Now that you have made your decision and checked your financial picture, it’s time to get an attorney. It is important to hire the best attorney you can afford. If you are planning to divorce without an attorney, either by negotiating directly with your spouse or through a mediator, you should still hire an attorney. You may only need someone to inform you 0f your rights before mediation and then go over the divorce agreement with you before you sign. A divorce agreement is a complex document and will affect your rights and your children’s rights for a long time.
I have previously written at length about how to choose a divorce attorney and I won’t repeat that here. Instead, I want to write about the finances of choosing an attorney and the importance of understanding how attorneys charge and how you can handle things so you are maximizing the value of the services you are paying for.
Most attorneys charge by the hour. That means you pay your hard earned money for their time. DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY. Be careful of how you use that time. One of the reasons I suggested in this series that you see a therapist is that few attorneys are qualified to do therapy. Yet, the urge to talk over emotional matters at length with your divorce attorney seems hard to avoid. Therapists are better at this AND they are less expensive. Some discussion of emotional matters is appropriate, and indeed necessary, but generally a therapist is much better equipped.
Before you meet with your attorney, or call her, or email her, be sure you have a written list of points you want to raise and questions you need to ask. This will keep your communications focused and on point.
Make sure you get monthly itemized bills from the attorney. Go over these bills when you receive them and make sure the charges are correct. If you have a question or think a charge is wrong, don’t hesitate to ask. Remember, we work for you and it is never inappropriate to question.
Finally, listen to the advice your attorney gives you. You may not want to take it, but at least be sure you understand it.