- Indiana, 1996
- S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, 1996
- Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis 1996
- Indiana University/Purdue University, Indianapolis 1978
Professional Associations and Memberships
- Indiana State Bar Association (ISBA)
- Indianapolis Bar Association (IBA)
- Hamilton County Bar Association (HCBA)
- Association of Family and Conciliation Court (AFCC)
- Central Indiana Association of Collaborative Professionals (CIACP)
My name is Carol Romine and I can vouch from personal experience that 1) divorce does not have to be awful and 2) the degree of “awfulness” will most likely be determined, not by your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, but by the kind of lawyer you hire. Your friends and relatives may advise you to hire a real “shark” because your spouse is certainly going to hire one. Unfortunately, that may be the worst advice you could receive. A “shark” is defined as a predatory fish that eats smaller fish and is sometimes dangerous to human beings. An attorney who is known as a “shark” will definitely be dangerous to human beings and most especially dangerous to the pocketbooks, spouses, and children of human beings. While you may, indeed, need an attorney with litigation experience, your pending divorce will be the worst kind of “awfulness” if you hire a shark.
For the vast majority of divorces, there is virtually no reason to go down the adversarial path of litigation (going to court). Yet almost every advertisement you see for divorce lawyers talks about his or her “aggressive” representation – not necessarily a good thing. The worst example of this kind of ad is one I saw recently on the side of a bus: “Hire us before your spouse does!”
Like most new attorneys, I spent my early years honing my skills in the court room. After all, we aren’t taught how to collaborate or cooperate or negotiate in law school! We are taught rules of evidence and trial procedure. Worse yet, like many attorneys, I discovered that litigation is not only very lucrative – it can become addictive. You spend hours in preparation, you know all the case law relevant to your case, you are convinced your client is right on all issues, you put on your best suit, your adrenaline is racing, and you put on a great show (it really is a lot like what you see on TV). Your client is in awe of your talents and so are you!
I always left the courtroom feeling certain my client would get everything I argued for even though I had argued the exact opposite position with equal skill and passion in a prior case. I’m pretty sure opposing counsel felt the same way. And more often than not, each party won a little of this and a little of that – just enough that both attorneys felt vindicated and the clients were broke but satisfied. Over time, I came to realize that there was rarely a “bad guy” in a divorce hearing and that judges almost always crafted an order that gave each party some wins and some losses. I came to believe there HAD to be a better and less expensive way to get to a middle point between what two people wanted.
I had always “tried” to settle my cases before preparing for trial. But I realized many years ago that I wasn’t trying hard enough. The turning point came when I tried a case against an ex-husband who was a real jerk and who was represented by a shark. The lawyer refused to negotiate. So – I got ready for trial. I was ready and I was on a roll. I knew exactly what questions to ask that would cause this guy to exhibit his “jerkiness.’ And he did – over and over again. The judge was so angry at this guy that he rendered his decision right then and there – rarely done in a complicated case. And my client won on every single issue. I can’t recall a trial I enjoyed more! On that day, though, I was the only happy person in the room. My client burst into tears! She said between sobs “I never dreamed I would have to say these things about my children’s father in a public forum. I would never have brought this case if I had known it would be like this.” Lesson to be learned – your attorney may be the only person who benefits from litigation.
I never “tried” to settle a case again. I “determined” to settle my cases and it made all the difference. It was a mind-set on my part and I rarely have to try cases now. Instead, I have become an expert at helping clients determine what’s really important for their family and then helping the parties find their common interests (which is always the children). I sometimes do that through formal or informal collaboration with the other party and/or the other attorney and I sometimes do it by mediating with two parties who may or may not have attorneys. While I miss the adrenaline rush and personal satisfaction of litigation, I’ll happily settle for the contentment that comes with helping people find a better way.
I have written this website in the hopes that a little information about divorce might help you select the right kind of attorney. There are some cases that really do require litigation (such as when physical abuse is present or when one party has been diagnosed with a personality disorder). The majority of divorces occur between perfectly normal, kind, and loving parents who can and WILL put their children’s needs above their own. These folks need to know enough about the law to ask the right questions when interviewing attorneys. Unlike lawsuits between strangers, divorcing parents will have a relationship after the dispute is over for as long as they have children or grandchildren together! The quality of that relationship will be determined by the quality of representation they receive during a divorce or other family dispute. Most of all, these folks need an attorney or mediator who will help them divorce with dignity.
I believe I am that mediator.
I wish you the best.