Saturday, February 1, 2020

How to Choose a Good Collaborative Attorney for You


Once you have researched or gotten some suggestions for a possible Collaborative attorney for your divorce (or other legal issue), you need to meet with the candidate or candidates and decide which is the right one for you.

When you make an appointment to meet with the attorneys, you should plan ahead  what you want to discuss and what you are looking for. Here are some suggestions.

1.  Ask about their experience.  How long have they been doing Collaborative cases?
  • When did they start doing Collaborative cases?
  • Why do they like Collaborative Law?
  • How many Collaborative cases have they had?
  • How much training have they attended?
  • How they spoken at seminars or Collaborative meetings?
  • Are they active in Collaborative Law organizations?
  • Have they handled cases like yours in the Collaborative process?
If they have not handled many cases or been to much training, they may try to talk you out of using Collaborative Law. That's usually a sign that they are not sincere about using Collaborative Law. Try someone else.

2.  Ask about their view on Collaborative Law.  If they claim to use Collaborative but don't believe your case would be appropriate, get a second opinion. Unfortunately, some attorneys say they do Collaborative Law, but haven't been trained. Those attorneys try to draw in business and then switch clients to litigation. If an attorney says Collaborative Law is his or her first preference, that is probably a good choice.

3.  Talk about the cost for attorneys and the process.  Collaborative cases can actually save you some money, compared to costs for litigation with big fights. Having a child specialist do the preliminary work with the parents on a parenting plan is much cheaper and a better result than having two attorneys working on it simultaneously. Likewise, delegating the preliminary financial work to a single financial professional produces a better product at a smaller cost than a litigation  approach with formal discovery.

4.  Keep in mind that neither process is "cheap".  If you have significant issues, there is no bargain rate possible in any legal process.  Still, you can reduce the costs somewhat by working together as a Collaborative team.

5.  Your most important consideration:  Chemistry.
  • Make sure you feel comfortable with your attorney.
  • You need someone who listens to you well.
  • The attorney should be able to communicate well and explain things to you.
Pay attention to your gut feeling about working with the attorney.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

How to Find Information on Collaborative Attorneys


Getting Started
If you are facing divorce and either you or your spouse became interested in the Collaborative divorce process, one of your first tasks is to find a Collaborative attorney to represent and assist you.

Where to Find Names
Typically, your introduction comes from researching the Internet, receiving a referral from a friend or trusted professional or from a list of suggested names of nearby Collaborative attorneys. That can come from your spouse who may have met with a Collaborative attorney or from an attorney suggesting the names.

Get Local Information
It is getting easier to find information online about the process and about Collaborative lawyers in your area.  Make sure your searches are limited to your area. California and Texas Collaborative practitioners have some differences in how they handle cases. Be sure when you do online searches that you add in your state and city or county so you can get information and referrals that fit your situation.

What if You Get a List of Names
If your spouse goes first to see a Collaborative attorney, he or she may leave with a list of trained and active Collaborative attorneys who could be good attorneys for you to choose from.
  • That's a good thing. It does not mean that the attorneys would work against you because they are friends with the first attorney. 
  • The list is probably good attorneys who have a history of working well with the first attorney. That's good for you because it improves your chances of getting your case peacefully settled.
  • Many times, lawyers are members of a "practice group" of attorneys and other professionals who are well trained, experienced and dedicated to helping clients divorce peacefully while protecting their rights.
Can You Use Someone Not on a List?
Of course, but you want to make sure they are trained and they would be a good fit for you.

The Next Step
When you have some attorneys' names, do some research online and learn something about each one. Then you need to meet them.

For tips on choosing a good Collaborative lawyer, please see my next blog post for February 1, 2020.


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Are You Ready for Divorce?


Everyone has to decide on his or her own whether they are ready for divorce -- unless their spouse takes the first step and files. In that case, there must be a response.

But, let's talk about the situation where you are trying to decide whether to file for divorce.  How do you really decide?

First, you should think it through and not just react on impulse.  There are good reasons to file, in some cases. But there are also bad reasons to file.You need to keep things in perspective. Maybe you're mad or disappointed about something. You have to decide if it is the last straw or if it's something that's not such a big deal on second thought. Unless it's a safety issue, let a little time pass before you commit to filing. Think it over.

Second, talk with a counselor. You may need an outside perspective. A good counselor can help you think about things in different ways and put them in context. Maybe you have been in denial and you should file. Maybe an event was not so terrible once things calmed down. A counselor may be able to help you figure out other ways, short of divorce, to deal with the situation.

Third, consider talking with trusted friends or family members.  Another point of view from someone who knows and cares about you can be very helpful.  They may help you solidify your resolution to act or not act. Sharing the emotional load will also help with your stress level.

Here are some Cons to consider when trying to decide whether to divorce:

1.  Divorce will disrupt family relationships. That may seem obvious, but keep in mind that relations with many other people will be affected and you may lose out on friendships with members of your spouse's family.  If there are children involved, their lives will be changed in many ways. Transitions are often difficult after divorce.

2.  Financial difficulties are common. It's difficult to run two households on the funds that had been used to pay the bills for just one. It has to be done, but there are normally cutbacks. You may have a hard time until the finances are figured out.

3.  You need to be emotionally ready.  Try to think and plan for the changes ahead. You will probably be lonely, mad and worried at different times. You will have a lot of adjustments to make.

Here are some Pros for filing.

1.  You may be  leaving an unpleasant or unsafe relationship. It may be hard to take the step, but it will be worth it in most cases. You need to protect yourself and your children.

2.  You may have just drifted apart. You may be leaving a relationship where you don't hate or dislike each other. With a divorce, you will both be better off and have a chance for a better relationship.

3.  If your spouse has started a new relationship, you need to move on, too.  You have to face facts. There's very little chance of reconciliation when a new significant other is in place.

What's the best thing you can do to help decide whether to file for divorce? 

Go see an experienced family law attorney.  Together, you should be able to come to a decision.

By the way, a good attorney will sometimes advise you to wait a while before filing. 

So, think it over. Talk it over. Take some time, if you can. Consider the advantages and disadvantages to you. Then make your decision and stay with it. If you want to stay together, you should get counseling since you have been this close to divorce.

Good Luck!