Client Gender Differences in Divorce Law
Interviewer: For today, we’re going to talk about family law. You said that you handle mostly men’s cases. That’s very surprising. Have you found that, men to want a male lawyer? Or do they think that a female lawyer would be better for them when they’re facing a divorce?
Anitha Johnson: I think so. [Female lawyers appear to be more willing to go up against another female and not feel sorry for the female opposing side and they just understand the tricks and antics that they try to employ.] Usually my male custody clients are really good guys. Anytime a guy is fighting for custody it shows what kind of person he is. Many guys are happy with just every other weekend or one or two days a month, but typically when the guy’s actually fighting for custody, it says a lot about the guy right away.
Interviewer: That’s true. How do you see that men and women view divorce differently, if at all?
Anitha Johnson: I have clients who are not like this, but many women seem like they want to prove something and they want to punish the guy. They want to show the guy this and that. But for men, it seems like they just want the quickest way to get out without spending a lot of money and without fighting and going back and forth. They just want out of the marriage.
Misconceptions: Dual Consent
Interviewer: Right. When people come to you for a divorce, what are some of the top misconceptions they have about the process? Movies paint a different picture than what it is in reality. So do what do people probably have misconceptions about?
Anitha Johnson: Actually I was just talking about this to someone. I think one of the biggest things that people ask is, “What if the person doesn’t sign?” Here in Maryland and DC, there is no paperwork that you have to sign for the opposing side. When they’re getting divorced, all you do is you send in a complaint and if they don’t answer, you get a divorce. You do get a hearing by default, so the other side can’t hold off the divorce by not signing any paperwork to pass in court.
Interviewer: Okay. Yes. What if one side says I’m not signing anything? Can it still go forward?
Anitha Johnson: Yes. As long as you have the ground, you can go forward. I see that in movies all the time, where they say, “Can you sign? Can you sign?” And then divorces can go on for years because the other side is refusing to sign. I don’t understand that because here, if you have the grounds (as in, you’ve been separated for the requisite time or whatever your ground is), if the other side doesn’t respond, you’re entitled to a divorce because otherwise, it wouldn’t make sense. It would mean that you have to stay married unless the other side agrees.