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Realistic Expectations for Divorce Lawyers and Attorneys

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

4 Things You Can Expect From Your Divorce Attorney & 4 Things Your Divorce Attorney Expects From You

Hiring a divorce attorney to represent you is an important decision that may have ramifications for years to come, especially if you have children. Not only do you want a lawyer who will fight for your rights in a divorce, you want someone with whom you feel comfortable.

Most of the information here is applicable to anyone going through a divorce in any state, however, please be aware if you live in another state than Colorado that the information here about property division and child custody is specific to Colorado and may not apply where you live.

1. A divorce attorney who will fight for you.

You can expect your attorney to look out for your best interests while working within the legal framework for divorce set out by the state in which you live.

Colorado is an “equitable distribution” state, which means that marital property is to be distributed fairly. Equitable does not mean equal, so there is plenty of room in the law for your attorney to fight for your equitable, fair share when it comes to divvying up the money, property, and debts that you and your spouse accumulated while married.

However, if you’re expecting your Colorado Springs divorce attorney to help you take your soon-to-be ex to the cleaners and leave him or her destitute, there’s a good chance you’ll be disappointed in any Colorado divorce attorney. If you need to know more about marital property division in Colorado, you can read more on that subject by reading up on what is considered marital property in Colorado.

You should also be aware, if you have children, that Colorado family law decides custody and child support issues based on what is best for the children, as it should be, and not necessarily the desires of the divorcing couple.

During a divorce it is easy for parents to get caught up in the emotional turmoil and let their animosity towards one another seep into the divorce negotiations.

What I said about division of marital property also holds true for custody and child support; your divorce attorney is obligated to represent your interests and there is room in the law to do that, but ultimately everything your attorney can do for you must take place within the legal framework set by the state.

2. Personal Questions:

Your attorney will ask you all kinds of questions about your finances, your marital life, your children and any other topic that may be relevant to your divorce. Some of those questions may be about subjects that you find difficult or embarrassing to talk about, but rest assured that your relationship with your divorce attorney is completely confidential.

Unless your attorney has a clear reason to do, no information about you or your family will be shared with anyone. You can’t expect your divorce attorney to do his or her best for you without giving them the information necessary to do their job correctly. Even if the questions require answers that put you in a negative light, be truthful so that your can adequately represent you.

3. Honesty:

You can expect honesty from your divorce attorney. It’s just human nature that we want to be told what we want to hear and ignore any information that we disagree with or don’t like. Hopefully, you spent time vetting your divorce attorney prior to making contact and you chose someone who has a good reputation and lots of experience in Colorado family law.

If you have done your homework in choosing a lawyer to represent you in your divorce, but you don’t like what your lawyer is telling you, the problem may be that you simply don’t like what you’re hearing because it’s not the answer you’d hoped to get. Of course, if your attorney is giving you information that you believe is incorrect you should not hesitate to ask questions and seek more information elsewhere.

I’ve been discussing divorce and other Colorado Springs family law issues on this blog since 2007, so it is an excellent resource for learning about divorce. However, before you go looking for a way to prove your divorce attorney wrong, ask yourself if you are not accepting an honest answer simply because it is not the one you wanted to hear.

4. A Game Plan:

Within one or two consultations with your divorce attorney, if you’ve been forthcoming about your finances and other requested information, your attorney should be able to offer you a game plan so that you will understand what to expect from the divorce process.

Every divorce is different and some are far more complicated than others, usually because of the amount of money and other assets that must be divided, so there is no set schedule to go by in a divorce.

An experienced divorce attorney, however, will be able to give you a reasonably good idea of what will happen and when it will happen as well as give you direction concerning the things you can and cannot do while in the process of divorce.

Just as you have expectations for your divorce attorney, a divorce attorney has some expectations of you. The following list of four expectations will help you help your divorce lawyer to fight in your best interest during your divorce.

1. Honesty

You expect your divorce lawyer to be upfront and honest with you, and you need to be upfront and honest with your lawyer. One of the most disheartening things for an attorney is to get to court and find out that the client whom they are trying to represent to the best of their ability has been lying or omitting information.

I know that I don’t want to get to a custody hearing and find out for the first that my client has been arrested for domestic violence or has a history of mental illness. Be honest and lay everything out there, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and let the experienced divorce attorney you’re paying to represent have all the information necessary to get you your best divorce settlement.

2. Follow Instructions:

If your lawyer tells you to do something, do it. If your lawyer advises you to only communicate with your ex through him or her, don’t go around your attorney’s back and get in contact him or her on your own.

Don’t show up at the courthouse at 10:15 if your attorney told you to be there at 10:00. Remember, an experienced divorce attorney has been down this road before and can save you a lot of trouble and heartache, and possibly a significant amount of money, if you will follow the instructions you’re given.

3. Clear headedness:

In order to represent you properly, your divorce lawyer needs to know every relevant fact about your situation, but not necessarily every detail about your life. Divorce is a traumatic, emotionally and physically draining experience, but your attorney is not the person to vent to endlessly.

That’s what friends and psychiatrists are for. Your divorce attorney is a part of your support network and will do what she can to advise you from a legal perspective, but you’re going to need other people around you to help you through the traumatic fallout from a failed marriage.

Come to your attorney’s office with a clear head ready to talk about the facts of your case so that you can help your lawyer help you.

4. Paid:

This should go without saying, but lawyers are like everyone else, we expect to get paid for our work. If you are having trouble paying what you owe, be upfront and ask for a payment plan. In many cases the other spouse will end up being held responsible for attorney’s fees and court costs, but until the court makes that call, you are responsible for your own bill.

You wouldn’t show up to work after a while if your boss stopped paying you, so why would you expect your attorney to show up in court or file paperwork for you for free? Honesty and communication go a long way in any relationship, so be upfront and proactive if you’re having trouble paying your attorney fees.

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