Monday, February 25, 2013
A divorce is an emotionally charged period in your life.
Decisions must be made about child custody, support, the division of assets and
a multitude of other issues while you and your spouse struggle with feelings of
anger, guilt, betrayal or a desire for revenge.
You’ve taken the right step by hiring an attorney to represent you. Now, what do you do? Do you sit back and let your lawyer handle everything? What is your role expected to be? Here are a few things you can do to help your lawyer represent you and, at the same time, help yourself.
Be Honest with Your Lawyer
This recommendation is listed first because it is the most important thing you can do. Tell your lawyer everything and be truthful when responding to questions. If you cheated on your spouse, tell the lawyer. If you work off the books, tell the lawyer. You never want your lawyer to be blindsided and find out something about you from your spouse’s attorney in the middle of the case, or worse yet, in the middle of a trial. What you discuss privately with your lawyer is protected by the attorney-client privilege, so feel free to speak frankly and honestly.
Write Down Your Questions
A lot is going on in your life during a divorce, so chances are you will not remember the question you thought of last night when you meet with your lawyer next week. The solution is to write it down and keep a running list. Nothing is wrong with walking into a meeting with your lawyer with a list of questions. It saves time for both of you and helps your lawyer know what to cover during the meeting that will be most helpful in keeping you informed.
It is easy to become confused or to forget something during your meetings with your lawyer. Taking notes will help you to remember about information or documents requested by your lawyer during the meeting.
Make Appointments and Keep Them
You have the right to expect your lawyer to be focused on you and your case during meetings, but the only way a lawyer can do that is to block out uninterrupted time for appointments. Dropping in unexpectedly to “ask a quick question” is guaranteed to strain even the best lawyer-client relationship. Same thing goes for being prompt. Think about how irritated you would be if your lawyer kept you sitting in the waiting area long after the scheduled time for an appointment.
Get Your Documents in Order
Your lawyer will need documents and information about your marriage, the reasons for the divorce, assets and debts, and IRAs and retirement accounts. Ask the lawyer or a paralegal in the office to give you a list of what the lawyer might need and begin the process of gathering and organizing it. This will save you from paying for the time spent by the paralegal or lawyer sorting through a shopping bag stuffed with documents.
Getting the Help You Need
The emotions and stress that go along with the dissolution of a marriage might be more than you can handle on your own. A therapist or counselor who is experienced in working with people going through a divorce might help you through this difficult time. Seeking professional help will not be held against you and could make it easier for you to focus on working with your lawyer.