When choosing a divorce attorney, first think about what you want that person to do for you.
If the divorce is to be amicable, the attorney must have enough experience to know the law and the likely outcomes of options to steer the case in that direction. They also need to have enough life experience to know people and behaviors and how to work with difficult situations. Divorcing couples don’t always display calm or rational behavior. Being able to diffuse conflict rather than inflaming disagreements can help keep the case in settlement mode. If the case is already one of high conflict, the attorney must not only be able to steer the case in that direction but must also have the fortitude to fight what are often emotionally draining battles. High conflict strategies often cause the attorney to have to make difficult choices that create enemies. If you believe your case is high conflict, you should choose an attorney who does not shy away from conflict—one with battle scars. The attorney earned those scars, so let them collect a few more when necessary.
Some clients feel tremendous fear and want the attorney to allay their fears. This is understandable and reasonable. Fear of losing children or finances or the future a client imagined is not uncommon. One way a divorce attorney can help a client control their fear is to help them get control of the litigation. This often means understanding what is happening—understanding the process. There is an answer and a method to get to that answer for every question and every fear. The client grows stronger when the attorney gets them to understand the process involved and the client becomes a participant in the process—proceeding step by step and addressing matters when appropriate—not just as they arise—helps to maintain control and predictability. Reacting to everything that the opposing party does and that is occurring around a client only sows chaos. Divorcing couples know how to push each other’s buttons and often say and do things simply to cause distress and uncertainty in the other.
Retreating from what is happening with the divorce can feel like relief at that time, but it only allows the imagination to run unchecked and the fear to escalate. Lean in and learn what is happening and participate. Develop goals for your life and your family during and after the divorce and pathways to get to those goals. The divorce attorney can assist you in not only the development of goals, but also how to stay on the pathway when the opposing party is causing chaos and doubt.
The divorce attorney should have enough legal and life experience to manage expectations. It is not always easy to tell a client that what they believe can be done, is simply a TV drama and has no basis in reality. Facts—not just slick strategies—control what happens in a divorce. The attorney cannot change the facts the client brings to the divorce. The attorney can, however, present those facts in a way that gets a client closer to their goals.
Being honest with clients and managing their expectations is not only respecting the individual dignity and humanity each client brings to their case, but it is also the only way toward a successful outcome. The divorce will end at some time and the client will be left with building a life and a future from the results. Allowing a client to assume something in error or choose an option unlikely to succeed, can destroy the pathway toward their goals. Sometimes “tough love”—telling a client what they really don’t want to hear—is the best remedy. It can be a wake-up call or a sad realization or the doors opening to a wonderful future. Whatever the result, being honest and not allowing a client to expect the unlikely or impossible is a necessary part of the divorce process. It is what your divorce attorney owes to you.
Jeanne M. Wilson is Colorado's Springs' Top Rated Divorce Attorney ready to take on your case. Go with the local lawyer who knows her stuff and truly cares about your well-being. Contact her office today for a divorce consultation!