A smart divorce involves moving effectively through the divorce process and understanding the roles both you and your family lawyer play during this time. Although you’re the one paying for the family lawyer’s services, you must be involved and realize it’s a job for you, too. There are some strategies you can use for working effectively together in order to save you time and money.
Your family lawyer’s job
- Develop Realistic Expectations – One of the first things you will do with your family lawyer is to discuss what you can expect to receive or pay out in terms of spousal support, child support, custody of and access to the children, and division of matrimonial assets. Your family lawyer can help guide you as to what a realistic outcome can be. Trying to obtain a result which your family lawyer does not feel you can achieve will only cause you to incur more in legal fees, heartache and frustration.
- Maximize the Economic Outcome – Lawyers view their job as getting the best deal for their clients, but the best deal may not necessarily be the biggest number, because there are other issues as well. Sometimes a family lawyer prefers a smaller deal to ensure that the client will collect what was agreed to be paid, or to avoid a trial that might further damage the relationship between parties who must continue to co-parent their children. For this reason, a family lawyer’s idea of the best deal and the client’s idea of the best deal may be different, and sometimes family lawyers must get clients to realize that what is best for them isn’t necessarily what they think is best.
- Look Out for Your Children’s Best Interests – Many family lawyers’ first focus with their clients is on working things out for the children. Unfortunately, some parents are still so emotionally distraught, or were such poor parents in the first place, that they do things that are in their own best interests, not the children’s. They attempt to hurt the other parent, which is ultimately bad for the children. Ethical family lawyers will not deal with crazy agendas and destructive goals.
Your family lawyer will advise and recommend, but will leave the final decision on any course of action to you, the client. If you want to work effectively with your family lawyer, it’s as much a job for you as it is for him or her. Make sure you ask lots of questions, do your research and be informed.
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