Working With Divorce Attorneys
A divorce is like the breakup of a business partnership. Although it is very personal and emotional for you, the court sees it strictly as a business matter - the dissolution of a partnership with its assets to be divided among the two partners. The job of your attorney is to get you the best results possible.
For your attorney to accomplish this, you should adhere to the following:
- Your divorce is a business transaction. Therefore do not use your attorney as an emotional or social advisor. If you need to vent your anger and frustration or if you are having problems coping with the issues of divorce, see a counselor, therapist or a social worker. They are trained to help in these matters. It will also be less costly to you as attorneys rates range anywhere from $200-$450 per hour. They will charge for the time that you communicate with them regardless of the topic.
- Your attorney is not the decision maker. Your attorney will advise you on your rights, strategy and procedures, but ultimately you make all the decisions.
- Work with your attorney, not against them. Although at times it is difficult to act in a rational manner because of the emotions involved, always try to remain businesslike and act sensibly. Do not make any rash decisions. Wait until you can think rationally before making any major decisions.
- Be totally honest with your attorney. They might ask you many blunt questions. Do not give half-truths. That will only complicate matters and cost you more in the long run. Your attorney is not trying to find out who is right and who is wrong or who the better person is. They are trying to get as much accurate information about the case to get you the best settlement possible.
- Be prepared before going to see your attorney. Be prepared to explain to the attorney why you want the divorce and how you came to that decision. You should also have the following ready:
- Copies of your income tax returns for the last 3 years
- Your actual income (last 3 pay stubs)
- Your spouse's income
- Other household income
- Savings & checking account information, account numbers, name of bank, and whose names they are in
- Information on any other investments including stocks & bonds
- Real Estate holdings - purchase date, purchase price, mortgage balance, current value
- Information about your and your spouse's jewelry, art work and valuable collections
- Pensions - whose, the value of the pension and when they start paying
- Debts - list all money owed, to whom, account numbers, when they were incurred, when they are due, whose name are they in
- Educational and employment background of you and your spouse. List any special skills and/or potential employment.
- Any other financial matter or situation not covered above
- Ask Questions. If you don't know the meaning of a legal term or a legal procedure, ASK. This is your divorce. You are the one who will be living with the outcome, so don't be afraid to ask any question. You should understand everything that is going on so you can make the best decisions possible. So, if you don't understand something at first, ask, if you still don't understand it ask again. If you are not getting answers from your attorney ask why not!
- Call your attorney only when necessary. Remember that when you call your attorney you are being charged for that call. Ask your attorney when you will hear from him/her. If your attorney does not contact you by that time and you feel it is important enough to call, then call.
- If there is something that is to be kept confidential between you and your attorney let your attorney know that up front. Your attorney will be communicating with your spouse's attorney, the court and any representatives of the court therefore make sure you tell them what information is to be kept confidential.
By following the above guidelines you will put yourself in a position to get the best outcome possible while saving money and even possible heartache.
Additional Divorce Resources and Information:
Directory of Attorneys
Directory of Mediators
Directory of Divorce Services
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