The journey toward finalizing a divorce can be a treacherous one. The smart move is to have a qualified lawyer at your side as you work your way through all of the issues that can come with the end of your marriage.
Either way, it won’t be easy. But here are several ways that you can certainly compound the ordeal, by ensuring that your lawyer benefits more than you do:
- Use a Bad Lawyer. A good lawyer will cost you a fortune. A bad lawyer will cost you more. Canvass any friends who have been through similar experiences. As with any service provider, internet research is not reliable. Personally consult with as many lawyers as you can. Seek their insight on how they would analyze and approach your particular issues given their experience. Also, ask about fees and billing protocol to make sure it’s a good financial fit.
- Use Your Lawyer as a Therapist. Your lawyer’s time is your money. Excessive phone calls to your lawyer to manage your anxiety will be reflected in your bill. A divorce can be a traumatic experience. Your own support system, possibly including counselling, should assist with absorbing and alleviating some of those emotions. A good lawyer will offer some emotional support, but their primary role is to rationally guide you through the legal landscape.
- Use the Legal System as a Tool for Revenge. Weaponizing a divorce action to get some kind of payback will ultimately tempt you to needlessly oppose rather than negotiate. Fighting without merit will typically seal your fate in front of a judge, including exposing you to paying some, if not all, of the legal fees of the other side.
- Use the Legal System as a Tool for Reconciliation. You are separated for a reason. Only one person needs to opt out of a relationship for it to be over. Strictly focusing on reconciliation will result in frustratingly passive-aggressive instructions to your lawyer, and more often than not, a needlessly meandering route to the inevitable.
- Avoid the Truth. People are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. Own the facts, good and bad. You will not benefit by intentionally revising history or mischaracterizing a narrative. Accountability, transparency and honesty will invite fair and expedient outcomes.
- Avoid Your Lawyer. The ideal lawyer-client relationship is a balanced tandem of instructions and advice. Also, the pace of a divorce is largely dictated by the more active party, not the least. Intentionally making yourself unavailable to your lawyer when next steps are called for will not be helpful. More than likely, it will provoke the other side into more aggressive action, dooming you to a courtroom when a more cost-effective resolution might have otherwise been available.
- Avoid the Boardroom. Embrace the Courtroom. Some of a lawyer’s most productive and cost-effective work is actually in settlement discussions and mediating with the other side. Discuss Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) models with your lawyer to determine whether one might be suitable for your particular disputes.
- Avoid the “Cost/Benefit Analysis”. Not every battle is a war. Contemplate what is really worth fighting over. Those spouses that invest as much money and energy in the small things as the big things will soon find themselves spending more on their lawyer than they are entitled to in their divorce.
Written by Nigel Montoute
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