Avoiding Discrimination and Barriers in Family Law

March 21, 2022
Jackie Porter

Article written by Jackie Porter

Are You Facing Barriers to Accessing Legal Care?

There is so much to contend with during a divorce or separation. While you may be trying to do this with as much grace as possible, chaos may be hard to avoid. After all, you are unraveling a relationship, with many components. It won’t be possible to do this on your own. You will need help: including legal, financial, and emotional support. You may have had to deal with micro aggressions and discrimination in the past. With professionals who were supposed to be looking out for your interests, you may feel especially vulnerable now. How will you choose a team of professionals you can trust? Ones who will treat you fairly as they guide you through your divorce journey? Read on for signs of discrimination you should look out for when hiring a professional as well as determining when it’s time to move on.

Does your divorce team respect your boundaries?

Have you given your lawyer specific instructions that are not being followed? Especially after bringing the concerns directly to them? You will need to think seriously about you are being seen and heard by your legal representative. This could be something as simple as how they say you name. Perhaps you correct them on how to pronounce it and yet they still have not tried to say it correctly. Or they make jokes that it’s too complicated or ethnic sounding. If that’s the case, does this reveal a bias they may have toward you? Ask yourself what does it say about a professional that doesn’t think its important to pronounce your name correctly in terms of the attitude they make take with your case? Sometimes you won’t need to read between the lines to know whether you are being treated fairly.

Does your divorce team make assumptions about who you are?

Before you get a chance to tell your story and explain the circumstances leading up to your divorce, you should feel safe to know you are not being judged by your divorce team. Especially given that you will depend heavily on them at such an impactful time in your life. For example: Is your lawyer giving you the space and time needed to tell your story or do you feel rushed? And as you begin to lay out the details of your case are they interrupting and making assumptions about who you are and what happened? Even before you get a chance to finish your train of thought? You may need to consider if this is creating a barrier to you being able to obtain adequate legal care.

Is diversity embraced by your divorce team?

Embracing diversity would look like having diverse group of professionals at the companies your divorce teams represent. This would include a workplace that represents more than one ethnic group or gender, along with having policies in place that speak to treating all of their clients fairly and with respect. You may want to peruse their website to look for pictures of their teams and for materials that point to diversity. When interviewing your divorce team, don’t be afraid to ask if they have anti discrimination policies in place and how they work.

Does your divorce team lead with empathy?

The process of divorce is hard enough without a little tenderness. Kind words of encouragement cost nothing and can be a game changer when the stresses of the divorce feel insurmountable. Consider the number of difficult conversations you will need to have with your lawyer, to ultimately reach a divorce settlement with your ex. Work with a team who will take the time to explain important details about your case with compassion.

Trust your gut

Chances are it has never steered you wrong. If you are dealing with a divorce professional who does not make you feel comfortable, and you can’t put your finger on it, perhaps it’s time to explore your options. You deserve to feel seen and heard. Especially by the divorce professionals you are working with as you navigate a critical time in your life. Shop around for a team of divorce professionals you can trust. This often includes a family lawyer, accountant, therapist and financial professional.

Ask for referrals from trusted contacts to expand your search. Shulman & Partners is proud to identify as a human centric firm where our lawyers and divorce team avoid prejudice and discrimination. Feel free to reach out to us to learn more.