October 19, 2016
What do divorce lawyers tell their friends about hiring divorce lawyers?
Well, the other day, an old friend of mine reached out with some rough news. His marriage is struggling and he has reached the point where it’s time for him to meet with a divorce law firm to get his arms around some of the potential impacts to him and his family.
My friend lives on the other side of the country, and wanted my take on how he should find the right legal team to meet with out there. I share with you the three main tips I shared with him.
Tip #1: Look for a Divorce Legal Team Focused on Your Goals
Each person, marriage, and family is unique. You want to find a team whose legal and negotiation skills are top notch, but that’s not the only thing that matters. Divorce is anything but “one size fits all.” For example, one client’s primary focus could be the smoothest transition possible for their children, while another client’s main goal could be getting to the other side of the divorce process as soon as possible. In order to tailor your divorce to your priorities, your legal team’s first task must be helping you to identify and prioritize your goals.
As I told my friend, “You also want to make sure they are committed to learning about your family, your situation, and the things that matter most to you. (Honestly, if they don’t talk about how critical this is right on their website, it’s a good clue they probably don’t prioritize it.)”
Tip #2: Meet with a Family Law Firm Whose Lawyers Are Experienced in All Three Divorce Methods
My second tip is to find a law firm to meet with whose lawyers are experienced in the three divorce methods — litigation, collaborative divorce, and mediation.
Once a legal team understands your values and goals (see Tip #1), they should be able to introduce you to all three approaches to divorce so that you can choose the right fit for you, your spouse, and your kids if you have them.
I shared this comment with my friend: “The reason that I am harping on this is that the decision of how you want to go forward and work through the divorce will impact you and your family for years to come. For example, I don’t want you to wind-up in a litigated divorce just because the lawyer you met with only litigates rather than because it’s best for your family.”
The process you choose for your divorce is critical and will have long term effects on you and your family. Have an initial consultation with a law firm whose lawyers practice in all three approaches so that you will be able to get experienced guidance to help you select a process for your divorce.
Tip #3: Vibe and Compatibility
This is the “trust your gut” tip — the one for which there is no objective standard. You must feel comfortable with the legal team you hire if you are to work effectively together. You must gel. The office should feel calm, orderly, and warm. You and your team are going to spend a lot of time together talking about very personal issues — you want to make sure it’s a “fit.”