Role of a Divorce Lawyer
We all begin a divorce with the assumption that we need an attorney, but rarely do we step back and consider the actual day-to-day role of the lawyer in the divorce process and how to effectively manage that role.
In virtually every single divorce, it is essential to obtain legal advice to understand how Family Law in your state applies to your case.
It may be that you spend an hour or more consulting with a lawyer to obtain high level legal advice based on the facts in your case. In this situation you would pay them an hourly rate for their guidance. Often this is referred to as a “consultative attorney.”
It may be that your case goes through Mediation and you continue to pay an attorney an hourly rate, as needed, for advice throughout the process, and often to draft and/or review the final settlement agreement.
Or, it may be that you pay a retainer (some fixed amount of money) for the lawyer to officially represent you in the divorce matter while working with your spouse's attorney, while in mediation, while in the Collaborative process, or in court.
In any of these situations, legal advice is very important, but now you have hired a professional, so you have a responsibility to manage the process for optimal and cost-efficient results.
Factors in Choosing a Lawyer
Divorce lawyers are all very different; it is important to find the one that is best for YOUR case. Just because your neighbor liked their attorney doesn’t mean he/she is the right one for you.
Some lawyers have a particular strength or skill set with complicated financial matters, or custody matters or unique business issues, so if your case has a specific set of issues, look for lawyers who have expertise in those areas.
Many spouses operate from a place of fear and assume that a “shark” is what they need to be protected, but in most cases that is unnecessary and only a great way to spend all of your family’s money! Having collaborative skills does not mean a lawyer will not advocate for you. It simply means that they have an ability to work with your spouse’s attorney to attain a solution first while leaving a more adverse or litigious (and expensive and time-consuming path) as a last resort.
There will be four key players in this process: you, your lawyer, your spouse, and your spouse’s lawyer. The relationship between the two attorneys is equally as important. If your spouse hires first, be certain to hire someone who has a track record of working well with that attorney. Conflict between the lawyers will only increase the conflict in your own case.
Strategies for Consulting with an Attorney
Interview more than one attorney to compare philosophies for solving your case, explore various creative ideas, and to check chemistry.
Bring someone with you to help you assess the conversation. Discussing your case with a lawyer can be upsetting and difficult, so it can be helpful to have someone else there to listen and help you make the right decision. (Your lawyer may object to a third party being involved in the conversation as this can, in certain situations, affect the attorney-client privilege, but simply ask that they educate you on your options around that, as there are many.)
Manage your expectations. You are not hiring a therapist, a best friend, or a psychic who can predict the outcome. You are hiring a legal professional who is trained in the procedure of law and has experience in your county with the lawyers, mediators and judges who might be involved in the process.
Conflicting out Attorneys
What does this mean?
When a spouse consults with a lawyer and discusses the facts in their case, they have effectively prohibited that lawyer from ever meeting or representing the other spouse. Often a spouse will consult with many lawyers in town to prevent their spouse from being represented.
When is it a good idea?
While we do believe that meeting with more than one lawyer is helpful to identify fit, we would never recommend the aggressive strategy of “conflicting out” every lawyer in town. We know cases where a spouse literally cannot find a lawyer to represent them because of this practice, and since we firmly believe in a family participating in the process to efficiently address the divorce process, we do not believe that any tactics to prolong, add expense, or add stress is ever a good idea.
Be a Good Client
This may sound crazy, after all you are the one going through a difficult life transition, and you are the one paying a lawyer to help you, so it is up to them to do a good job, not you. But, what we have learned is that the more informed, organized and involved the client, the better and more cost-efficient the process. If you provide your professional with everything they need in a timely manner, and if you take the time to become informed and understand the process, then the case is less likely to drag on and the lawyer more likely to be able to execute effectively and efficiently.
Preparing for the Legal Consult: Very Important!
If you read nothing else, please read this! The most important thing to remember is that it is the facts in your case that for the most part, will dictate the outcome. It is impossible for a lawyer to give you any legal advice on your “story” without the core financial and parenting facts.
We believe in spending valuable resources on legal help when necessary, but we do not believe in wasting time and money, so we have developed the dtour.life Case Profile for you to complete prior to your family law professional consult. This will assist you in compiling all of the essential facts so that a professional can give you informed advice and insight from the first minute. And, it will then provide the professional with all of the key data for the life of the case. (After you have signed up, you will be led through a simple and easy Q&A that will result in a Case Profile that you can then share or print for your initial consultation.)
Where do you find lawyers?
The best place to find a lawyer is:
There are a variety of legal industry search engines that will provide you with a list of names.
American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers
2. Friends and family can be a good source for a referral, though do be sure to interview and assess if they are the right fit for you and the unique needs of your case.
3. Recommendations from therapists and/or other types of attorneys you may know.
The materials available at this web site are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of, and access to, this Web site or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between Dtour, Inc., dtour.life or any affiliate of Dtour, Inc. and the user or browser. Any opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of Dtour, Inc. or dtour.life.