Regardless of your approach to the divorce process, collaborative or otherwise, this process impacts the remainder of your life and, if you have children, their lives and their future relationships. Choose carefully. Choose wisely. And remember…
You are making this choice in the midst of very strong emotions, whether they be rage or fear, catatonic depression or the elation of hoped-for utopian freedom. These emotions can lead to grasping desperately and blindly at the first lifeline you encounter or buying into a strategy which does not serve you, your estate, your future or your children’s future well.
The choice requires patience, in-depth interviewing and most of all, it requires a “fit.” As you are careful about your choice of a dentist, or the medical doctor who will handle your most intimate medical problems or your mental health therapist, you must be careful in the selection of an attorney for if you and your divorce lawyer don’t fit well together, the results will be disappointing at best and catastrophic at worst.
- Interview more than one lawyer in whatever methodology you choose to operate – collaborative or otherwise. Yes, this will cost you a bit of money, but this is the rest of your life we are talking about here.
- While you cannot rely entirely upon the opinions of others, it is a place to start. But, ask these friends/relatives/ acquaintances hard questions:
- What was the most important attribute this attorney offered? What was the “value” of his/her presence in the case?
- Was this attorney a “barracuda”?
- Did s/he “slay the other spouse”?
- What impact has that “slaying” had post-divorce?
- Yesterday’s “win” is only a “win” if it improves today.
- Did s/he seem to really understand your friend’s future needs?
- Did s/he seem to be able to calm emotions and keep your friend focused on creating an outcome which would sustain her/him in the future rather than focusing on vindication and/or revenge?
- Make a list of things you think you know about the divorce process as well as the things you have questions about. Then pose questions about how this attorney would go about teaching you about the process, the potential outcomes, and their impact on your and your children’s future.
- Look for the “fit”! – the shared philosophy, vision, emotional support, ability to make the complex things simple for you. We all communicate differently and communication is the key.
- REMEMBER: You are NOT hiring a best friend. You are hiring someone to shepherd you through an almost incomprehensible maze at a time when you are at your most vulnerable and while you are less able to learn and adapt quickly than you have ever been before. This person must be able to tell you the truth when s/he knows you will not like it and will likely fight against it. Choose carefully!
If you have decided on the Collaborative Divorce process, you absolutely must choose someone who is properly trained. Check out the attorneys on both these websites-