September 16, 2019
You’re thinking about divorce, a big decision. One of the biggest decisions a person will ever make. A big decision on many levels, not the least of which is, what should I consider, where should I start and should I talk with a lawyer? Your mind is teeming with questions. You ask yourself: Once I consult with a divorce attorney, am I committed to getting divorced? And am I committed to hire that attorney?
The answer is no to both. At our firm, we explain to clients that a consultation is not a commitment to take any action to separate or divorce, but can provide people with a clear framework in which to think about the future of their marriage and their own individual future; information we believe is critical to making the decision whether to move forward towards dissolving the marriage.
A consultation can be one of the most important meetings that you have in considering whether or not to divorce. The consultation is not a lawyer’s chance to impress you or market legal services to you or give you partial information. (although there are many attorneys who think so) It is an opportunity to be of service to you, for law is a service business. The lawyer you meet with for your consultation can be most helpful to you if s/he gives you all of the information you need. I view the consultation as an educational opportunity or information gathering opportunity and it may be useful for you to think it about it that way as well. I want to provide as much information as possible for you to consider. This often may include but is not limited to what a separation or divorce may look like for you and your family on a number of levels – what the process options are to achieve a separation; what the law provides with respect to the division of your assets and liabilities, support and co-parenting; financial considerations both in the short term and long term; emotional considerations; what this could mean for your children; how timing may be important in when and if you wish to start a divorce process and potential tax implications. A consultation (and maybe several consultations) can also be the place where we work with our clients for strategic planning if a delay in moving forward may be beneficial. If your spouse has already had an attorney send you a letter or served you with papers, then we would examine the options and your next steps.
You should go to your consultation with a list of all your questions. The lawyer you consult with will have questions as well. Be entirely truthful, even if you believe the truth is not beneficial or advantageous to you. You also want an attorney who will be truthful with you and will not sugar coat things. If they do, they are setting you up with unrealistic expectations that often leads to a bigger fight and disappointment.
How you use the information from your consultation is up to you, but the attorney you consult with could make all the difference for you and your family now and in the future. You arranged for the consultation; you paid for the consultation; what you do is your decision. No lawyer should alone make your decisions for you. If you decide to divorce, or delay, or do nothing, that’s your call. Your consultation should give you options and an education about the information you need to thoroughly, thoughtfully, and responsibly think about the situation and you and your family’s future.
This post was originally published on LazarandSchwartz.com 12/21/18.