As your marital relationship comes to an end, your relationship with your divorce attorney is just beginning. Clients often become very attached to their divorce attorney, relying on them not only for legal advice, but also as someone that they can talk to about the difficult non-legal aspects of divorce. How you and your attorney communicate will also have an impact on your case outcome. Here are some tips for saving time and money working with your lawyer to get the best possible result from your divorce.
A few basic things your divorce attorney will need to know is statistical information about your marriage, for example length of marriage, number of minor children, as well as assets and liabilities accrued before, during and after the marriage. It is best to respond quickly to your attorney when documentation of these items are requested, and to be as precise as you can.
Your attorney will also want to know from the start why you are getting a divorce, and legal documents already in place, and most importantly, your goals for the divorce. It is important to be very specific about your goals for divorce, taking yours and your children’s futures into consideration.
The ideal client is calm, organized and well-prepared. If you have an issue with the advice that is being offered to you, then voice that opinion. But, it is important to not let your emotions get in the way, and to be very clear and upfront with your attorney from the start. If you feel that you are struggling with your emotions from the divorce, it’s best to hire a counselor or mental health professional who is better-equipped to take on those issues. Remember, your lawyer went to law school, and while he or she might be trained to handle highly emotional situations, they are not trained to handle the deeper thoughts and feelings that come with a break up or separation.
Your attorney will also expect nothing but the truth from you. This is very important in preparing an honest and efficient case on your behalf. Chances are any information you attempt to hide from your attorney will eventually come out from the other side. Worst case scenario is it will come out in front of a judge before your attorney has time to prepare for it. This is why it’s so imperative to be honest and upfront with your attorney, even if it may be embarrassing. Remember, your attorney and you have attorney-client confidentiality privileges.
Last, your attorney will advise you about your case while being as realistic and reasonable as possible, and expects you to act the same. Sometimes the facts and law are just not 100% on your side, but this does not mean your attorney won’t fight as hard as he or she can to get you the best outcome. If you are set on an outcome that is not reasonable or possible, then you will be easily disappointed in the end.
At the beginning of any representation, your attorney should present you with a clear and understandable retainer agreement. This will detail the terms of your relationship and any retainer deposit that is required before representation can being. The retainer agreement should also spell out the scope of the attorney’s services, which can be either very specific or pretty broad. This agreement will also outline your fees and billing process.
In communicating with you, your attorney has a duty to be as clear and understandable as possible, and to reply to any inquiries within a reasonable amount of time. Often, your attorney may discuss something on the phone with you and then put that conversation in writing via email or a letter. This is a common practice for an attorney to keep track of case strategy and make sure the client has all records of agreements in writing.
Also understand that your attorney may change strategies during the case and more facts emerge. In doing so, the attorney should always explain to you all your options, and when he or she recommends one strategy over another. Your lawyer should always consult with your before taking any major actions on your behalf.
If you’d like to know more about the process for hiring a divorce lawyer, call Cage & Miles, LLP to set up a free 30-minute consultation with one of our Efficient Effective Experienced attorneys.