Often in our practice we see or hear of clients who are seeking an attorney of a specific gender when it's time to divorce. Frequently, the client feels that having a male or female attorney will somehow help their case. Women who feel they've been taken advantage of in their marriage might believe that a male attorney will be more aggressive and fight harder for them. Some men seem to think that having a female attorney will make them appear more sympathetic, especially regarding custody and parenting time issues.
Does it really matter to the outcome of your case whether you have a male or female attorney? Should you stick with an attorney of your own sex, on the theory that they'll better understand what you're going through, or seek an attorney of the opposite sex, on the theory that they'll bring something to the case that you don't?
Those people who think having a divorce attorney of a certain sex will help their case are often disappointed. Remember, divorce cases are not heard before a jury, so the sex of your attorney won't make an impression on a group of your peers to rule a certain way.
Those divorce cases that go to trial are heard by a judge. I can assure you that while your attorney may make a difference to the judge, your attorney's gender will not! Attorneys with much divorce experience in local courts are almost certainly known to the judges there. The judges, to the extent they care who your attorney is, will be concerned with the attorney's professionalism, ethics, and preparation—not gender.
That said, remember that very few divorce cases—possibly less than five percent—even go to trial at all. Most divorce cases are settled. Does the gender of your attorney matter to the success of settlement negotiations? If you rely on gender stereotypes, you might think that a male attorney won't back down and will get you what you want, or that a female attorney will be a better communicator and come up with more creative options for resolution. In some cases you might be right, but in reality, what matters more is the personality and experience of the attorney, not their sex.
The sex of your attorney may not matter to a judge, nor affect their skill in helping you reach settlement. That said, you may feel more comfortable working with an attorney of one sex or the other, and that's perfectly fine. Choosing a divorce attorney is a very personal decision. Your attorney is your guide through a stressful journey, and your comfort with the working relationship is essential. At at time when your world seems to be turning upside down, you need someone you can trust.
Beyond personal comfort with your attorney, remember other factors that will be important to the success of your case: your attorney's experience, especially with divorce cases and cases like yours; your attorney's professional ethics; your attorney's reputation with other attorneys and the courts.
You should feel free to speak to a few divorce attorneys before making a decision about who will work well with you. We invite you to contact Mundahl Law for a consultation, so that we can discuss your needs and goals, and the best options for meeting them.