Making the choice to terminate one’s marriage is life changing. It is generally the decision of only one of the parties, leaving the other party angry, confused and frightened. The first, and sometimes most difficult step, is to retain an attorney. It is essential to engage counsel that is highly experienced in the practice of family law, preferably an attorney whose practice is limited to this very complicated and ever-changing area of law.
How does one go about determining which lawyer to hire? People get recommendations from their friends, family, co-workers, therapists and from the internet. It is not unusual to interview two or three attorneys. Once a party is satisfied with the qualifications of the attorney, the next question is whether the attorney is a good match for them. It is important for a client to have confidence in the skill level of his or her attorney, but it is crucial for the client to feel that the relationship is a good fit. This means that the attorney and the potential client have been able to connect with one another and have a meaningful exchange at the first consultation. A party should feel comfortable that he or she will be heard and that the attorney will be available and accessible and listen to the client’s concerns. The attorney-client relationship is of critical importance going through the divorce process and all clients deserve to have an open and honest relationship with his or her counsel.
The attorney will discuss with the client all of the various options of how to terminate the marriage. These options will include doing the case using the collaborative law model (see website for explanation of this model), retaining a mediator to assist in settlement, engaging an arbitrator to resolve some or all of the issues or handing the case through the court system. The facts of each case are different, and the attorney and client will work through the best process for that person’s case.
Having an attorney that clients know is on their side can ease the difficulty of a very painful and confusing process.