Divorce is one of the most emotionally difficult and stressful experiences a person can go through. The court system only makes things more distressing, and a breakup litigated in court over children, home, and future support is a harrowing journey. Your lawyer will be your guide through some potentially very dark days - and yet, everybody we talk to voices how confusing it is to decide which lawyer to choose.
Here are five practical tips for getting through this difficult process:
1) Get a divorce lawyer early
Even if it seems like you are going to have an amicable split with your spouse, you need legal counsel. The rules around divorce, support payments, what you deserve vs. what you are legally entitled to are fraught with complex, nigh-undecipherable legalese. You don't want to be caught making decisions without an expert, especially if your spouse has already hired one.
2) Talk to multiple attorneys before making a decision
This is not the time to skimp on time and money upfront. This is a difficult time, but the uncomfortable truth is this is a journey and you want to have the right guide. Many people we speak with end up switching attorneys in the middle of the divorce process, which is even more painful and expensive. Paying the initial consultation fee to see at least three lawyers is a small price. You want to find someone who you trust, are comfortable with, and believe is experienced and will represent you well.
3) Collaborative vs. combative divorce?
This is a difficult and almost unfair question. But we've found it to be incredibly important and often overlooked. How easy will you and your spouse be able to agree on dividing assets, child custody, and future payments? Is your marriage splitting amicably or filled with anger, resentment, and bitterness? Is your spouse able to compromise in negotiations or will he dig in his heels?
A collaborative divorce is a very different process than a litigated divorce. In a collaborative divorce, you and your spouse, with respective legal counsel, make decisions outside of the courtroom and only go to the judge to get the details signed. In a litigated divorce, everything goes through the court - through challenges, queries, home visits, witnesses, and more. If there is any chance at a collaborative divorce, outcomes are much better - for children and for you, both emotionally and financially (collaborative divorce costs ~$2,000 vs. tens of thousands+ for a litigated divorce).
But sometimes, it is what it is. åÊIf you know you're going to end up in court, you want a lawyer who has court experience, who knows the judges, who can hold their own and be aggressive and forceful when needed.
4) Don't be afraid to switch
If you start feeling like your lawyer isn't a good fit, you should switch - the earlier the better. If you aren't sure if you are getting the right legal advice, discretely ask another lawyer about your situation. Ask your friends if you are being reasonable to check yourself, but this is your life - you should get counsel that you are happy with.
5) Find a good therapist or divorce support group
You're going through a tough time and you are going to want somebody to talk to, to process with, to vent to. This should not be your lawyer - it will be too expensive and it's not what you hired them for. Your friends and family will be there for you, but having a therapist or a divorce support group is immensely valuable for not being consumed by this process and moving on with your life.
At Lexspot, our goal is to help people find the right lawyer. See some of the best family lawyers in Boston here.