Hint: Be a better client!
Taking control of your divorce process is not the easiest thing to do in the face of all the overwhelm and tumult. If you are hiring an attorney to represent you, you’re going to be spending a lot of time, energy and money to achieve a desirable outcome. For your attorney to be most effective however, it’s important that you give him or her all the tools and opportunities to represent you well.
For starters, make sure you’ve vetted your attorney well before you hire her or him. From here, you want to consider the following:
- Make sure your attorney understands your goals and intentions for your divorce. Don’t assume your attorney knows exactly what you want or what’s good for you and your family.
- If you’re looking for an amicable divorce process, don’t hire an attorney known for devilish tactics and vice versa. Don’t expect a mediator to go for the jugular and fight for you.
- Listen to your attorney! Your attorney is an expert on the law – not your sister, best friend or boss. Every marriage is different and thus, every divorce is different, different laws apply in different circumstances and different locations. Their job is to protect you, help you get a fair settlement and make you look favorable in the eyes of the court if you litigate.
- Check your emotions at the door-or better yet, get a really good therapist or Divorce Coach. Your attorney knows divorce is traumatic. Unfortunately, your emotions can get in the way of clear judgement. They can also convolute the issues. Do your very best to offer the most relevant facts. Spending countless calls and emails hysterically complaining to your attorney, will not get you the best lawyering – it will definitely get you a high legal bill!
- If you’re in a high-conflict situation and your spouse is bullying or intimidating you, do not communicate with your spouse except through your attorney unless it’s an absolutely critical issue like the health and safety of your child. Your attorney has a strategy for your case, if you undermine that strategy by talking directly to your spouse, you will only sabotage yourself.
- Don’t negotiate behind your attorney’s back and expect them to necessarily agree. Sneaky spouses try to get you to agree to things without your attorney present on purpose. If they don’t want you to include your attorney, you can be sure there’s a reason!
- Disclose everything to your attorney that may affect your case. If your attorney finds out in a deposition that you had a business overseas you didn’t mention or worse, finds out in court, it’s going to be a lot harder to fix than if he or she knew before.
- Don’t write anything in an email, text or social media that might come back to haunt you. There’s only so much protection your attorney can offer you if you’re saying you’re too sick or disabled to work and then post a picture of yourself dancing on the beach.
- Don’t violate a court order! Need I say more?