A divorce is an emotional process. It is not easy to terminate a marriage, no matter how ready you are. You want an attorney with integrity and professionalism who will work to make sure that your, and your childrens, best interests are represented during your divorce proceedings.
It is important that you hire the attorney you are most comfortable with and who you feel will best represent your interests. Once you hire your attorney, she will work with you so that you are comfortable during the process. She will be able to file and serve the legal documents necessary in order to obtain a favorable outcome. Your attorney will also be able to receive documents on your behalf and will explain to you what each step of the process requires.
Does it Matter Who Initiated the Divorce?
In Minnesota where I practice, it does not matter which party initiated that divorce. Each party is subject to the same obligations and entitled to the same results. If there are no issues in dispute and neither party wishes to contest the divorce, the divorce may be completed in as little as a few weeks. If, however, there are any issues that are disputed, such as child custody or property division or settlement issues, the process will take longer.
If You are Starting the Divorce Process
If you are initiating the divorce proceedings, your attorney will draft a divorce petition to be served on the other party. If the other party has initiated the divorce, your attorney will receive service on your behalf and respond to the petition. By discussing your needs and your goals, your attorney will know how to best respond to the requests in the petition and be in a position to identify those issues that are in dispute.
The Collaborative Option
A collaborative divorce means that you and your attorney would work with the opposing party and attorney outside of the courtroom in order to resolve the issues in your divorce. If you know that your case will work without being contested by either party, this would be an excellent way to work through the issues. When the parties find themselves in a dispute, they would negotiate in order to come to the best terms. By agreeing to refrain for filing motions for the court to decide an issue, the divorce process can become less antagonistic. You and your attorney will work with the opposing party in mediation or other alternative dispute methods in order to work through contested issues so that the solution is a positive outcome for both parties.
Your Lawyer-Client Relationship
It is important to have a positive relationship with your attorney, because you will be making decisions that affect your legal and financial rights for the rest of your life. You will need to be honest and forthcoming so that your attorney can guide you according to the law. If you have a child custody issue, you will need to set out your expectations and concerns so that your attorney can present them succinctly and carefully to the court or in mediation or collaboration in order to negotiate an outcome that takes into account the best interests of the children.
Financial Information for Your Attorney
You will need to present your attorney with a factual record of your finances. Your attorney will need tax returns, account statements and credit card statements in order to determine property distribution. If there was a prenuptial agreement signed by both parties this would need to be given to your attorney, as well, so that the terms would be adhered to once it was determined to be valid.
Paying Your Divorce Lawyer
Your attorney will bill you hourly for her fee. The longer and more involved the case, the higher the fees. If your divorce is resolved relatively quickly, your fee will be lower.
Benefits of Professional Legal Representation
By working with your attorney, you will be able to feel empowered about the decision you are making during this tumultuous time in your life. Understanding that your attorney is knowledgeable and an expert in her field will enable you to follow her guidance. She will offer you quality service and you can expect exceptional representation from someone who has your best interests at heart.