During your breakup, separation, and divorce, you’re in a vulnerable spot, financially, emotionally, and maybe even physically. Unfortunately, in this day and age, your vulnerability only means one thing to many unscrupulous divorce lawyers: an opportunity. In recent times, there has been a whole cottage industry centered around Your Needs As A Man. Whether it’s to make some money off your troubles, push an agenda, or some other insidious scheme all predicated on being your pal right when you need it. Here are a few things to be wary of:

Divorce Lawyers, especially the ones that advertise. Come on, we’ve all seen it before – billboards, radio ads, TV ads, newspapers, even flyers in the mail. Lawyers typically don’t need to advertise their services. The ones that do are only in it to drum up business. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. It’s the American Way. But there’s one firm I can think of, here in my fair city that’s especially slimy about it, and they’ll go so far (or so I’ve been told) to charge you for the staples they use to bind your documents together.

Mind you, crooked shyster lawyers are just as much a part of the American milieu as cowboys and wagon trains. And one particular law firm is hardly the problem all by itself. But the minute words like “We’re fighting for your rights as a father” start coming out of mouths, research the law firm you’re thinking about hiring. Father’s Rights is a particularly coded way of claiming “We think the law is lopsided in favor of women and by golly we’re going to prove that!”

There is no evidence of this whatsoever. In fact, speaking from experience, my own ex was under the impression that we lived in a “Mother State” and therefore, despite the fact she had given up on the kids, she thought she was going to skate. Haha, well…

Make no mistake: lawyers are absolutely essential in some divorces, especially if a custody battle is in the works. But there are options out there other than the ones who advertise on the back of the phone book. Check your state or country’s legal aid services, for one. Google law firms in your area too, and see what past clients have to say about them. Even better – know a lawyer? You may not get pro bono work out of them, but s/he can at least point you in a better direction.

Long story short – anyone who advertises that they’re there for you, and all men, are only out to get your money which you’re going to need to support your kids, custodial parent or yourself.

Extremists. In recent times, there has been a sharp increase in the rise of men’s extremism. One of the many ways this has manifested has been in the so-called “Men’s Rights Movement.” On the surface, the MRM says they are just looking out for men in this world, much like Father’s Rights proponents, trampled as they are by the law and society more inclined to side with the biological mother and women in general.

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong in this world with finding like-minded persons in similar situations as yourself to socialize with and get into support group situations with. However, outward misogyny or any concerted efforts to antagonize your ex using Your Rights and Your Kids as sticking points is not time well spent.

Men’s support groups are fine. Most men’s support groups worth their salt don’t encourage internet harassment campaigns against women who have an opinion that differ from yours. If you feel like you need to be amongst “your own people,” I would suggest looking into groups that foster a positive message of some kind, religious or otherwise, which best suits your emotional needs. There are groups that focus on men, not as a method of extracting revenge against your ex or fostering other agendas, but to better yourself, to take stock of what your failures are or might have been, take responsibility for what may have happened with your ex and your children, and to improve on them, for yourself and your relationships, present and future.

Again, nothing wrong with that at all! Everybody on this Earth has room for improvements in their lives. Just don’t let that be a springboard for other, less scrupulous opportunists to further their potentially harmful agenda.

These are but two examples of what to watch out for. The moral of the story, however, is this: don’t let your personal pain and hardships become an open door for predators. There are people in this world who actively seek out men who are going through divorce, especially when kids are involved. And not for good reasons, either. Anyone who says they’re your friend when they’re trying to sign you up for something? Typically isn’t. Be smarter, do your research, and watch your own back. The consequences of being the next mark can last a lifetime.

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