3rd Sep 2019
The less amicably your divorce is likely to proceed, the more important a trusting and accountable relationship with your attorney becomes. If you and your attorney are on the same page about priorities, strategies, and appropriate behavior—and you stick to those things—you will increase your chances for a fair outcome. Here are five ways you can be your best as a client, maintaining a good relationship with your attorney.
Accept It: You Need Your Own Attorney
First of all, accept that you need the help of an experienced attorney for two words: expert advocacy. The amount of advice you may receive from well-meaning friends and family can send you in opposing directions (it seems that everyone has a special friend with legal advice). The truth is, every divorce has details that make it unique. The advice you’re likely receiving from those around you comes from different circumstances or it’s generic, which is just as bad.
A majority of divorces are unilateral (one person doesn’t initially want to). Even if you still like each other, it’s going to get touchy sometimes or one of you is going to get surprised. Attorneys can minimize the negative impact to you and your family in resolving the following:
These issues often entail mountains of technical paperwork and measured reactions to the legal efforts of your spouse. Attorneys can stay focused and amicable.
When you are auditioning attorneys, anticipate the extent to which they will help make important arrangements you will have to live with. Look for the following traits:
- Someone who listens and begins with your goals in mind
- Tells you the good and the bad outlooks given your specific circumstances
- Does not feed your negative emotions, instead remaining objective
Be Transparent About Your Goals (But Listen to Reason)
Be up-front about your goals—it’s your life—and be prepared to hear what areas are flexible according to your attorney. In order for them to make accurate assessments, you need to come forward with all paperwork and all facts good and bad. Facts that aren’t in your favor are especially important to your attorney in preparing a strategy.
An experienced attorney will be effective dealing with the opposing counsel during discovery, often leveraging the facts on your side for a favorable settlement. You do yourself a great disservice to let the opposing attorney tell your attorney something about you that you haven’t disclosed.
Respect the Professional Relationship
Think of divorce as a temporary job. You should be keeping records and reviewing communications from you attorney constantly. This will allow you to ask intelligent questions and see the logic of your attorney’s recommendations. Further, it will prevent you from wasting time and money on previously covered information. When your attorney acts, it will be with your full confidence.
A closely related issue is to limit unscheduled communication to emergencies. During a case, there can be periods of inactivity. Checking in is normal, but calling with various non-emergency questions can strain the relationship and your bill over time.
Behave as Your Best Self in General
Attorneys employ facts toward your best interests. Of course, in divorce proceedings, perceptions can also carry weight in a courtroom. During your client-attorney relationship, you should do everything possible to create a positive perception of yourself inside and outside of the courtroom: dress, demeanor, language, and punctuality.
Don’t Be Distracted by Emotions or Threats
You are likely to feel a roller coaster of emotions during your divorce proceedings. You may catch wind of threats through friends, acquaintances, or your soon-to-be ex. Your attorney can steady the ship and remind you that the facts haven’t changed. Certain facts of a case will already be in your favor, and some likely will not be.
You can’t change or improve your result because you get angry. You can, of course, hurt your result by taking an unrealistic course or acting out in emotion. Listen to your attorney’s objective advice, especially when there is every reason to be angry or vengeful. That’s when you need it most. Some unreasonable grabs in one area can harm you in another and even affect the judge’s perception. The best clients can see the big picture through the haze of emotion. Stick to the plan.
Call Semmes Law Firm at 251-317-0117 or click here today for a legal consultation.