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Separation and Divorce Guidebook


Getting A Separation and Divorce Lawyer

Have no misunderstanding about the services that your lawyer is to perform when you seek a separation and divorce lawyer advice. Your lawyer is not a marriage counselor and should not be expected to make your personal decisions for you. When you hire a lawyer, remember that lawyer is working for you to...

  • Evaluate the facts of your case and the legal issues involved and then advise you about your rights and obligations.
  • Advocate your side in all aspects of the process.

  • Negotiate a fair settlement under the circumstances of your separation and divorce, if possible.

  • Provide you with competent referrals to experts who will help you concerning taxes, appraisals, and business valuations.

Your job is to prepare yourself, to be totally honest with your lawyer, and to provide complete information. Incomplete or bad information often means bad results.

You must find a lawyer competent in this field to deal with your marriage problem. You may want to interview more than one lawyer before you make a decision. Make sure you are comfortable with your lawyer and the staff members who will be involved in your case because hiring a lawyer is much like getting married -- you need to try to do it for the long-haul, if possible.

Your relationship with your lawyer should be one of trust. Anything you tell your lawyer one on one is privileged...That means your lawyer is duty bound not to repeat your confidences. The same holds true for the lawyer's support staff. To maintain this privilege, DON'T bring others with you when you meet with your lawyer, DON'T discuss your case with friends, and DON'T let others read your file or letters from your lawyer.

If at any time, for any good reason, you don't feel you can trust your lawyer, don't hesitate to deal with the issue. If you want a second opinion, discuss your feelings with your lawyer and get from another lawyer another opinion about your marriage problem.

Expect that your lawyer will rely upon experts in such fields as taxation and valuation so your case can be effectively prepared. If he or she doesn't, ask why not.

Financial and insurance arrangements, in particular, require detailed and careful attention. But it is unfair and unrealistic to expect your lawyer, or any one individual, to be an expert on every subject involved in achieving a successful result. So ask about experts who can competently assist you on such matters as securing credit, controlled investment and insurance planning to meet your needs, real estate, skill evaluation and employment counseling, mortgages, and other non?legal matters.

Don't expect definite, precise answers to all of your questions. Lawyer's opinions are generally based upon ranges of probability that, in turn, are based upon the information you provide.

Anything not clearly covered in your divorce papers is probably lost forever. Plan now to try to avoid later misunderstandings because of ambiguities. Ask your lawyer to mail you copies of everything done in your case on a prompt basis. Keep a checklist and always be involved in the progress of your case.

Don't be impulsive and call your lawyer for everything you think of. Unless it's an emergency, talk to the secretary first. Always put your questions in writing before you meet with your lawyer. And take a pad and pencil with you to make notes. Don't waste time with small talk and jokes...jokes aren't funny when you are paying for them.

No lawyer should guarantee you a result. If your lawyer suggests that you can do better than what is offered, find out: a) How long it will take to get a better result; b) The range of what the "better result" can be; and c) The cost of getting a better result. Then look at the situation and see if it's worth the time, money, emotional strain, and the risk to try to do better.

The court system is simply one way in which disputes are decided. It has a language all its own and may seem complex, but there are rules and time limits. You need not be afraid of it, but you must respect it. Get a basic understanding of how the system operates so you will know what to expect and when.

You may be interested in mediation and arbitration as alternatives to court. Ask your lawyer to explain these options.

Your case means the rest of your life. If you want a second opinion, get one. If, for any reason, you don't trust your lawyer or you aren't satisfied, don't hold it in. Try to talk it out. If you still aren't satisfied, find another lawyer.

Make sure to find out from your lawyer the potential results of your divorce, including

  • The range of possible results.

  • The strong and weak points of your case.

  • The worst result you can anticipate based upon the information you have provided.

The average length of time to complete a separation or divorce action in your locale if settled, if litigated in court, and if appealed. And always ask about the costs.

You may be told that some of your goals are unrealistic, that you want too much, or you are not asking for enough. If your lawyer agrees with everything you say or you get no feedback, be concerned. Never waive important rights just because you want to get finished with the case.

There is little economic sense in fighting for lost causes. Always compare the chances of achieving your most important goals with the cost in time and money. You should decide which ones you are willing to fight for, negotiate, or give up. If you move forward without knowing the direction in which you are heading, it's like giving someone a free hand to spend your money.


Introduction ||  Preparing for your Separation or Divorce
Getting A Separation and Divorce Lawyer ||  Alternatives To Court
Read more about Separation and Divorce
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Suggested Reading:
Separation and Divorce Guidebook
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FS-Be Wary of Credit Issues with Ex
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FS-Becareful of Bargaining Away Alimony As Child Support
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FS-Lawyer Tells Me to Lie & Pension Double Dipped
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FS-On and Off Again Reconciles Can Create Agreement Disasters
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FS-The Dangers of Family Loans
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FS-Transference of Affection & 10 Tips of Divorce
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