Divorce is rarely an easy thing.
Even if both parties agree that the marriage should be over and are otherwise amicable, dividing up assets can be a long and drawn out process.
If there is any sort of animosity between the people splitting, things get even more complicated. Hiring a lawyer with a grudge against your ex may seem like a great idea, but is it?
Reddit user SnapVolume took to "Am I The A**hole" (AITA) for some advice about whether to hire an attorney who has a really good reason not to like her ex.
She asked Redditors:
The story is a bit more complicated than it seems at first glance, based on SnapVolume's question. She helpfully provided the back story in her post.
"I'm in the process of hiring a new divorce lawyer (old one had to step down in the beginning stages due to a personal emergency and I didn't feel comfortable with anyone else from that firm.)"
Her ex has the hookup for a great lawyer, and she has just found herself without one.
"My husband's brother is a high powered lawyer (not a divorce lawyer, but very well connected) who is definitely hooking him up to someone excellent."
Money is definitely a concern for SnapVolume, but she still wants good representation in the divorce proceedings.
"Excellent is not in my price range. But I was thumbing through names and one stood out as familiar. Long story short, it's a woman my husband had a major falling out with in undergrad."
This could be promising.
"Skipping unnecessary specifics, this girl's father was a professor at the university and my ex did something that nearly lost him his job, she accused my ex of having done this thing, he said he was in the right to have done it."
Despite his carefully maintained innocence in the situation, he later revealed that he knew he was at fault.
"He confessed to me later in our relationship that he was in the wrong and he knew it."
"Unsurprisingly, this woman has really hated him her whole life. I was first told this story as an explanation for why we rushed out of his class reunion."
She definitely has motivation to fight for SnapVolume's benefit as hard as she can.
"So when I realized she's working as a divorce lawyer, and a well rated one, I reached out. She made clear in no uncertain terms that she would bury him and her deal was much more reasonable than anyone else's offers (even though she'd usually be way out of my price range.)"
SnapVolume is wavering on the decision because she thinks her ex has been fair in the divorce so far, and she's worried it would be an a-hole move to hire a lawyer who doesn't like him.
"But my ex has really played fair in all this so far. It's not underhanded of him to hire the best lawyer he can afford, and so far he's been totally reasonable and transparent in all our dealings."
"At first I thought this was the best idea ever, but the more I think about it, the more I worry I'd be an asshole to pull a move like this, especially basing it on information he told me in confidence when we were married. Would I be?"
Redditors determine that she would not, in fact, be in the wrong to hire the lawyer, but many cautioned her to be sure the lawyer can actually be impartial.
"NAH. Yet. You cannot afford her. She is giving you a discounted rate due to personal animus. She is literally the best lawyer your money can buy. If you do not begrudge your ex this, why would you deny yourself?"
"If you hire her, you might need to rein her in. She wants him to bleed. How far you let her run with that, in what sounds like a fairly amicable separation, could change your AH status."
"Of course, if she is worth her paycheck, she will walk into this as a professional who is 100% on YOUR side. Can you take her advice given their history? Or will you let your husbands great lawyer gut you?" -4games1
"Yeah, just because she has a grudge doesn't mean she will act unprofessionally or unethically." -velocibadgery
"Call me crazy, but if she's half as good a lawyer as she's supposed to be I can't imagine that she won't do everything as diligently and by the book as possible. If she's going for long game revenge then she's far more likely to get it if she does everything completely legit." -TheJujyfruiter
"I just went through my own divorce and my lawyer was awesome, I was lucky that I hired him before my ex did. The reason I like him so much is that he had my best interests in mind, not his. He fought for what was best for me, and not to prove a point. I'm not saying she wouldn't do a good job, but you should ask yourself who she's really fighting for." -NanaStone
Others warned that her ex may see hiring this particular lawyer as a challenge and any hope of settling things amicably may be lost.
"NTA. There is nothing unethical here. This woman would be YOUR lawyer, not his. There is no conflict of interest. And this is a civil dispute: nothing personal, just business. No one will fault you for wanting to get a good deal."
"HOWEVER, you need to know that when your ex realizes what you have done he will stop pulling his punches and likely get testy. You MUST NOT reveal the identity of your lawyer until the last moment. Hell, I would even have someone else in her firm handle the negotiations while she does the dirty work, so to speak." -Vande_Kamp
"NAH but I think it may end up biting you in the ass. When he finds out who your new attorney is you can expect reasonable and transparent to be off the table and it will become a nasty, bitter fight. Whatever you end up getting out of it will probably not be worth the mental cost to both of you." -vodka_philosophy
Still others questioned whether her ex was actually being reasonable at all, or if he just hadn't started to be actively harmful yet.
"NTA. Go with the best lawyer you can afford. No matter how you feel right now, things could change in a moment. How do you say he's being 'reasonable'? Have you split assets yet? Have you gone over retirement assets? Have you sold the house and split the proceeds? Do you have cars and car loans and know how you will split them up? If not, you have no idea what may come up to F you over. Go with her to make sure that you don't get a lawyer that just rolls over and tells you to take it to just get it settled." -pittsburgpam
"NTA. She just happens to be a good lawyer with extra incentive to do a good job for you. Who knows, maybe his high powered attorney will sleepwalk through the divorce because they're more interested in their reputation rather than their client's interests. Go with her. If he were being nice he wouldn't have hired a high powered attorney to screw you over in the divorce. Your main concern should be protecting your interests not how he might feel." -crazyunclealfie
Some claimed that it would be a legal conflict of interest for the attorney to represent her, because of the grudge against her ex, but others explained that's not quite how conflicts of interest work.
In the end, the decision ultimately lies with SnapVolume. This lawyer could be a powerful ally in the divorce proceedings, or she could potentially make things worse. A solid conversation about motivations and professionalism would seem to be in order.