Divorce Attorneys Unmasked…
Are they the Wicked Witch or Glenda The Good Witch? Help with choosing the Right Fit Attorney.
I bet you have heard this one before…
Everyone hates attorneys until they need one.
It’s not a saying unless it is true.
You would not even believe the way I get treated by some potential clients who don’t even know me yet… utterly amazing!
Believe me, I have been threatened by a few Spouses (good thing my office is 5 minutes from the police station).
An attorney can be the “good guy” to their Client — like Glenda the Good Witch in the Wizard of Oz.
An attorney can be the “bad guy” to the Spouse (if need be)… at least I tell my clients all the time to let me be the bad guy and take the heat from your Spouse.
The truth is, an attorney should not need to be the bad guy. A GOOD attorney should be encouraging the Parties to find their own solutions. Sometimes, it takes some coaching and some prep work to get the Parties to that stage where they can look at their divorce like a business transaction. This applies even if…
One Spouse cheated on the other;
There is a high amount of conflict between the Parties;
There has been domestic violence;
One of the Parties is a Narcissist;
The Parties are super far apart in what they think is fair.
Your Divorce Attorney WILL become the Bad Guy if the Parties go to trial. This is when it is our job to really go after your Spouse. A good attorney has been gathering ammo throughout the process so they are 100% advising you when to settle and what the settlement should look like. When the case goes to trial, you will be ready (except maybe for the price tag).
While attorneys are not allowed to say we have “specialties”, often attorneys seek out the types of cases where they have strengths (super powers). They look for their “ideal client”.
You should be able to feel the attorney likes your type of case by how much time they spend talking about what matters to you the most. Attorneys are not mind readers — you do have to share your goals. However, when they are talking about the process, they will unconsciously spend more time on the parts where they shine. This should give you a feeling on if they are the right attorney for you.
For me, my super power is help people with High Conflict Co-Parenting Problems and also making the super easy uncontested divorce affordable. Since High Conflict cases take up so much time, I need to balance out with the more transactional cases who basically just want me to do all their paperwork for them and walk them through the process.
But here is the rub…
As an attorney, I feel like the Wicked Witch ALL the time.
Because there are a lot of people out there who can’t afford an attorney. There are also a lot of people who run out of money in the middle of their case too.
So, if you are facing a divorce, what do you do?
Be Realistic On How Much You Can Spend
It is super important to know your limit and find a solution on how to pay your legal fees.
You can DIY your divorce IF it is uncontested and pretty easy.
You can DIY + your divorce too. This is often called “Limited Scope” or “Unbundled Legal Fees”. It is kind of like going to McDonalds and ordering the Quarter Pounder With Cheese and not the value meal — — only pay for what you need (or want). Here are some examples:
Have real estate or minor children? Then you need to hire the attorney to do your Judgment.
Want a custom Parenting Plan? State form not right for your family? Hire the attorney to walk you through drafting a Custom Parenting Plan.
Want to work together, but need a little help getting a final agreement? Just want to make sure you have all the bases covered? Try Mediation and have the Mediator draft your Agreement.
Didn’t get your Spouse served the first time around? An attorney can draft the appropriate motions for you.
Want to push your Spouse into mediation? An attorney can draft your Motion For Mediation.
Need to continue a hearing date? An attorney can draft a Motion for Continuance?
Didn’t file your Answer in 30 days? An attorney can draft a Motion To File Answer Out Of Time.
Feel like you need legal advice? An attorney can do a paid consultation with you or review a Martial Settlement Agreement with you.
Not sure how to figure out child support? No problem. The attorney can draft your required documents to calculate the correct amount of support.
Already have an agreement? An attorney can do a Flat Fee (one price, not hourly) and draft all your documents for you.
Lastly, there is the traditional Full Representation Model- Hourly Billing. In this model, you pay a certain deposit into the trust account up front and then are billed out monthly. Working out a payment plan is a good way to keep yourself out of financial trouble in your divorce. This provides you with MAXIMUM protection in the process.
More than anything else, you need to find an attorney who you feel is on the same page with you.
Some attorneys run the show.
Some attorneys let you run the show.
While other attorneys, like me, have a team approach.
Which is what you are looking for in an attorney?
To me, a divorce is like playing a sport — — the attorney is the coach, the Paralegal is the trainer, and you are the star player.
It is my job to run the game and to find a way to win.
It is the Paralegal’s job to help keep you healthy, out of major pain, and to make sure you are game ready.
Your job is to play the game. Ultimately, it is up to you on if you win or lose. We can share with you what to do and train you on how to do it, but you have to actually execute the plays.
If we go back to the Wizard of Oz example, it is my job to give you the tools you need to get through your divorce- the “Ruby Slippers”.
Plus, the attorney knows what you need to win — which is why you hire them. In a way, the attorney is kind of like the Wizard too — telling you what you need to get to your goal. This could be documents, using formal discovery, mediation, settlement conferences, or other means of getting to the finish line of your divorce. You should understand the basics so you work with the attorney to make the best decision on how to move forward (and within your budget).
What else do you need in an attorney?
Some attorneys just give you the paperwork. They don’t really do anything else to help you get prepared.
They don’t give you anything to help you through the practical stuff that causes you headaches.
They don’t really train you on how to say things in the best light possible.
They don’t help you work on the trust between the Parties that will lead to a settlement which works for everyone.
They do ZERO to help you through the emotional side of your divorce.
They don’t really explain all the options available in the divorce so you can jointly make a decision on how to move forward.
The problem with this approach…. you get to the end of your case and the attorney really doesn’t know anything about your situation, the events that led you to this moment, or how to win your case.
Why does this happen?
To do all of this is expensive for you. I find that most people will forego the help they really need because they don’t want to pay for it.
Reminder: The attorney can’t control your Spouse. So you are not 100% in control of the process. However, there are strategies to help settle quickly if this is your goal and strategies to get the maximum out of the divorce is this is your end game.
But what if there was a better way?
There are only a handful of attorneys who know this secret…
They can use mini courses to prepare content for their clients and add to the 1–1 model to give their clients more value.
Attorney can create a Trello Board to keep you organized in your divorce and provide tons of resources in the process
Good attorneys have tons of free publications to help you through the process.
Technology can help attorneys create so much more for their clients!
At the end of the day, going through a divorce is about you… not the attorney.
Choosing the “Right Fit” attorney is important for you because it makes your journey easier. Let’s face it… you deserve to have an attorney that helps you feel comfortable and have a certain level of peace.
You are the one traveling down this road. It helps to have friends who are going through the journey with you. Find supportive communities and stop telling your family and best friend about your divorce 24/7.
Find the right tools to help you on your journey. The attorney should provide some for you, but you can also find great resources out there on your own.
Remember, this is your journey. You deserve to have the right attorney to help you through the process and get the best result possible.
Then, all you should need to think about is what your life will look like AFTER your divorce.