Your divorce requires you to make some of the most important decisions you will have to make in your lifetime. Knowing how to choose a divorce lawyer and making sure you have the best divorce lawyer is part of the stress of it. That is on top of feeling emotionally flooded, financially strapped, or both.
So how do you choose a divorce lawyer? And what do you do if you need some extra advice?
In the US it’s likely that you will need to choose a divorce lawyer to help and support you with all the legal aspects of a divorce. You can do a DIY divorce, but people will usually run into legal issues and need to lawyer up. So let’s find out how to choose a divorce lawyer.
Word of mouth can be helpful in choosing the right divorce lawyer. So if you have divorced friends or people in your support group, ask them who their divorce lawyer was.
Choosing with a lawyer you know or has been recommened might make you feel better about plunking down the fifteen thousand dollar retainer. You’ve will have handled the unending pressure off to someone you are happy to trust, which should give you a great sense of relief.
If you’re lucky and have chosen the right lawyer for you, you will feel held, comforted, and most importantly protected by your lawyer. If however, you feel insecure or unsure of what is happening in your case, you have options. It may be time to get a second legal opinion or to speak with a strategic legal consultant.
Just because you get a second legal opinion does not mean that you necessarily will need to change lawyers. You may just need to take a deep breath and a step back to figure out if everything is on track. Often when people call me for a second legal opinion, it turns out that they just need to speak up a little more about a particular issue. It’s quite commonplace to feel like you can’t speak up when you are with your divorce attorney. After all, they’re the professional, you are the client. You can count how many divorces you have been through on one hand, whereas they’ve been through hundreds or more. Their experience and your current state may leave you feeling insecure about asking certain questions. For instance, you may be sometimes your lawyer may rush through explaining something because it is so obvious to them they forget that each step needs to be broken down.
Your lawyer may be great at their job, but not the right fit for you. Too scary, too uptight, too argumentative, to breezy, too laid back. Just not your match. Fit is super important when you’re spending thousands of dollars and making the most important decisions in your lifetime. When you are emotionally cloudy, it can be very difficult to make the best decisions. Whatever your personality, it’s important to hire a lawyer who is strong, straightforward, knowledgable and compassionate. But, not everyone needs the same level of hand-holding. Some people are more interested in facts and figures over compassion and empathy. From my perspective, your lawyer should offer both so that you are both protected financially and emotionally from the ruin that divorce can bring.
Remember, you have to live with the aftermath of the divorce long after the ink is dry. You need to be sure that your agreement is one that serves your family moving forward in the most positive way possible. A bulldog lawyer is absolutely necessary in some cases, but in others, a more collaborative approach is more appropriate. Trust your gut. If your instinct is that you need to get a second legal opinion, go for it. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you will fire your lawyer (don’t lawyer-hop too much, as it will not help you in your court case.) It may be that you just need to gain perspective from a disinterested third party. If you are getting a totally different story, you may have some serious decisions to make. With over twenty five years in practice in New York City and Massachusetts, I am well versed in the practical non-legal issues that will impact your case for years to come.
On the other hand, if your second legal opinion confirms what your present lawyer is telling you, then you may be all set. And yet, you may still feel insecure. Strategic legal consulting may be the perfect solution for you.
What do you do if you are generally happy with your lawyer overall but you wonder if certain things could be finessed a bit differently? In that case, rather than a second legal opinion, I recommend (and offer) strategic legal consulting. Rather than hiring a garden variety “divorce coach” or you may wish to engage a strategic legal consultant. Strategic legal consulting is similar to coaching but the person has many years experience as a divorce attorney so they’re suited to strategize and also to interface to support you with your lawyer.
Strategic legal consulting, is essentially higher level coaching to get you through and move you beyond divorce. When I wrote Better Apart; The Radically Postive Way to Separate, the floodgates sprang open. I received email upon email with people asking for help with their divorce. These people were not looking to change lawyers, they just needed more understanding of the process, and more confidence. I was quite surprised to learn how in the dark clients often feel in their own divorce.
As a divorce lawyer myself, I know what my clients should expect from me. Good divorce lawyers will too.
I work with my clients to ensure that their case stays on track. Often I will be present (virtually) for the client’s meetings with counsel to help translate the legal jargon and to help them keep on track toward their ultimate goal of reaching a reasonable resolution. If you feel anxious or insecure during your divorce process, you are completely normal. There are so many unknowns and getting your life sorted in a sensible way from the start (or in the middle) will serve you for years to come.
When you work with me as your strategic legal consultant, I guide you on how to make some of the toughest decisions that you will have to make in your divorce. As this work is non-legal I am available to serve across the entire USA (and sometimes beyond.) I get involved in cases where extra support is necessary. Some people only need an hour or two to be sure they are on track. Others retain me for ongoing advice. It truly depends on you and your situation. Your solution may be as simple as me translating legalese for you. Or suggesting that you implement the use of co-parenting apps, such as DComply and FAYR to keep your communication and co-payments streamlined. More often than not, strategic legal consulting is used throughout the process so that you can feel more confident and more secure through your divorce.
I’m a huge believer in being pound wise. The extra cost of strategic legal consulting or getting a second legal opinion can spare you tons of aggravation and thousands of dollars later. If you are feeling insecure about your decisions in your divorce rather than spending hundreds of hours of lost sleep and aggravating days, spend one hour clearing your mind and making better choices.