While reading an online news publication, I spotted an article detailing one women’s perspective about the lessons she learned during her divorce. She offered readers a list of five things to know before you start the divorce process. Number 5 on her list was “let your lawyer do [her] job.”
The author described several methods for allowing your lawyer to do her job. I did not agree with everything she said in number 5, but she did mention three important points that I want to expand on.
Trust your lawyer
The author points out that you probably chose your lawyer very carefully. If that is the case, then you need to take a step back and let your lawyer do the job you hired her to do.
This is very important. Many clients are so wrapped up in their family situation that they try to take control of the wheel. While every client should certainly play a part in navigating the course of litigation, that does not mean the client should grab the wheel and drive the car. If you knew the law and how to manage a case, then you wouldn’t need a lawyer. If you let your lawyer do the lawyering, you will often find that your case progresses much smoother.
Let your lawyer remove the emotion from your case
Your lawyer’s job is to give you advice, guide you through the divorce process, and help you achieve your ultimate goals. In order to do this successfully, your lawyer must not allow emotions to cloud her judgment.
Many of my clients come to me with heartbreaking stories to tell. While I absolutely sympathize with these clients, I cannot allow my personal opinion or emotions to control how I represent a client. Staying objective about the facts allows me to determine how the facts can be used to best help my client. It also allows me to see how the facts can be used by my adversary to the detriment of my client. This is a skill that is incredibly important for determining how the litigation should proceed.
Do not underestimate the importance of property division
Your lawyer will be just as concerned with how the marital property (and debt) is divided as she is with how the custody of children will be determined.
A client will sometimes come to me and say that the only thing s/he cares about is the children and that s/he is willing to walk away from anything else. In certain circumstances, walking away from everything in exchange for custody of children may make the most sense or be the best option for the client. But this is only true in very limited circumstances.
In the vast majority of cases, making sure my client receives a fair distribution of property and support directly impacts the custody of children. If my client has custody, but insufficient property or support then how will the children be supported?
A divorce or custody dispute can be an incredibly draining process with legal requirements and outcomes that are totally foreign to an individual with no legal training. Following steps 1 through 3, and allowing your lawyer to do her job will be very helpful to you (and your lawyer)!