Posts

What You Need To Know In Order To Hire An Attorney And Survive The Ordeal

What You Need To Know In Order To Hire An Attorney And Survive The Ordeal

 

I wonder how long people who go through a divorce remain shell shocked?

I have struggled for so long trying to figure out why my life turned out like this. Why was I the chosen one to carry so much and what was my role in this?

Did I sign on to this in another life?

Did I agree to this before I was born?

Why did I allow so much emotional abuse after the divorce?

Why didn’t our divorce end on some note, if any of goodness?

I mean, he went through three attorneys. I had two. The first one was our mediator. But suddenly as it often happens, my then husband abandoned the notion that mediation was a good way to go. He allowed himself to be counseled by the woman he left me for and by a myriad of others presumably.

So, I was left to have the mediator act on my behalf. But sadly, I found out shortly into it that she was rather disinterested and was planning on retiring. She did. Hence the reason for me to hire someone new.

How does one hire an attorney anyway?

How does one hire someone who is serving you like a real estate agent and a Hollywood agent at the same time? Only the buying and selling is your personal marriage and your children are the amenities in the deal. How do you find an attorney that apparently has to look and feel the opposite of the person who served as the priest or minister who married you?

The dis-marriage is equal in emotional intensity as the marriage. On your wedding day, all is perfect in your world. You are enchanted with life and cannot wait to start this new journey into the unknown. On the day of your divorce, you are emotionally exhausted and terrified of the journey that lay in front of you. What I clearly see now as I reflect on that time 20 years ago, was that it all could have been so much better, and it all looks so silly to me now.

So, what do you need to know in order to hire an attorney and survive the ordeal?

How can you avoid being emotionally bankrupt along with financially bankrupt? What I am about to share has nothing to do with strategy or cunning. It is only my advice on how you can keep your heart and soul intact and keep your sanity as well. So, as I said to my attorney after every phone call, fax, email and paperclip he billed me for, I told him that I wanted to send my kids to college one day; not his. Keep that on the forefront of your brain as you wade through the troubled waters of divorce and seek a divorce attorney.

Please state your intentions.

This should be the first question you ask a prospective divorce attorney. You cannot control what your spouse is going to do or say as it relates to his finding the right representation. But you have all the say as it relates to your hiring your own representation because you are not only representing you. That is the easy part. You are representing your children as well.

You most likely have never been through this before and are terrified as you lay vulnerable to a process that you have never imagined before. Go with your gut, even at the first handshake. You do not want to be his prey too. Ask him what his methods are? Do they match your motives and mantras? There are so many questions in dismantling a marriage and none of them seem natural.

A good attorney will advise you of what is not possible, just as much as what is possible. Because my husband changed attorneys three times, it felt like the goal post kept getting moved farther away. His attorneys all seemed to have convinced him that I was a bad person who never held an ounce of importance to him. They did this, of course, to keep him angry and to keep cutting them the checks. They also convinced him that our children who were 4 years old and 4 weeks old, were literally collateral that he could leverage. That was the hardest thing I had ever faced, and it almost completely undid me.

The dehumanizing nature of child custody and support and the fact that your children’s wellbeing is relegated to a decimeter calculation was more than I could bear. In one of the child custody hearings, I remember my actual hearing started to fade away. I could see people talking but I could no longer hear words. My ex husband never once raised his head as they went on and sliced up our children before my eyes.

I drifted back to a moment less than a year earlier when I was being wheeled out of the hospital after delivering my baby girl and the volunteers all telling us what a perfect baby she was. My life felt as complete as I could possibly imagine. I loved my husband; I loved my 4-year-old little boy and we were all going home together. The moment I was currently in came slamming back at me and I couldn’t believe that I was sitting in a strange courtroom next to a mere stranger and my family was being dismantled by a Judge I had never seen before.

I quietly asked my attorney if I could be excused? I got up and walked to the women’s restroom and vomited. It was a physical reaction to the utter disbelief of where my life had been taken. Nothing could have been farther from that moment in the hospital and no one should ever experience that. Especially a new mother.

Don’t forget that you both once cared.

I say this because there was a time that you both were on the same page and your ex-husband was present when the order for the babies was placed. When I look back at the chaotic times during our divorce, I see that much of it came from the attorneys. Oh, don’t get me wrong, the other woman in our life had much to say as well.  Her motivations were to take care of herself and her children. She didn’t need his money. She just needed the man beside her and to heck, with the wife, baby, and toddler he was also responsible for.

I could only see her as a woman capable of cheating with a man with a pregnant wife so there was no need for me to hold her to any high standards. But the attorneys had more knowledge than anyone on how to play the game and, played it they did.

Before them stood two people who were well out of their comfort zones and were complete sponges for anything to be absorbed into. This included creating the utter strangers we became to each other overnight. My husband may have been a mixed-up man who didn’t know how to be happy in my opinion. But he wasn’t a bad man. I never could have dated, let alone marry a bad man. That isn’t to make excuses for him. This realization has come over time so that I could better understand his decisions based on what I now believe to be his fears and insecurities.

We did have isolated moments during the divorce process when we were standing on the same team sideline. But those moments became fewer and fewer as the attorneys played us against each other as if we were in a prizefighting match. We soon lost track of what we were doing and why. The why was always, or at least should have been… our children.

I did not qualify for spousal support, so it was all about the child support. And soon that became a game. The percentage of time for him was all about the money it equated to. I never really understood that. He wanted to flee us and live with his girlfriend who lived 50 miles away. I was fine with that. Go. I never wanted to see them in my town anyway. But when you have children, and in my case very small children that matters.

I had a baby who was now being taken 50 miles away from me. And it no longer became about my discomfort… and believe me I died every other weekend that my children were taken to some women’s house that I had never even met. But it became about the wellbeing of my children. My parents who were from the greatest generation were horrified to see what was happening with their grandchildren. It just wasn’t in their realm of thinking that a father could do this to the mother of his children. I spent many hours consoling them as much as myself.

The attorneys and the Judge no longer looked at us as people. We were just a negotiation. Take the time needed to come together for your children outside of the attorneys. If we could have had a civil conversation centered solely around our children, I really don’t think we would have had to endure what amounted as cruelty to each other. He wasn’t a bad man. But his lawyer and girlfriend had agendas that outweighed his sense of decency which preyed on his weakness and the people who suffered the most were our children.

So, I share this so you all get a hold of the divorce process before it gets a hold of you and before you get as far away from the sacred moments of bringing your babies into the world together as you could possibly imagine. Don’t let that happen. Find a sliver of the reason you came together in the first place and do the right thing for your children. You are responsible for raising them and you owe your children this. The attorneys and Judges are not their parents and they will fade away as soon as all the dust has settled.

We all have regrets.

I can’t think of anything in my life that I regret more than having to go through a divorce and be a single parent. There isn’t anything in my upbringing that prepared me for that. But what I know for sure 20 years later, is that if he and I had first calmly sat down and outlined our own ground rules and reminded each other that there was a day not that long ago, that we did love each other and that we were friends then maybe, just maybe we could have taken the reigns to that horrible experience away from the attorneys, judges and even girlfriends and navigated the choppy waters with the north star of our children in mind.

Maybe then we all would have suffered less. I don’t know for sure, but I want to remember that my ex-husband was my Best Friend at one time and trusted him with my life and the lives of our children.

Choose wisely so that one of the regrets you have in divorce, isn’t the attorney that represented you. And your children, though tough as divorce is on them, are spared the taffy pull that can last a lifetime for them and which can become fully ensconced into their blueprints. Give them a chance to be as whole as possible by just choosing wisely your words, your actions and your attorney at the start. And remember you had a childhood. Let them have one too.

The post What You Need To Know In Order To Hire An Attorney And Survive The Ordeal appeared first on Divorced Moms.

Read More –>

What Motivates a Collaborative Divorce Attorney?

What Motivates a Collaborative Divorce Attorney?

Divorce should be more than going through the legal process — it should be a time to set goals and create a vision for your new life.

The post What Motivates a Collaborative Divorce Attorney? appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

Read More –>

5 Items To Consider Discussing At A Divorce Attorney Consultation

5 Items To Consider Discussing At A Divorce Attorney Consultation

If you’re considering divorce that will mean consulting a divorce attorney. Below are 5 issues you should make sure to discuss during an initial consultation.

The post 5 Items To Consider Discussing At A Divorce Attorney Consultation appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

Read More –>

3 Things You Must Ask a Family Law Attorney Before You Hire Them

3 Things You Must Ask a Family Law Attorney Before You Hire Them

While there are a number of questions that you should ask a family attorney prior to hiring them, below are three things that you must ask before making a decision about your representation.

The post 3 Things You Must Ask a Family Law Attorney Before You Hire Them appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

Read More –>

hiring an effective attorney

The Secret to Hiring an Effective Attorney:  Emotional Intelligence

hiring an effective attorney

 

My parents divorced right after I was born and I was raised by my mother. She was a social worker for the New York State Division for Youth. She worked there for decades and I can remember going into her government office, in Syracuse, New York, and raiding the office’s supply closet. Money was always tight.

Being raised by a single mother was challenging, for sure, but I was very fortunate that my mother was emotionally intelligent. In fact, had I been raised by my father I suspect my life would have been far less purpose-driven and more focused on self-centered endeavors. I am a very lucky man in that respect.

I am now a divorce and family attorney with a family of my own. I speak with people every day about divorce, custody modifications, relocation, decision-making and everything else one would expect of someone managing a large family law firm. I watch competitors everyday market to their “target audience.”

Marketing Based on Fear:

We have a lot of “Men’s Rights Firms” here in our state, and they get many clients calling every day. We have law firms locally that market “aggressive representation” (admittedly I did as well in the beginning) and messaging similar to “We Win Family Law cases.”  Nobody wins these cases. I see no value in advertising expertise or specialty related to the sex of a client. It’s marketing based on fear, and it’s natural for parents to be fearful as they contemplate major life changes.

I disagree with the idea that you need to have any plan in place other than being very deliberate and thoughtful about choosing an attorney.

He cheated on you.

He lied to you.

He isn’t a good dad.

He used marital money to buy his mid-life-crisis answer.

If someone told you, when you are raw and emotional, to get aggressive and hire Lawyer X to fight for you, I suspect you would think that is a good idea. I suspect I would feel the same way. But that is really, really bad advice.

The Secret to Hiring an Effective Attorney:  Emotional Intelligence

Fighting and being aggressive has its place in every family law case, but how you fight and how you are aggressive is the key. Understand that you are extracting yourself from a dysfunctional relationship. There is pain, fear, anger and every other emotion open and available for you to experience.The feeling you do not want is regret with your choice in representation.

I strongly suggest that you seek representation that does not mirror you, your emotions, or your anger…at least at the outset. Do not hire an attorney who gets you motivated to destroy him. If your case warrants a parenting time restriction, or a protection order, a private investigator or a Child and Family Investigator then the right attorney will guide you only after he or she understands your case, your relationship with your husband and children, and your goals.

Choose an emotionally intelligent lawyer. 

What exactly is that?

Emotionally intelligent people are…aware. That’s all. But that’s huge! An emotionally intelligent attorney uses all her tools in her toolbox. She doesn’t react to opposing counsel who thinks being a jerk is in the job description.

An emotionally intelligent attorney uses data, strategy and thought in accordance with a communicated plan of action geared towards a successful outcome. They think about their actions and advice, understanding the raw nature of the situation, and they don’t exploit the client’s fears. Emotionally intelligent attorneys can inspire and protect clients, oftentimes, from themselves.

Think about it. Your husband cheated on you with someone you know. He is clearly a piece of trash and shouldn’t have parenting time because he can’t be trusted. Right? Or, even more cutting, he introduces your children to her as he and your babies “accidentally” run into her while grocery shopping. You want it to stop. You want him to pay dearly. That mindset will have many lawyers licking their chops to follow your strategy and blow it all up…and bill you for it all.

Emotional intelligence is not a weakness. It is the epitome of strength and most lawyers don’t have it. Emotional intelligence is seeing the case from both the 30,000-foot view, anticipating behaviors based on the data, and having the legal and factual knowledge to make strategic decisions that benefit the client in the short term and long term.

Emotional intelligence is not ripping off scathing emails to opposing counsel, at your behest, because you are hurt. Emotional intelligence is using your narcissist husband’s abusive texts to your advantage by waiting until he portrays himself the way he sees himself and opposite to what the facts, collateral witnesses and written or recorded communications conclusively portray him to be.

If your “aggressive lawyer” did what you asked, or on her own, acted, by emailing opposing counsel and threatened your husband you will feel better…and you likely lost the benefit of all the data because you allowed the lawyer to tip off your husband that he has bad facts to overcome.

Emotionally intelligent lawyers see the forest through the trees and effectively save you from your emotions, while at the same time advancing your effectively strategized case towards a successful resolution. Sophisticated, emotionally intelligent representation can be lulling your husband to sleep with false confidence, only to trap him in his lies at mediation or trial.

That is effective, and even aggressive, representation and is done at the highest level by very few attorneys.

There is nothing worse than lining up a narcissist with his own words/actions/behaviors only to see this leverage disappear because a lawyer was lazy, greedy or both.

The post The Secret to Hiring an Effective Attorney:  Emotional Intelligence appeared first on Divorced Moms.

Read More –>

custody dispute

Why I Used a Paralegal Instead Of an Attorney During a Custody Dispute

custody dispute

 

When I moved to a new state and my ex showed up after 3 years of not seeing our children with a lawyer and a petition for custody of our younger son, I was lost. I was also broke, with no money to hire an attorney.

Being unfamiliar with the laws and procedures of my new state, I started doing my homework. I also began to worry because a custody case was far more legally treacherous than anything I’d done on my own before. I knew I needed help making sure I was filing the appropriate paperwork with the appropriate court.

Why I Used a Paralegal Instead Of an Attorney During a Custody Dispute

I found out, via my own personal experience, that a paralegal can be a valuable asset if you are not using an attorney. If you’re going through a divorce, but don’t want to break the bank, you might be asking yourself, can I use a paralegal instead of a divorce attorney? In most states, it is legal to use the services of a certified paralegal to help with the paperwork generated by the divorce process.

In some states independent paralegals have been given legal right to serve as “legal document preparers,” so if you have a motion to file or a petition to draw up, you are within your legal right to hire a paralegal.

Things Paralegals can do

Paralegals can legally prepare divorce forms for you, and they can tell you where those forms need to be filed. Paralegals can also tell you how to serve divorce forms to your spouse, and help you fill out state-specific forms for modifying child support or alimony.

Things Paralegals can’t do

Paralegals can’t give you legal advice. They also can’t go to court and advocate for you the same way a divorce attorney will. If you are experiencing a fairly simple, uncontested divorce, you can save money by using a paralegal instead of a divorce attorney.

If your divorce is highly conflicted, with issues such as a custody battle or large assets to split, a paralegal is not something you want to consider. Their knowledge of court procedure and state divorce laws are limited, which makes them less valuable in a high conflict situation.

How to Find a Paralegal

As with a divorce attorney, you should not contract with a paralegal without first doing research into their background. Check with your Better Business Bureau for any complaints, and ask prospective paralegals about their experience and education. Making sure your paralegal is qualified is imperative when using one in place of a divorce attorney.

Sometimes Paralegals Know More

If your divorce is highly conflicted with issues such as a custody battle or large assets to split a paralegal is not something you want to consider. Their knowledge of court procedure and state divorce laws are limited which makes them less valuable in a high conflict situation.

As with a divorce attorney, you should not contract with a paralegal without first doing research into his/her background. Check with your Better Business Bureau for any complaints. Ask about their experience and education. Experience and qualifications are imperative when choosing a paralegal!

In my case, the paralegal I found looked over the case paperwork, and help me get everything done appropriately for a small fee. Here is the kicker: My paperwork was in good order, and my ex’s attorney had filed the petition for custody with the wrong court.

Thanks to the paralegal, we slowed down the process a bit, and when I did show up in court, all of my documents were properly filed and in order. Help can come from unexpected places. If you aren’t able to hire an attorney but need to use the court to protect your legal rights, a paralegal can guide you through the process and alleviate a lot of stress and anxiety.

The post Why I Used a Paralegal Instead Of an Attorney During a Custody Dispute appeared first on Divorced Moms.

Read More –>

4 Tips For Hiring an Attorney During Divorce Mediation

4 Tips For Hiring an Attorney During Divorce Mediation

Hiring an attorney early on in the mediation process can be beneficial not only for educational purposes but also to help you make smart decisions during the mediation process.

The post 4 Tips For Hiring an Attorney During Divorce Mediation appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

Read More –>

Learning How to be a Better Attorney by Asking Questions

Learning How to be a Better Attorney by Asking Questions

It seems that clients’ chief complaints are a lack of prompt replies from their lawyers, and a lack of substantive, proactive communication.  Let’s take each of these subjects in turn. 

The post Learning How to be a Better Attorney by Asking Questions appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

Read More –>

4 Tips for Getting the Most from Your Attorney During Mediation

4 Tips for Getting the Most from Your Attorney During Mediation

Consulting with an attorney can be a valuable component of an effective divorce mediation process. This article describes how to maximize the benefit and minimize the cost of attorney support during mediation.

The post 4 Tips for Getting the Most from Your Attorney During Mediation appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

Read More –>

Divorce: What Your Divorce Attorney May Not Tell You

Divorce: What Your Divorce Attorney May Not Tell You

When you’re in Court be prepared for something unexpected and get comfortable being uncomfortable.

The post Divorce: What Your Divorce Attorney May Not Tell You appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

Read More –>