and pressure the opponent into an unfair settlement.

Last year I represented a client who was in a much worse financial position than his spouse. He had limited access to money, and was kicked out of the home he had lived in for years. The other party was difficult, obstructionist, intentionally increased his legal costs, took positions not supported by Oregon divorce law, filed false criminal and civil charges against my client in an effort to get him to “go away” and settle for nothing, and at least doubled what my client’s bill should have been. Her hope was that his resources would be exhausted, his lawyer would quit, and he would give up and go away with an unfair result. We gave his wife multiple chances to settle for what was fair, all of which were rejected.

The case should have settled, but the other party’s position made it impossible to settle. I took the case before the judge standing by my client’s side.  I exceeded his goals, and far exceeded what he would have received had he taken one of his’ ex’s “offers.” I had a lot of personal satisfaction in helping him persevere and getting a good result from the court.

This week, the trial court let us know that the other party had to pay $25,000 of my client’s legal bill because of her conduct during the case. It’s money he shouldn’t have had to spend, and I am happy to be a part of leveling the playing field for my client, and putting him in a better financial position. I feel fortunate to be in a position to help people like him persevere, not give up, get a good result, and get vindication at the end for the other side’s bad behavior. Cases like this are one of the reasons I love what I do.

By Sean Stephens