For many people getting divorced, it is their very first time going through the process. If this applies to you–or even if it doesn’t–don’t be afraid to lean on your attorney’s knowledge and expertise to guide you through this process. As a client, there are three significant things you should expect to be offered by your family law attorney.
Creative Solutions as Needed
Each case has its own unique aspects, and what works for another family may not be appropriate for yours. Your attorney should be able to offer suggestions for creative solutions in your case. For example, your relationship with your spouse may actually be really civil. In that situation, it may not be in your best interest to immediately file a divorce complaint. You may benefit from resolving your case before anybody formally files in court, either with the help of the attorneys involved or the attorneys and a mediator.
Other areas of your divorce may call for a creative approach. If your spouse is going to pay spousal support but can’t afford the monthly amount, your attorney could propose a support obligation structure that allows for lower monthly payments but a larger part of an annual work bonus your spouse receives, for example. Creativity can help resolve problems in a settlement agreement, and your attorney should be able to offer suggestions that may not be the norm but could work in your case.
Referrals to Experts When Necessary
Sometimes, you may need experts to support a position or protect an interest in your case, particularly if you believe you will be headed to trial. There are many experts that could be used in divorce and legal separation cases, including financial experts, home appraisers, custody experts, personal property appraisers, and employability evaluators.
An experienced family law attorney will be acquainted with experts who could be useful in your case, and they should offer suggestions in this area. Since there are often many experts available, it’s helpful to get referrals from your attorney because they have direct experience with these professionals from other cases.
Realistic Goals for Your Case Outcome
It’s easy to get swept into the emotion of a divorce or legal separation case and make demands about what the settlement will be. However, these demands are not always realistic, and your attorney should let you know whenever a request you have might not be a part of the final settlement. Your attorney is knowledgeable in the law and these types of cases in general, so they will be able to guide you toward what is a realistic resolution.
For example, if you have been a stay-at-home parent for a long period of time, it’s natural for you to want to continue doing so while receiving spousal support to cover your expenses. However, this will raise two issues that your attorney should discuss with you: the fact that you are obligated to be a part of the support of yourself and your children, and that it may not be financially possible for your former spouse or partner to support two households on what they earn or have. In this case, your attorney will discuss with you how likely it is that you will have to return to work in some capacity and the fact that the court can impute, or estimate, income for you if you decide not to work. Allowing any demands that are not realistic to continue will only end up harming you and dragging out your case. It’s important for your attorney to be the voice of reason and tell you if your demands are not.
Remember to be upfront and honest with your attorney about your case’s specifics. With the right information, they can help guide you as you go through the process.