For the past couple of days, the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC have spent some time helping you learn how to choose a family law attorney for your divorce case. The advice that we are giving, in my opinion, is not difficult to understand. Nor does it apply to only rich people, or only less-rich people. No, this advice should apply pretty well across the board for all sorts of people. That means you. Even if you are skeptical that the advice included in this mini-series of blog posts won’t be relevant for you I hate to burst your bubble but it will be both interesting and pertinent for you and your family.
Whether your divorce attorney will be the first of the fiftieth attorney that you have hired in your life there are useful tips and tricks that can be applied to your circumstances contained in these blog posts. If you have not done so already I recommend that you go back and read what we provided to you yesterday and the day before. If you have questions about what you read or need us to clarify a point please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week to people in our community just like you.
With that said, thank you for your coming back to read our final installment. We will cover a few more pieces of advice starting with one that is maybe the most important- knowing how to approach a divorce with reasonable and reality-based expectations.
Reasonable expectations + honest attorney = great success (usually)
Some of the more rewarding cases that I have represented clients on have been those where the client really had no idea about what to expect in their case. I’ve had clients who believed that their spouse was going to bow down to them immediately on all issues including their children. Their view of the case was that they pushed their spouse around during the marriage and they would continue to do so during the divorce. I don’t mean this literally, of course, I just mean that they saw their spouse as a push-over and someone who wouldn’t be willing to put up a fight when it came to important issues.
Fast forward to the negotiating table and these folks often found that with a good attorney of their own, their spouse had grown a backbone and wasn’t bowing down quite like they had imagined. The facts and circumstances of their case led them to a position where they, and not our client, had advantages in dividing up their community estate and also in negotiations regarding their children. Our client was surprised, but not all that surprised because of prior conversations that we had had.
Sometimes your attorney needs to be your advocate by telling you about the rights of both you and your spouse. To temper your expectations is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact- it is usually a good things. These type of folks came into their divorce with one idea- an idea that was not particularly based in reality. Their expectations were so off base that my job was to bring them back to the real world and to help them devise a plan to achieve more reasonable goals that were actually achievable. Completely eliminating visitation time between their spouse and their children was not reasonable or warranted. However, restricting visitation to certain times, dates and places if family violence or other issues were involved was extremely reasonable.
The bottom line is that you need a divorce attorney who will advocate, fight and represent your interests in an aggressive, respectful and constant manner. At the same time, that attorney must be able to teach you about the law and to help you to understand how you can best achieve your goals. Along the way, if your attorney encounters goals of yours that are not achievable or reasonable he or she would be doing you a disservice to allow you to think along those lines without resistance.
The importance of meeting with your attorney face to face
Hiring an attorney is a personal financial transaction. It is not one that works well when you only speak to the lawyer over the phone. Now, if you live overseas or are in another situation where getting to the attorney’s office is not possible that is a different story. However, for most of us it is critical to meet the attorney face to face and to be able to size him or her up to determine what the person stands for and how well you believe that you can grow along side this person as your case proceeds.
When you learn about an attorney, you should contact him or her and set up an in person interview. This will allow you an opportunity to ask the attorney questions and to learn more about him or her. At the interview observe the attorney and how he or she talks and acts. If the attorney is looking more at her phone than at you then you may not want to hire that attorney. Learn about the attorney’s practices inside the courtroom and out. What is the attorney’s philosophy? How does the attorney view your case?
Remember that you are not being interviewed by the lawyer. He or she is asking for your business. It would benefit you to have an attorney, but make no mistake that he or she is selling you a service that they can provide you with. Be discriminating and hire only the best and most qualified attorney based on your feelings about him or her.
Look for problems with the attorney before they bite you during a divorce
The last thing you want to do is to take a lot of time in deciding which attorney to represent you in your divorce only to figure out a few weeks after hiring him or her that you have made a mistake. Many problems that clients have with their attorneys can be foreseen in the initial interactions between the two parties.
For instance, if you are contacting an attorney to see if he or she can meet with you to discuss your divorce the office phone number should be answered promptly. If you need to leave a message and receive no call-back until days later this is a sign that you probably shouldn’t hire that lawyer. Keep in mind that if you’re not getting excellent service from the beginning it is unlikely that you will receive excellent service at the end of your case.
Next, evaluate the lawyer him or herself. Lawyers are attempting to sell you their services during an initial consultation- this is the reality of the situation. However, be keen to how you are being sold. If you feel slimy during the conversation and the talk always heads back to money, signing a contract, etc. you probably ought to run for the hills.
On the other hand, if the attorney is willing to answer questions fully, engage with you in a brainstorming session where goals are created and then explains issues that are critical to your case you probably have a winner. They’ll talk numbers and finances with you too but that should be only after your questions and concerns have been addressed. A salesman or woman wants the quick cash and from then on their concerns are no longer with you. A decent, diligent attorney will want to help you solve your problems because it is the right thing to do and in the long run is more profitable for the attorney as well.
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