So how exactly do you hire the ‘right’ lawyer? It is kind of like finding Mr. or Mrs. Right. Some time and effort needs to be put into the search!
As a divorce coach, clients often report that when faced with a separation and divorce, they immediately rush out and quickly hire a lawyer without much forethought. Hiring the wrong lawyer can be a costly mistake that can impact the entire process of separation and divorce from start to finish.
If you want to be in charge of your life during the business of divorce, you have to take charge and know that you and your ex-partner are the ultimate decision makers. Hiring professionals that align with your values and agree with your goals is very important.
You are hiring a lawyer to do some work for you. You need to decide what is important to you. Then you need to research some lawyers and ask around for recommendations. Then you need to interview at least three lawyers to find someone who is a good fit for you. Then, and only then, you put down your hard earned money and start the legal part of your separation and divorce.
Setting up interviews with three lawyers may seem like big investment of your valuable time, but if your case gets complicated, it will pay dividends. Hiring multiple lawyers in rapid succession is a much larger waste of your time and money. Yes, I know, early in a separation lots of things are already competing for both your time and money, but this investment of your time at the start of your divorce is well worth it.
What do you need to ask and find out? The following questions may be useful to ask:
- How long have they been practicing family law?
- What percentage of their practice is family law?
- Do they practice collaborative law?
- Are they willing to go to court, on your behalf, if they need to?
- What are the fees and how are they calculated?
- How much does it cost for their average divorce and how long does it usually take?
- What is the best way to reach them in an emergency?
- What are the costs and turnaround times for phone calls, email and appointments? Clarify before you get an unexpected costly invoice!
- What can you do to minimize your legal costs?
- How can either party terminate a client/attorney relationship that is not working well?
- Do they personally do all the work or do they work as part of a legal team?
- Your lawyer is not your therapist. Lawyers often charge by the hour, so give them a short honest outline of your situation, not the long emotional version.
- Be honest! If you tell the lawyer the sugarcoated version of your situation you will not get advice for the true situation. You will get the sugarcoated advice, which will not be as useful as honest feedback and basic advice.
- To minimize your legal fees, give the lawyers the documents they ask for when they ask for them. Making them get access to them may dramatically add to your costs.
- Being reasonable and fair goes a long way in getting a reasonable and fair separation agreement and divorce. Most lawyers prefer not to clean up after bad behaviour.
- Once the legal business of divorce is initiated, it usually makes communication with your ex-partner more difficult, not better, so try and maintain good communication if it exists. This is especially important if you have children and are co-parenting. If you can continue to talk together instead of having the lawyers start sending letters back and forth things may stay more civil.
- You also need to remember you get to make the decisions. The lawyer gives legal advice and suggests how to proceed, but you and your ex together are the decision makers. It is best to keep your family decisions between you. If you go to court, a judge will be making the decisions. You and your ex-spouse will give up any control over the decisions made that will affect your family and life for years to come.
- Is it actually time to hire a lawyer? I usually suggest other qualified divorce professionals talk with you before you hire a lawyer to get things organized and analyzed to take to the lawyer. This is especially true if you are still in the early stages and can go with your ex-partner together for an overview of your situation as a couple entering the divorce process if you are still getting along reasonably well.
Having trouble managing your separation and divorce? I can help.
Please contact me.
I do offer a free strategy session.
The Divorce Coach in Dundas
Image © designer491 / depositphotos