Yesterday, I received a phone call from an individual who is embroiled in divorce litigation with her husband, and who was seeking a second opinion from me about it. Specifically, she has suspicions that her current attorney is not effectively representing her and costing her a lot of money in doing so.
I spent an hour on the phone with her. Most of the conversation consisted of her giving me examples of how terrible of a spouse her husband is. While the stories she told, if true, clearly demonstrate an emotionally abusive relationship exists between them, the overwhelming realization that I had was that after a year’s time (i.e. the length of time that has transpired since her divorce’s inception) this individual has no idea about the elements of divorce.
Not having been privy to any conversation had by this individual and her current attorney, I cannot say why this lack of understanding by her has occurred. Either the attorney never explained it, or, if it has been explained, the client did not understand, forgot, or didn’t listen to what was told to her.
Regardless of the cause, her lack of information about how a divorce functions and is processed by the legal system was negatively affecting her emotionally and was causing, from my perspective, a mismanagement of her case.
I often tell my clients two things:
1. Divorce, from a legal perspective, is not rocket science.
There are rules and formats that, if explained to and understood properly by the client, should make the divorce process relatively straight forward. What complicates a divorce is typically a spouse’s (or both spouse’s) unwillingness to cooperate and participate in the process. This can occur for many reasons.
In order for an uncontested or contested divorce to be resolved efficiently and effectively, spouses must provide the necessary information and participate in the decision-making process. Alternatively, one spouse can provide all of the information and decisions, provided that the other concedes that whatever information and decisions are provided by the participating party is acceptable.
2. No two clients’ cases are the same.
While the elements of a divorce are the same, each individual client brings with them a different set of facts or circumstances that have to be evaluated.
In order to be evaluated correctly, the attorney (and not the attorney’s legal assistant) must spend time with the client to gain the factual background necessary to evaluate the client’s case.
For example, some clients have a minor child or children, others do not. Some clients have retirement accounts and some do not. Some clients have secured and unsecured debts and others do not.
Each client’s circumstances are unique to them, and while boilerplate formats are helpful, each person’s divorce needs to be tailored to fit their particular circumstances.
Every individual who is going through a divorce, whether contested or uncontested, should consult with at least one attorney. Why? Because, divorce is a major legal event, perhaps the only major legal event, in one’s lifetime that, if incorrectly handled, can have major ramifications on their personal life and pocketbook for years to come.
When selecting an attorney to represent you, realize that trust is the basis of every important relationship, including that of an attorney and their client. Choose an attorney that you feel you can communicate with and understand, as well as one that demonstrates knowledge of your individual circumstances and the law regarding them. This should be obvious after a consultation with them.
At our law firm, the process begins with a phone call. Feel free to call us at (770) 212-3313 to discuss your case. The initial telephone consultation is free of charge.