Almost all of my clients have what I call a "committee" -- a collection of well-meaning friends, relatives, neighbors, etc., all of whom want to offer divorce advice. It is not unusual for me to spend hours with a client (at $600 per hour) carefully outlining his/her options, answering their questions, and recommending a carefully thought-out course of action based on 24 years of experience, only to have them call me the following day to say, "my cousin Fred/my college roommate Sue/another mother at my kids' school/a guy I see at the gym got divorced last year and THEY think . . ." Aaaagghh!! My invariable response -- delivered in as innocent and deadpan a manner as I can muster -- is: "Oh, is he/she a divorce lawyer in New York? No? A divorce lawyer ANYwhere? No? Well, how about a lawyer of ANY kind? No? Uh-huh . . . so, um, why would I -- or you -- be interested in their legal opinion on this issue?" Sigh.
Seriously, just because Sue/Fred/the other mom at school/the guy at the gym got divorced doesn't mean that their respective experiences in the court system have any relevance to yours. It's not that you shouldn't seek emotional and social support from your "committee" -- by all means, avail yourself of their friendship -- but take any legal advice they start dishing out with a grain of salt.
There is another stock character in many divorce scenarios, a character that one of my former partners termed a "coat holder." The "coat holder" is typically another professional -- the client's shrink, or stockbroker, or accountant. That professional riles the client up by proffering gung-ho advice along the lines of "you need to say blahblahblah, and you tell your lawyer that he/she needs to go into court and take the offensive and tell the judge blahblahblah." Typically, the client has not really told this other professional the full story, so the cheerleading-type advice they give out so readily is usually based upon a false premise. And keep in mind that often times the only legal knowledge these other professionals have is derived from a devoted viewing of Law & Order. But why did my partner refer to them as "coat holders?" It's because he likened them to a situation where you're in a bar with a friend, and a Hell's Angel sitting a few barstools away is drunk and belligerent and tossing around insults. Your friend then urges you to punch the guy even though the odds are you'll end up beaten to a pulp: "You shouldn't put up with that! Go on, you can take him! Teach him a lesson! I'll hold your coat." LOL! The point is, these mis-informed professionals are all keen to urge the clients to an aggressive, rash course of action without having any appreciation for the risks involved, and without bearing any responsibility for the consequences that flow therefrom. I usually tell my client in these situations: "Tell Dr. Smith/your broker/your accountant that I won't perform psychotherapy/sell securities/prepare tax returns, if he/she stops trying to practice law."