5 Things To Do After You’ve Hired a Divorce Attorney:
Be a Co-Pilot with your attorney. The relationship with your attorney is like every other partnership in your life, and if the two of you don’t work together it will end up like every other failed marriage, relationship, or Tango. Your attorney is not in charge, but neither are you. In order for your attorney to his or her job, you must do yours. What is your job?
- Tell your lawyer the truth. Trust me, he or she has heard it all and your story will be no more shocking, outrageous and troublesome than the one from last week. If your attorney knows the truth then he or she can formulate a strategy to deal with the problem effectively and efficiently. This will both save you a lot of embarrassment. By the same token, demand and expect that your attorney tell you the truth and not what you want to hear. I have had my share of clients say to me, “whose side are you on?!” and as always, my answer is the same, “Yours! That being said, I am here to tell you the truth, not what you want to hear. If you want to pay good money to hear what you want, I am sure there are a dozen attorneys waiting to do so.”
- Write up your “Top Ten” things that you want your attorney to know. This is a list of the ten things that are important to YOU. These things may not be important to the attorney or the case, but things that are important to you. It will give your attorney a sense of who you are and what you need. In turn, the attorney can tell you what things or expectations he or she can or can’t do or meet.
- Be efficient in your communication. In most cases you are being billed by the hour which translates into very expensive minutes. Many clients are upset that they are being charged for “phone calls” but the reality is that the attorney’s advice (hence his/her time and words), whether in person or on the phone, in the office or in court, is exactly what you are paying for. That being said, when you do call, have a clear purpose for the call and keep the call limited to the issue at hand. Even better, if your attorney allows it, use email. Email is a great way to gather your thoughts and write out questions. Don’t use email to go on and on about issues or to ask complicated legal questions that are beyond what can be done in an email and may require a meeting. Your attorney can probably get back to you quicker by email than by phone.
- Do what you are asked to do. If your attorney needs a document get it to him/her as soon as you can. If your attorney asks you to have a meeting, make every effort to be there. If he asks you to make an accommodation for your soon to be former spouse (that’s reasonable), do it. I am not suggesting you blindly follow advice. Always ask a question when you have one, but there is always a very good reason for your attorney to ask you to do something.
- Trust your attorney until you cannot. I never thought that I would write on the internet because I felt that there was just too much bad information floating out there that only served to confuse and upset the client. It was bad enough when a client would start a sentence like “my neighbor’s husband only had to…” or “my friend told me that…” and now I hear about all this “stuff” on the internet. Information is great but keep in mind that just like no two fingerprints are alike, neither is any divorce. If your attorney does not answer your questions or answers them in a way that just doesn’t make sense, then get a second opinion- a professional second opinion.