How to Work With Your Divorce Lawyer
Divorce lawyers understand that people are not at their best during the pressure, stress and anxiety of divorce. Your lawyer is there to keep your case on track, guide you through the process, and make the experience as painless as possible.
Your lawyer should tell you the truth about your case and let you know when your expectations are unrealistic. Listen to your attorney and pay attention to his or her advice, even when it is not what you want to hear.
Your lawyer cannot work miracles. He or she can only operate with the facts you provide. Always tell your lawyer the whole story — the good, the bad and the ugly. In a divorce case, nobody likes surprises. To avoid being blindsided, give your lawyer all the details from the very beginning. Hiding information can cause serious problems down the road.
Be courteous to your attorney’s receptionist, paralegal, legal assistant, and other staff members. Your lawyer’s staff is working for your benefit. If you have a complaint, confide it to your lawyer.
Remember that you are not your lawyer’s only client. Lawyers must spend a considerable part of each day in meetings, on the telephone, responding to emails and correspondence, and working on other cases.
Make sure you have a legitimate reason to call your lawyer. Do not call just to “chit chat.” He or she will bill you.
Make a list of questions before you call your lawyer. Keep your emails brief and to the point. Most lawyers will bill you for every meeting, phone call and email. Your lawyer’s time is your money. Use it wisely.
Promptly return your lawyer’s phone calls and respond to his or her letters and emails.
Good lawyers return phone calls in a timely manner. If your lawyer repeatedly fails to return your calls, find out why. Call his or her legal assistant and schedule a telephone conference or meeting. If any problem develops between you and your lawyer, discuss it with him or her immediately. If the problem persists, consider hiring a different lawyer.
Spouses often dislike their spouse’s lawyer. Do not let your spouse’s feelings about your lawyer affect your opinions.
Pay your attorney’s bills on time. Remember that your lawyer has staff members to pay and they cannot do their best work for you if they are worrying about their next paycheck.
You need to gather the following documents and make copies for your lawyer: prenuptial and postnuptial agreements; federal and state personal, corporate, and partnership tax returns; loan applications and financial statements; mortgage documents; real estate appraisals; employment records; partnership and corporate agreements; bank account statements and copies of canceled checks; credit card statements; retirement and investment account statements; inheritance and trust documents; documents regarding debts; and proof of misconduct by your spouse, including letters, videos, computer hard drives, emails, text messages and photographs.
Prepare and maintain a detailed factual history of your marriage, including the good events and the bad. The history should also contain issues regarding you and your spouse including adultery, gambling, alcohol/drug use and abuse, pornography, physical and emotional abuse, discipline, disabilities, neglect and involvement in the children’s lives.
You should gather copies of information documenting your involvement with the children, including medical records, school records and daycare records. Your marital history should also contain dates of significant events in the care of your children, including daily routines, trips to the doctor and dentist, school activities, sports activities and extracurricular activities. Gather all photos and videos of you and the children that show you are a good parent.
The attorney-client privilege requires your lawyer to keep all of your communications confidential except under limited circumstances. If you disclose information protected by this privilege to anyone else, it may destroy the confidentiality of the information. When it comes to divorce, it is best to remain silent. Watch what you say and be extremely careful about confiding details of your case to anyone. Even your closest family members and friends can slip up and accidentally reveal something that could hurt your case. Never mention anything about your spouse or the divorce on the Internet or social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. This is your private family business. Keep it that way.
Never call your spouse’s lawyer even if an emergency occurs. Your spouse’s lawyer is not working for you. Should your spouse’s attorney call you, tell him or her to contact your lawyer. It is unethical for your spouse’s attorney to talk to you if you are represented by a lawyer.
Ask your lawyer before you close joint bank accounts or joint credit card accounts. Also ask your lawyer before you withdraw funds from a joint checking account, savings account or brokerage account.
Never hide assets. They are overwhelmingly likely to eventually show up.
If you want to discuss your situation with one of the divorce and family law attorneys at Herston Law Group, please click here to contact us for a consultation.
Information provided by K.O. Herston: Knoxville, Tennessee Divorce, Matrimonial and Family Law Attorney.