Tips For Working With Divorce Attorneys
A divorce is similar to the breakup of a business partnership. Although it is very personal and emotional for you, the court prefers to see it as a business matter – the dissolution of a partnership with its assets to be divided among the two partners. The job of your attorney is to get you the best results possible.
For your attorney to accomplish this, you should adhere to the following:
- Your divorce is a business transaction. Therefore avoid using your attorney as an emotional or social advisor. If you need to vent your anger and frustration, or if you are having problems coping with the issues of divorce, see a counselor, therapist or a social worker. They are trained to help in these matters. It will also be less costly for you as attorneys hourly rates range anywhere from $350-$550 per hour. Remember, your attorney will charge for the time that you communicate with them regardless of the topic.
- Your attorney is not the decision maker. Your attorney will advise you on your rights, strategy and procedures, but ultimately you make the decisions.
- Work with your attorney, not against them. Although at times it is difficult to act in a calm manner because of the emotions involved in your divorce, always try to remain businesslike and act sensibly. Do not make any impulsive decisions. Wait until you can think rationally before making any major decisions.
- Be completely honest with your attorney. Your attorney will ask you many blunt questions. Do not give half-truths. That will only complicate matters and cost you more in the long run. Your attorney is not trying to find out who is ultimately right and who is wrong or who the better person is. Your attorney is trying to obtain as much accurate information about the case to get you the best result possible.
- Be prepared before going to see your attorney. Be prepared to explain why you want the divorce and how you came to that decision. You should also have the following available if possible (if you do not have access to this information, your attorney can help you obtain it):
- Copies of your income tax returns for the last 3 years
- Your actual income (last 3 pay stubs)
- Your spouse’s income
- Other household income
- Savings & checking account information, account numbers, name of bank, and whose names the accounts are in
- Information regarding any other investments including stocks & bonds
- Real estate holdings – purchase date, purchase price, title, mortgage balance, current value
- Information about jewelry, art work and valuable collections
- Pensions/Retirement – title, date of inception, the value of the pension/retirement and when they begin paying
- Debts – list all money owed, to whom, account numbers, when the debts were incurred, for what purpose they were incurred, when they are due, whose name are they in
- Educational and employment background of you and your spouse. List any special skills and/or potential employment.
- Any other financial matter or situation not covered above
- Ask Questions. If you do not know the meaning of a legal term or a legal procedure, ask. This is your life. You are the one who will be living with the outcome, so do not be afraid to ask questions. You should try to understand what is happening so you can make the most informed decisions possible. So, if you do not understand something at first, ask. And if you still do not understand the concept, ask again. If you are not getting answers from your attorney ask why not!
- Call your attorney only when necessary. Remember that when you call your attorney you are being charged for that call. Ask your attorney when you may hear from him/her regarding a particular topic. If your attorney does not contact you by the time promised and you feel it is important enough to call, then reach out to your attorney.
By following the above guidelines you will put yourself in a position to get the best outcome possible while saving money and even possible heartache.
Geoffrey S. Platnick
Shareholder – Family Law Attorney
Washington, DC Office
Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker, P.A.
730 12th St NW
Washington, DC 20005
Potomac, MD Office
Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker, P.A.
12505 Park Potomac Avenue, 6th Floor
Potomac, Maryland 20854
T 301.231.0927 | F 301.230.2891
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