What to Expect from Your Divorce Attorney
An attorney-client relationship is a two-way street. Choosing the right divorce lawyer who is well-suited for your unique needs is integral to your success in court. It’s essential to choose a legal representative with whom you are comfortable collaborating to maximize your chance of obtaining a favorable outcome in a divorce.
5 Things Your Divorce Attorney Needs From You
Like any relationship, an attorney-client relationship requires effort, boundaries, and healthy communication from both parties. It’s imperative for both parties to demonstrate mutual respect throughout the divorce proceedings to be successful in court.
For you and your divorce lawyer to work together effectually, it’s crucial to have a basic understanding of both your role and your attorney’s role in the divorce process. Consider the following 5 things that a divorce attorney requires to advocate on your behalf, protect your best interests, and perform their job as effectively as possible.
#1. Tell the truth in its entirety.
Every marriage has its fair share of imperfections. While it can be embarrassing or even shameful to share some details about your marriage with a stranger, it’s critical to relay the whole truth to your divorce attorney. Otherwise, you may be preventing them from building the strongest case possible for you.
Telling falsehoods and/or withholding information can result in your legal team being blindsided in court. Moreover, it can negatively impact the court’s decision when the legal proceedings conclude. As such, clients shouldn’t hold back when communicating with their divorce lawyers.
The more details you leave out, the weaker your case may be. Examples of key information to truthfully disclose to a divorce attorney include:
- A history of marital infidelity (on part of your spouse, yourself, or both)
- A history of spousal abuse or domestic violence
- Addiction or substance abuse that led to financial hardships (such as drugs or alcohol)
- Any mental health conditions or behavioral changes that may be considered dangerous to children
While it’s normal to feel anxious about disclosing sensitive information to a divorce lawyer, there’s no reason to be. Chances are your divorce attorney has heard it all (if not worse) before.
Remember, your attorney’s role is to represent you in the divorce, and their service is most effective when they have all of the puzzle pieces. Disclosing truthful facts is mandatory for your lawyer to do the job you’re paying them to do.
#2. Respect your attorney by paying your bills on time.
An attorney-client relationship during divorce can be emotional at times. This is only natural considering how emotional it can be to end a marriage. Family lawyers are often aware of and sympathetic toward the mental and emotional tolls that divorce can take on families, especially in disputes concerning child custody or property division.
However, it’s essential to never lose sight of the importance of professionalism in your attorney-client relationship. While a divorce lawyer will see you through the ups and downs of divorce proceedings, they are still a legal professional.
Clients should respect their lawyer’s efforts by paying legal bills in a timely fashion to avoid potential awkwardness or detriment to their attorney-client relationship, as mutual respect is key to achieving success in court.
#3. Ask the right questions and listen to the answers.
Asking questions is the best way to learn what we don’t know. Keep in mind that your divorce attorney is not only there to advocate on your behalf in court, but also to be your legal resource for questions and concerns. If you don’t understand a legal term or process, it’s crucial to ask for clarification to ensure that you and your attorney are on the same page.
On a related note, take the time to actually listen to your attorney’s response. Given the overwhelming nature of divorce, it’s understandable that some soon-to-be divorcees struggle with concentration at times. However, it’s in your best interests to listen closely to your lawyer when they speak.
Not only are you investing in your divorce attorney’s comprehensive legal knowledge (meaning you should accept and learn the knowledge they offer you), but doing so can prevent you from wasting time by repeating questions or having to backtrack in conversations.
#4. Return your attorney’s calls and messages as promptly as possible.
Timely communication is foundational to any working relationship, including attorney-client relationships. While this doesn’t mean you have to ditch work or sprint out in the middle of an appointment every time you get a text, it does mean that you shouldn’t leave it sitting unopened for days or weeks on end.
Healthy communication doesn’t have to be an inconvenience. Simply practice keeping your phone on hand with alerts set so you don’t miss anything important during your divorce case, and do your best to respond to communications the next time you have a free moment.
#5. Don’t treat your attorney like a therapist.
Again, divorce can be emotional. Divorce attorneys realize this, which is why most family lawyers are compassionate and empathetic to their clients. While these traits are often appreciated, it’s worth noting that compassion alone doesn’t win court cases.
To have a good working relationship with a divorce attorney, you must set professional boundaries and maintain them. This isn’t to say that your divorce lawyer doesn’t care how you feel; it simply means that your attorney requires professional boundaries to perform their role effectively.
Oversharing with an attorney can lead to blurred professional lines, which in turn can create confusion and distract from the legal tasks at hand. Many people suffer poor mental health when undergoing a divorce. It’s completely okay to not feel okay, as long as you seek proper care from the right licensed professional. There’s no shame in seeking therapy or counseling to obtain needed coping strategies and help you process this major life event.
5 Things Your Divorce Lawyer Should Do for You
Assuming that the client does their part to maintain a good attorney-client relationship, you can expect your lawyer to do their part to perform their role as effectively as possible.
What things can you reasonably expect from your lawyer during the divorce proceedings? Generally, a reliable divorce attorney should:
- Keep you informed. A good family lawyer will notify you of updates in your case and do all they can to prepare you for the next step.
- Be upfront with you. A divorce attorney should be straightforward and honest about the details of your case.
- Explain/clarify legal statutes and terms. A divorce lawyer will use their legal knowledge, skills, and training to give you a better understanding of the divorce process and what to expect.
- Provide objective advice. A divorce attorney can direct your focus to what matters most, regardless of emotions. This can help you stay on track and devote your attention to items that will impact your future, such as child support or asset distribution.
- Be compassionate and professional. A skilled family lawyer will not only know the balance between compassion and professionalism, but can adapt to what the situation calls for. There will be times when your divorce lawyer offers a comforting word during a phone call and times when they need to buckle down and complete a legal responsibility.
It’s important to trust that your attorney knows best and follow their lead during divorce proceedings to maximize your chance of success in court. You can do your part by giving your lawyer the space and authority to provide the services you’re paying them for.
Our Family Lawyers Are Here to Prioritize Your Needs
Divorce can have lasting consequences in your life. It’s important to turn to a trustworthy family lawyer with adequate experience, knowledge, and skills if you wish to obtain a favorable outcome in court. At Burch Shepard Family Law Group, we take pride in providing effective legal counsel and customized legal solutions to our clients.
Not only are our compassionate divorce attorneys solely devoted to family law, but they bring over 100 years of collective legal experience to the table to best serve our clients. If you’re filing for divorce in Orange County, you don’t have to fight alone. Reach out to our firm to learn how we can guide you through the complexities of divorce in California.
Divorce can be daunting. Turn to a family lawyer you can trust to keep your best interests at heart. Call (949) 565-4158 or contact us online today to request a free consultation with an experienced Orange County divorce attorney.