Using the Right Professional

Some divorces call for additional professionals beyond those I’ve previously listed.  You might need an appraiser if either spouse is involved in a private business, some collectibles, or another valuable asset.   An appraiser is often needed to value the family home.  You might need a vocational evaluator if one of the spouses hasn’t been in the work for a while.  And maybe there’s another special circumstance that calls for another professional. 

 

There’s a final point to remember with all professionals.  Use the right professional for each task.  Many people going through their divorce spending lots of time talking through the emotional issues of their divorce with everyone they’ve hired.  All these professionals should have compassion for your situation, but paying attorney prices to have some emotional venting isn’t a good use of your resources.  Neither is having an attorney or their legal staff to run financial reports.  All these professionals are a great help in their area of expertise – just use them accordingly. 

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Picking a Divorce Attorney

Most people, when they’re going through a divorce either are determined to keep attorneys out of the process or feel that hiring an attorney is their first move.  A divorce is a legal process, so going through without so much as a consultation from an attorney is probably not a good move.  Attorneys each have different styles, though, and finding an attorney who will approach the divorce in a way you can life with.

 

There are lots of ways to find attorneys.  Referrals are probably one of the best ways to find an attorney.  Ask friends who they’ve heard is good, then ask about what the attorney did well.  If someone tells you that their attorney slaughtered their ex-spouse think seriously about whether or not if that’s a direction you want to go.  You don’t want to lose your shirt in a divorce, but you also don’t want to lose your self respect.  Everyone will have their own definition of a good divorce attorney.  My definition of a good attorney is one who assumes that a settlement can be negotiated outside of court that works for both spouses and any children they have, but who isn’t afraid to go to court if it’s necessary to get a fair deal. 

 

Even if you think the first attorney you talk to is perfect, it’s probably a good idea to interview at least three.  Ask them about their experience and philosophy on the issues in your family.  Ask about:

 

         Experience and outlook on parenting if you have children.  If you and your spouse agree on the way you want to approach your co-parenting, be careful that you don’t end up putting your kids in the middle of a fight you didn’t pick. 

         Whether the attorney promotes only litigation, or if negotiation, mediation, or collaborative divorce are part of the attorney’s practice.  If you aren’t told about anything other than litigation, you may be talking to a gladiator who sees every divorce as a battle to the death. 

         Retainers and hourly fees.  Don’t make a decision based just on fees, but in talking to several attorneys, you’ll get a sense what you’re willing to pay and what you’ll get for that. 

         Other issues specific to your family – a family owned business, a pension, a special needs child, an inheritance.  Some experience in issues that apply to your situation is advisable.

 

An attorney might not be the first professional you need to hire.  We’ll look at some other experts who might help you in the next posting.