- What is your divorce vision? I know – crazy question. As I frequently say, no one gets married with a vision of one day being divorced. But, for many, by the time you make the decision, you have an idea of what you want the process to look like. Like your marriage, you may not be able to control the level of acrimony between you and your spouse. However, it is important to figure out what you want so that you can prioritize your steps.
- Do you want a lawyer or a friend? When you’ve felt isolated, dismissed, or abandoned in your marriage, you may find yourself vulnerable when searching for divorce counsel. It’s worthwhile to interview lawyers – and be up front about the fact that you are looking around. Good lawyers will understand and won’t be offended. Ask questions like these 9 Questions to Keep your Divorce Lawyer Honest. It may feel good to talk to someone who says he or she will “fight” for you or who constantly affirms that your Ex is horrible; some of that is normal. But, be leery of any lawyer who is overly confident about how a court will rule on a particular issue. Family law is very fact specific and can be unpredictable.
- Does your lawyer have a demonstrated commitment to caring about people? It may seem difficult to ascertain, but take a few minutes to ask some personal questions. The attorney-client relationship in family law/divorce is pretty unique. You want a lawyer who can go the distance on the legal side as well as handle high emotions on the human side. You’re entrusting your lawyer with information about the most personal elements of your life. It requires a great deal of trust and it’s better to ferret out whether or not you click right from the get go. An easy way to find out if your lawyer cares about people is to ask about his/her volunteer and community work, their own commitments to their families, and even their faith. In this information age, none of these topics are really off limits. The divorce process is not for the faint of heart and co-parenting isn’t necessarily any easier. Find a lawyer who can help ease your mind and make an otherwise unpleasant process feel better.
- Does your lawyer have experience inside and outside the courtroom? Family law is an emotional area of law, and personal attacks are not uncommon. Some lawyers mistake personal attacks as advocacy. Get an attorney who takes your goals personally, but brushes off personal attacks. Your lawyer should stay focused on practical solutions, remain realistic about what can and can’t be accomplished in the courtroom well, and aware of what can be accomplished through negotiation.
- Is your lawyer solution-oriented? In divorce cases, lawyers need to be very comfortable going to court and well versed in the law. They also have to be creative thinkers when it comes to handling different personality types, excellent communicators, and direct about your litigation costs. Each step of the way, your lawyer should be able to separate the person from the problem and offer you guidance about next steps to accomplish your goals as well as evaluation of whether or not your goals are realistic in light of the evidence that is coming to light.
Monica Cary is a Seattle Bellevue family law attorney with over 17 years of experience and has 5 years’ experience serving as a King County Family Law Pro Tem Commissioner. DuBois Cary Law Group, PLLC is a full-service woman-owned family law firm providing compassionate legal representation for Northwest Families with over 50 years of combined experience. Call us today.