It could be said that choosing a good divorce lawyer is a bit like choosing a good date. Do they listen? Are they nice? Do they know what they are talking about? Do they brag and only talk about themselves? Do they care about you and your family?
See how that goes? It really seems similar doesn’t it? People probably have also told you to listen to your instincts. One of the important feelings you should get from talking to your attorney or your prospective attorney is this: you may not remember everything they said but you will remember how they made you feel. Your attorney should make you feel empowered, cared about and listened to. He or she should want to know what you want. They should actually ask you that question. In our busy practices sometimes attorneys forget to ask that very important question. We sometimes think we know what people want, but is it accurate? We may even think we know what they should want, but is that really true? For instance, we have had cases where the parent does not want the children half time. They might have a job that does not work for a 50-50 schedule or they might think their kids are too young to go back and forth. We know as attorneys that if both parents are “fit” that the court will give each parent 50% of the time with their children. Sometimes that is not what the parents actually want for their families and we have to respect that. We absolutely must respect that.
And when you interview your attorney, remember one inherent paradox. The more you and your partner fight, the more money your attorney gets paid. So if your attorney has no interest in mediation or settlement, that might be a clue to you about motives and your future. And ask lots of questions and don’t let your attorney make you feel offended for asking. I want to tell you a quick story. My daughter needed an ACL knee surgery years ago. We met with a doctor and I asked him how many of these procedures he had done. He was offended and said so. I asked him again and he finally admitted; “two.” Well, he was just not the kind of surgeon that I wanted for my daughter and we chose a different doctor. An attorney should welcome your questions and be able to answer them without hesitation.
In the end, listen to yourself. You have good instincts. You don’t want to pay for an expensive attorney and have it end like a very bad date.
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