By Joshua Rieger
One of the most trying times of your life can be when you’re faced with the end of a marriage. It’s a time when you may feel lonely, angry, desperate or unsure of yourself.
One thing is sure—you need help, and plenty of it. The divorce process in itself can be overwhelming to figure out how to choose the right legal help. Take a deep breath (and then a few more) and set some priorities.
First consider how you want to come out the other side of this process. What are your life goals? Is your goal to punish your spouse, or do you instead wish to rationally separate your assets and set up a plan for raising children? Do you have children with your soon-to-be ex-spouse? Do you or your soon to be ex-spouse have any ownership interest in a business?
Lawyers and firms have different styles and different philosophies on how to handle cases and how to treat clients. A good lawyer will take a long view and preserve options in case a fight comes later. Searching “Best Divorce Lawyer” on Google may only lead to those who pay for leads rather than put their times and energy into building their practices and winning cases.
There are three things that you may want to focus on:
1. Hire a lawyer who will listen to you. Make sure your attorney is trying your case, and not just doing what he or she has always done. Every case is different, and you want to make sure the things that are important to you are heard and taken care of.
2. Make sure your lawyer is clear on where you want to end up. Your lawyer must have the skills to assess the situation as it is now and have a strategy to get to your goal. And you need to know what the plan is. You need to have someone that helps you see the forest through the trees.
3. Your lawyer should be honest with you, including about your expectations. Part of being honest is giving you bad news clearly and letting you know when what you want isn’t going to work out. There’s no point in a lawyer promising you the world if those promises are impossible to keep.
Obviously, consider things like experience, reputation and cost. For some divorcing couples, mediation may make more sense than a costly, contested trial. Inquire about those things when you meet lawyers for the first time. You don’t want more surprises to further complicate your life.
Joshua Rieger is a matrimonial attorney with Rieger, LLP in Garden City