IN A DIVORCE, EMOTIONS RUN HIGH. THE QUESTION THAT YOU HAVE TO ASK YOURSELF IS, “WHAT PATH DO I WANT TO TAKE TO GET TO THE DIVORCE?”
“Do I want to hire an attorney who follows the scorched earth philosophy and takes no prisoners in representing their client? Do I want to hire an attorney who will get a resolution without destroying the family that is already broken?”
These are answers that are unique to each individual. Here are six tips on hiring an attorney who has the same philosophy as you, with respect to the resolution.
1. Hire an Attorney who understands what you need. Do you need an attorney who is available 24/7? Do you need emotional support? Do you just want your lawyer to get the job done and tell you when it’s over? Make sure to express your expectations to your attorney. Get a verbal commitment that your attorney can accommodate your needs.
2. Hire an attorney with whom you would feel comfortable speaking with. It is essential that you do not feel intimidated by your attorney. Ideally, the resolution will be what you want but that will probably not happen if you cannot express your desires with your attorney.
3. Hire an attorney who listens to you. As critical as it is to be able to speak to your attorney, it is equally essential, if not more so, that the attorney is able to listen. When I asked a client why she chose me after speaking to five other attorneys, she told me that I was the only one who asked her, “How can I help you?” The other attorneys whom she met with just told her all about their qualifications.
4. Hire an attorney who is willing to negotiate on your behalf. Once you are able to communicate what you need and you are confident that your attorney has listened, you need to hire someone who can execute. If your attorney cannot execute a negotiation, it is likely that you will end up in a trial.
5. Hire an attorney who understands your goal. It is critical that you and your attorney have a shared vision of the ideal outcome.
6. Hire an attorney that you like. The divorce process is a marathon, not a sprint. Depending on the jurisdiction, the divorce process could take over a year. If you initially meet with a prospective attorney and do not see yourself being able to have a long-term business relationship, do not hire him or her.
If you want the outcome to be that you are divorced but that your children are spared a high-conflict process, then you need to express that and hire accordingly. If you want the outcome to be destruction, then hire someone who will do that.