Working with an Attorney

When working with an attorney it is important to remember several very important facts. Remember, your attorney works for you and wants you to succeed in your cause.

However, to succeed, your attorney must have all of the information available to him or her. Only then does your attorney and for that matter, you, stand the best chance of success.

  1. Your divorce is a business transaction. Therefore do not use 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 to you in the long run. Typically, attorneys charge for every minute that you communicate with them, regardless of the topic.
  2. Your attorney is not the decision maker. Your attorney will advise you on your rights, strategy and procedures. But you make all the decisions.
  3. Work with your attorney, not against him or her. Although at times it is difficult to act in a rational manner because of the emotions involved, you must try to always remain businesslike and act wisely. Do not make any decision while under stress. Wait until you are calm and can think rationally before making any major decisions.
  4. Be Honest. Your attorney might ask you many blunt questions. Do not give half-truths. They will only complicate matters and cost you more in the long run. Your attorney is not trying to find out who is right and who is wrong or who is the better person. He/she is trying to get as much accurate information about the case to get you the best settlement possible.
  5. Ask Questions. If you don't know the meaning of a legal term or any legal procedure, ASK. This is your divorce. You must live with the outcome, so don't be afraid to ask any question. You need to understand everything that is going on so you can make the best decisions possible. So, if you don't understand something at first, ask again. If you are not getting answers from your attorney ask why not!
  6. If there is something that is to be kept confidential between you and your attorney, let your attorney know that up front. Your attorney will be communicating with your spouse's attorney, the court and any representatives of the court, therefore make sure you tell him/her that information is kept confidential between your and him or her.
  7. Be prepared before going to see your attorney. Be prepared to explain to the attorney why you want the divorce and how you came to your decision. You should also have the following ready:
    • 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 they are in
    • Information on any other investments including stocks & bonds
    • Real Estate holdings - purchase date, purchase price, mortgage balance, current value
    • Information about your and your spouse's jewelry, art work and valuable collections
    • Pensions - whose, the value of the pension and when they start paying
    • Debts - list all money owed, to whom, account numbers, when they were incurred, when they are due, whose name are they in
    • Health insurance costs for all family members
    • Educational and employment background of you and your spouse. List any special skills and/or potential employment.
    • A statement of assets and liabilities
    • Any other financial matter or situation not covered above
  8. Following these guidelines will help to ensure open communication with your attorney and provide him or her with all of tools necessary to present a case to the Court.