Interviewer: What would you say are the common misconceptions people have about the divorce process?
Danielle Hawkes: Oh, I think a big misconception about divorce is that people come in and their heart is broken and they’re completely in one of the worst moments of their lives and they want vindication. They want 100% vindication and they come in wanting an attorney who is going to win. Really, there is no winner in divorce and custody matters. There is, however, a solution at the end of a tunnel and they need an attorney who will be able to find that solution. That solution sometimes means compromising with the other side, especially when it comes to visitation of children and things like that. They need an attorney who knows when to push for a win and when to compromise; those are two very different things.
There are attorneys who compromise on everything and then there are attorneys who push for the win on everything, and it’s just simply not dynamic enough. Divorce is an extremely dynamic area of the law. You need attorneys who can play all sides of the field.
Interviewer: What mistakes do you see people make that hurt their ability to have a good outcome in their case?
Danielle Hawkes: I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is that they sign documents when they are upset and they are really hurt and they feel really disempowered. They sign documents because they think they have to. We’re talking about documents that affect all of the property that they own or it affects their children for 18 years. They have this huge major impact and people simply need to take it slower before signing things.
Interviewer: Who will push someone to sign something – the spouse?
Danielle Hawkes: Yeah, definitely. We see it a lot of times when the spouse has an attorney and they say, “Here are some very fair documents,” and they might be fair but they’re very complicated documents. There are 20-some issues that need to be addressed in every divorce and custody matter, and each one of those issues needs to be dealt with properly and thoroughly. Some of these documents don’t even deal with this issue at all and five years down the line they find themselves re-mitigating the divorce over one or two issues that weren’t even addressed in the initial divorce.