Hiring a divorce attorney takes careful work. I should know, I had three divorce attorneys. The first cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars due to incompetence and legal malpractice. The second called one afternoon after office hours and told me if I, “ever got horny” to give him a call. Not exactly the service I had paid for!
The third was a sweet woman but unorganized with massive personal problems of her own. I did most of the legwork and paperwork during her representation of me. I have to give her credit for showing up for court dates, after I had called and reminded her.
Needless to say, due to the incompetent and unethical behavior of divorce attorneys, the divorce process did not progress in the way I had hoped. There is nothing worse than dealing with the emotional devastation of divorce while, at the same time the frustration of poor legal representation.
The first step most make once deciding to divorce is hiring a divorce attorney. The first mistake most make once deciding to divorce is putting too much faith in a divorce attorney. It is only natural to expect a divorce attorney to take care of you legally and financially. The problem is, like all of us, divorce attorneys are imperfect human beings and due to that you aren’t always going to have your expectations met.
What should you expect when hiring a divorce attorney?
1. Regular Communication. There is no excuse for an attorney to put off communicating with his/her client within 24 hours of a request. Responsiveness is crucial. More complaints are lodged against attorneys with disciplinary boards for not returning phone calls than any other reason.
2. Full Disclosure. Your attorney should be willing to discuss in full with you what is happening in your case and what they expect to happen in the future. A good divorce attorney will suggest strategies for your case; explain the discovery process, negotiation on your behalf, and have your back should you go to divorce court.
3. Due Process. The Fourteenth Amendment provides standards for fair treatment of citizens by federal, state and local governments this is called “due process.” It is your divorce attorney’s responsibility to make sure you are treated fairly by the court during your divorce.
4. Notification. You should be made aware of every communication with the opposing counsel and every document filed with the courts. You have a right to be a party to every decision made concerning your case. It is, after all, your life!
5. Availability. Appointments with your divorce attorney are an opportunity for you to gauge where you are in the divorce process and the direction your case is heading. If you have a divorce attorney who cancels or rushes you through appointments, you have a bad divorce attorney.
6. Basic Courtesy and Civility. Divorce attorneys are in business to make money. Some have a tendency though to view divorcing clients as overly emotional pains in the ass. I have friends who are divorce attorneys and believe me; they enjoy the money but don’t care for the clients. Make sure your attorney pays you the respect you are paying him/her for.
Divorce is a billion dollar industry. Without a good divorce attorney you will end up feeding the divorce machine. It thrives on emotionally fragile, naive people who need an advocate. Your task is to find a divorce attorney who will advocate for and promote your best interest. There is an old Spanish proverb that says, “Fools and obstinate men make rich lawyers.” When it comes to hiring a divorce attorney it pays you not to be foolish.