Are you in the process of determining whether to file for divorce? This can be one of the most significant decisions you make in your entire life. Whether or not to move forward with a divorce can impact your family, your children, your finances, and many other areas of your life. To be sure, entering a divorce without fully considering the ramifications for your life and those around you would be a mistake. Unfortunately, many people in your shoes rush to make a hasty decision without fully considering what divorce means to them and their families.
This isn't because they are bad people. Instead, most people do not have the perspective or knowledge about divorce to make a good decision one way or the other. These folks are limited by a lack of experience and divorce and little to no perspective on the possible outcomes. Rather than allow this to happen to you, my advice would be to collect as much advice from experienced persons and divorce as possible. The only problem is that the people in your life who have experienced divorce are people who have gone through the case before. While these folks may be well-meaning and have your best intentions in mind, the reality is that they or giving you advice based on their limited experience within a divorce case. This means that their perspective is likely to be skewed a great deal and may result in you receiving advice or perspective that is not accurate for your case.
If you are familiar with these blog posts, you may expect me to begin a discussion of Hal tiring, and experienced family law attorney is exactly what you need. At the same time, I believe hiring an experienced family law attorney is a great advantage to have in a divorce that is not where I want to go with today's blog post. Instead, I am more concerned with how you can prevent a divorce attorney from harming you and your case. We can start with a discussion on hiring the right attorney for you and your case.
Hire the right attorney
Even though you may have a plan in mind to hire an attorney for your divorce, you will necessarily be able to hire the right attorney for you and your family. No two divorce attorneys are equally equipped to handle your case. This means that you either need to get lucky in hiring the right attorney the first time, or you need to be able to interview multiple divorce attorneys before deciding on hiring one. This means that you need to be intentional about how you go about the interview process and cannot take for granted the need to speak with multiple attorneys before deciding.
In my opinion, the best way to do this is to meet with an attorney in person. Without a doubt, we have all become more comfortable with doing things online rather than in person since the beginning of the pandemic. Instead, I am suggesting that you make an effort to meet with one of the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan in person and gain some perspective about your case and learn about the services that our office can provide you and your family with. Going this extra step can make a tremendous difference in the case and benefit you and your family a great deal. It will take more time, but in the long run, it will allow you to gain a better understanding of the lawyer and not make a mistake in who you hire.
Have a clear understanding of attorney's fees
One of the most challenging parts of hiring an attorney is making sure that you and the attorney are on the same page with payment for their services. Just because you have hired a reasonable attorney does not mean that they are necessarily a good businessperson. For whatever reason, some attorneys are unclear about attorney's fees and how they charge. To avoid any confusion on this subject, an attorney with our office will always share your specifics about fees, how we expect to be paid and where your money goes. To be unclear is to be unkind.
Talk with the attorney you are interested in hiring about how they bill a client. It will likely be based on a retainer, hourly fee rates, and possibly an additional retainer for a trial. This does not mean that the attorney will be able to give you a precise estimate on how much your case will cost from beginning to end. There are so many factors present in a divorce that impact the overall costs of a case. You are free to ask your attorney how much your case will cost, but don't be surprised if the answer is not that specific or if the attorney declines to answer. Suppose you understand how an attorney bills and what money is needed upfront.
Establish how to communicate with your attorney and vice versa
From my experience, some of the most frustrating experiences that a client can have with an attorney are due to a lack of communication. Even if your attorney is working hard and diligently every day of the week on your case, this could mean little to you if you have no idea that the attorney is working on your behalf. The default assumption that I understand is that the attorney is doing nothing on your case if you do not hear from them. Not having strong communication with your attorney can doom your relationship.
What I like to do with clients at our office is talk to them about their preferred method of communication. For instance, you may prefer to communicate via email to your work or home schedule. If you and your attorney can figure out the most effective way to communicate with one another, you can go a long way towards avoiding many of the problems that attorneys and clients get into. These can be frustrating issues, to be sure but are certainly avoidable if you all put forth the effort 2 determine the most effective way to communicate.
The truth of the matter is that communication is about more than just making you feel good about the case and confident that your attorney is doing their job. Instead, communicating with your attorney throughout the case is incredibly important, from developing a strategy to collecting information and completing assignments that have deadlines. All of this is made much more difficult if you and your attorney cannot communicate effectively. It may help to talk with your attorney about a specific time or day of the week where they will put you on their calendar to discuss updates for your case. However, you can ask your attorney what their feelings are on communicating with clients and whether they value communication as much as you do. If you get the impression that there's no value in communication to the extent that you do, then it will be a good time for you to consider other options when it comes to hiring a lawyer.
Stay on top of deadlines along with your attorney.
One of the essential parts of being a practicing family law attorney is to ensure that you and your client do not miss any critical deadlines on their case. Our office has a sophisticated method of ensuring that deadlines are not missed. However, even if your attorney has a system in place to ensure that deadlines are not missed, that does not mean that you should trust them completely to do this without you holding yourself accountable. You need to be aware of what these deadlines are and track them with your attorney.
It is entirely fair to seek updates from your lawyer's office as these deadlines approach. It doesn't mean that you will always be able to speak to your attorney whatever you want regarding the deadlines. Family law attorneys are frequently in and out of the courtroom, and getting ahold of a lawyer on any day could be difficult for you. However, do not allow your attorney's busy schedule to Act as an excuse about missed deadlines or asking for repeated extensions on various issues in your case. The more aware of these deadlines, the more your attorney will be accountable. This will help you and your lawyer a great deal.
This does not mean that you always need to have deadlines for your case on top of your mind. However, some of the most frustrating times for an attorney in a client relationship is if the attorney happens to miss a deadline or not communicate something clearly to a client. By vigilance in this regard, you can go a long way towards helping to ensure that these types of disagreements and issues do not become a significant force for hostility between you and your lawyer. There is nothing you can do to eliminate this risk from your life. Still, it is certainly possible that you and your lawyer can be on a better footing together by you both agreeing to how old one another is accountable in this regard.
Communicate freely with your attorney about all subject matter related to your case
When I give you this piece of advice, bear in mind that you may have skeletons in your closet and other things you would instead not share with the public. However, a divorce requires you to be as honest as possible with your attorney, not only about the bad things that your spouse has done but also about the less than great things you may have done previously. There is no way that your attorney will be able to assist you fully in your case if you are not willing to share with them details that paint you in a less than favorable light.
For example, one of the things that our office will do with new clients is to have them fill out the paperwork of a general sort. Included in that paperwork will allow the client to share potential skeletons in their closet with us early in the case. This way, we will have it out in the open, where your attorney will be aware of any potential potholes or issues that may arise. That way, you will not surprise your attorney with the information at an inopportune period bear in mind that it is not fun for attorneys to have to ask difficult questions of this sort, and time is much better spent being honest with one another than hiding the ball because something is unpleasant to discuss openly. Suppose you are uncomfortable sharing that information with your lawyer. In that case, you need to consider whether or not a divorce is right for you or whether or not the attorney you have hired is the right person to represent you.
Define your goals and make your attorney aware of them
I will admit that the title to today's blog post may be a little bit over the top. Specifically, it is difficult to imagine an attorney ruining your life because of a divorce. After all, the attorney is on your side. It would not do anything purposefully to harm your case. However, if you are of the mindset that an attorney can ruin your life, then you should probably help that attorney learn, but your life's goals are during your divorce and afterward. Doing so will help the attorney learn more about what you are focusing on and allow the attorney to focus on similar issues and keep your goals in mind.
The fact is that an attorney likely views your case much differently than you do. As a result, you should not be surprised that the attorney may place value in certain areas of your case differently than you. Whereas it may seem to be an attorney that your focus of the case should be on issues regarding child custody, you may believe that conservatorships aspects of the case when it comes to your children are most critical. Whatever your focus is on your divorce, you should take the time to communicate that with your lawyer.
Please stand up for what you believe when attending a trial.
If you have read our blog regularly, you know that the attorneys with our office are big fans of mediation. However, settling a divorce case is a fact-specific situation. As such, you should not necessarily move towards mediation and a settlement unless he believes that it is in your family's best interest. Sometimes an attorney can give an overly simplistic or favorable view of a settlement when that is not what you had in mind for your case. Stand up for what you believe and what you think is in the best interests of your family.
Remember that your attorney is not driving the car
a metaphor that I give to clients is that the divorce attorney is not there to drive the race car. You make the decisions in your place, and you determine the course your case takes. However, the attorney is there to provide general advice and directions. If you remember that your attorney is there to help you avoid potholes, you cannot get upset when your case takes a wrong turn. You determine the turns of the case, and your attorney will help get you there as smoothly as possible. It truly is a team effort where your attorney is not responsible for every aspect of the case. The more involved you are, the better off you will be in your case.
Don't get a divorce in the first place.
The best way to avoid the possibility of a divorce attorney ruining your life is not to get divorced in the first place. For example, have you thought about your options for counseling or therapy within the family? Many people rush into a divorce without genuinely considering their options before themselves. I am not saying that you need to delay a divorce unnecessarily. However, if you can save your marriage through counseling, you will not run into any issues with divorce attorneys now or in the future.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are an excellent way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.
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