Divorce does not need to be financially devastating. While there are a number of factors that can weigh heavily on one’s pocket book as part of the divorce process, few are more important than the legal counsel you and your spouse choose.
There are a myriad of paths one can take to get divorced including litigation, mediation, collaboration or even negotiation. Any one of those options, or a hybrid of those options, may be best for you but none are more important than the attorney you choose. For instance, if you have determined that collaboration is the best choice for your situation, hiring a “collaborative” lawyer that is not truly capable of successfully navigating a collaborative case can be as detrimental or more to you than a situation where you believe litigation is best for you and you hire a “litigation” attorney that does not have the wherewithal to properly litigate. Most importantly, while many lawyers can and will appropriately settle cases, there are some that steer their clients away from settlement, regularly putting their own interests in front of that of their client. The tough task is distinguishing the former from the latter.
Some lawyers are known to litigate and are not capable of anything else. A potential client should be aware that the courtroom is often the least likely place to get your best overall outcome. Other lawyers only do collaborative work and are not capable or even willing to step into a court room on a contested matter. However, situations sometimes arise where having a judge craft the decision makes the most sense. Certain lawyers may claim they are child focused and make all efforts to keep matters out of the courtroom. In in actuality, this is really a marketing concept to get clients in the door and not a reality. The same can be said for lawyers who market themselves toward only fathers or only mothers.
Beware of the lawyer that tells you what you want to hear. More often than not, it is the client’s first divorce and it is not simple to weed through online biographies, accolades or war stories from your friends who recently endured a divorce while simultaneously dealing with one of the hardest, most emotional life events. The lawyer you choose should have a proven track record in creatively and efficiently resolving divorce matters both in and out of court, depending on your needs.
So how does one find the right fit? Ideally, begin with referrals from trusted sources and if there is overlap, interview that person(s). Depending on your circumstances, judges, lawyers or perhaps mental health professionals may be good, trusted source as they regularly work with parties going through divorce. In Illinois, divorce coaches have become a vital part of many divorce processes. Divorce coaches can be a great source for a solid referral. The point is, you should want more for yourself than just a referral from your neighbor or friend who tells you that their lawyer was “cut-throat” and “got me what I wanted in court”. Not every case needs a “cut-throat” and such a lawyer could end up “getting you what you wanted” at substantial emotional and financial cost that could have been avoided.
There is not a one size fits all lawyer. Spend the necessary time to find the right lawyer for you and your family. The effort on the front end will go a long way in making sure you obtain the best possible emotional and financial result for you and your future.