Blog Series: Tips for Getting Through a Divorce
by Susan Culpepper, Attorney at Law
Serving the New Orleans, Mississippi Gulf Coast and Jackson, MS communities
Osho: “Your Mind is a Garden, Your Thoughts are the Seeds”
This first step in hiring an attorney is the most crucial decision you will make. There are multitudes of attorneys in the family law arena to choose from, and many of them are good ones. Choosing the right one for your own personal and unique case is just as important to both your financial and emotional future, as the day of your marriage was to you back then.
You are probably not at your absolute best stage in life when you initiate that first call to a divorce lawyer. You may be experiencing high anxiety; agitation; anger or depression, or foggy brain. At this stage, the last thing that you need is to consult with someone who is insensitive to your needs and only looking at you only as a revenue source.
At this juncture it is important to realize that across the board, every family lawyer is going to have similar knowledge of the laws that will affect your divorce case. There are no secrets.
What separates a lawyer from the pack is the unique legal strategy chosen, which governs how the shape of your divorce proceedings will likely unfold; the personal attention given to your case; the communication style used with you, your family members; other attorneys; and the Court; and the advice that you are given in how to proceed.
Everyone wants to be valued and listened to, especially during such an important time, the results of which will affect the rest of your life.
When you first pick up the phone to call lawyers, notice the following:
- Am I talking to the lawyer or his assistant
- How long does it take for me to get a call back
- Is there a fee for an initial consultation
- Does the lawyer seem to relate to my stage in life and what I am going through
- Can they give me a ball park price of how much my case will cost from beginning to end
- Are there options for flat rate fees
- Are there hidden costs and fees
- Does the lawyer put on a performance or seem authentic and compassionate
- Do you feel listened versus feeling rushed in or out of the office.
- Do you feel pressured to pay at the time of the initial meeting
- When you leave the meeting, are you told that you can contact the office for further information before making a decision
- What approach does this lawyer take in handling typical divorce cases?
If you are lucky, you will have a case that is settled out of court and the division of property is fair and feels ok to you. The goal is not to feel like you have won a boxing match at the end of your case. This is because it is very rare that any one person “takes the other one to the cleaners.”
For example, you may have gotten the right to live in the marital home, but the down side is that you have to be responsible for all of the household bills or have to give up most of the furniture. You may get to keep your retirement account that you have worked so hard for, but have to pay alimony for five years.
You see, in the big picture, it is best to make reasonable negotiations that you can live with so that you can move on with your life. Ideally, in most cases, it is great if you can walk away feeling that your settlement or verdict was reasonable and you are elated that the worst is behind you.
Each lawyer has a unique approach in how they handle their divorce case so it is important to make sure that your approach and intentions are on the same page as your attorney.
However, no matter how reasonable your attorney is, much is determined on who the attorney is on the other side. If the other attorney is unresponsive, or highly litigious, this could unfortunately drive your costs up and cause much unnecessary mental frustration and fatigue.
If you are reading this, you are obviously thinking of a divorce (or fantasizing about one)! See my next blog in the TIPS FOR GETTING THROUGH A DIVORCE: #3 What Happens Next? The Nuts and Bolts of Divorce Court.