In the U.S., one divorce occurs every 36 seconds. That is nearly 2,400 divorces per day, 16,800 per week, and 876,000 a year. Chances are if you're going through a divorce, your situation is not all that unique. Divorce lawyers with a lot of experience deal with similar cases all the time, which is why they are so good at what they do.
If you're lucky, you're not as experienced in divorce law as a family law attorney, so here are a few tips for working effectively with your new lawyer:
- Be prepared
Help your lawyer help you. During your first consultation, he or she can only advise you based on the information you provide. In order to make the most out of your first meeting, bring everything from your tax returns, to your bank statements, to your court documents.
- Be organized
Your divorce lawyer will likely give you a copy of every document he or she sends out on your behalf and will keep a file of all documents essential to the case. Do not lose or misplace any of these papers. Keep your own log of important events, times, and dates that may prove useful to your trial as well.
- Be honest
The more attorneys know about their clients, the better they can represent them. Your lawyer is looking out for your best interests, but he or she cannot do that properly without all of the relevant information. Though it may be emotionally draining to discuss certain issues in your marriage, disclosing them may be the key to protecting your assets and getting you the best possible outcome.
- Be involved
In order to get the most out of your divorce, you have to be proactive. That means asking questions, seeking clarification, and staying in contact with your lawyer. If you don't understand something that your lawyer has said or done, ask for an explanation. He or she will be more than happy to walk you through it. Just remember to ask if they charge by the hour!
- Be realistic
Make sure you are setting realistic goals and that you and your lawyer (or team of lawyers) are on the same page at all times. Don't expect to walk away from this with the house, the kids, the boat, and a million dollars in your pocket, too. Talk to your lawyer about his or her expectations for the resolution of your case, and then try to manage your own expectations accordingly.
A good divorce lawyer will stay in constant communication and guide you through the entire divorce process. As mentioned above, you can help them help you by being the best client you can be.