Up to now, we’ve been talking about what you should be asking a prospective divorce lawyer in Kalamazoo. In a later blog, I’ll summarize all the questions to ask her as well as the questions you should ask yourself to determine what you really need.
Here we’re going to examine what’s going on in the attorney’s mind when he or she looks across the desk at a prospective client. You might find the comments blunt and even “off-putting” but the hope is that talking to you like a “Dutch Uncle” will better prepare you for the real and possiblyly ugly world of a divorce suit.
Above all else the attorney wants you to be honest. You will probably tell her facts that favor your position and put your spouse in a bad light. However, the lawyer has heard it all, and knows there are facts you’re leaving out and that unless YOU give them to her, she will definitely hear them for your spouse’s lawyer in open court. Your attorney will be embarrassed and unable to give a good counter argument and you may not get the spousal support or property settlement you think you deserve- or even worse than nothing, you may have to pay.
So this means giving all the facts, especially the ones that may be used against you. This will geve the lawyer a chance to minimize their impact.
If you have been getting legal advice from family, friends, your hairdresser or golf partner, and you think that’s what you are going to get, forget about it. Every case is different, with different facts, sometimes subtle differences in those facts; different judges and lawyers and different personalities, including yours and your spouse’s.
If you’ve picked a good experienced lawyer, do yourself a favor, listen to and follow his advice. He knows the law, the judge, and your opposing counsel. He also is able to see the effects of your deep emotional involvement and how it may work against your best interests.
Listen to the advise about the various alternatives to a bloody court fight that will leave your children and you as the victims, even when you’ve “won”. Especially consider the possibility of mediation. You and your spouse may want to kill each other, but with the help of a mediator and your lawyers, you can still negotiate a settlement that will be more satisfying in the long run than a fight.
Which brings us to the question, What is your real goal in this divorce? Do you want a gun-slinger to help you get revenge against your spouse at whatever cost to you and your children or are you willing to work out an amicable settlement without all the expense and animosity a court battle will bring? You may go in looking for a fight where you have dreams of destroying your spouse for the rest of his/her life, but then realize you’re the one destroyed. It’s your choice.
Now, let’s be really blunt. Lawyers want to know if their going to be paid for helping you handle one of the single moset important events in your life. They frequently ask for large up-front retainers because they have found that it is sometimes all the money they will see for all their work. (I hate to say it, but while divorce lawyers are sometimes hard to get ahold of by phone because they spend so much time in court or in conferences, they also select to answer only those calls from clients who actually think enough of their services to pay their bills.
This all may sound very blunt and in your face, but you’re better off for hearing it here than from your attorney after the case goes against you.