One of the biggest misconceptions many people seem to have is that once you start the divorce process, there is no way to stop it; they ask me if they should decide to reconcile, to which my response is always, “of course.” They’re masters of their own destiny, and if at any time they decide they don’t want to continue with the divorce, they can send me a letter and I’ll put a note in the file and do nothing further on the case until I hear from them. I do that just to protect ourselves.
Another misconception is that once the couple files, they can’t talk to one another, whereas I strongly encourage all my clients to try to keep an open dialogue with their soon-to-be ex-spouse. The more items that they can resolve on their own without divorce attorney intervention, the cheaper it will be to complete the divorce. It is better for them to try to reach as many agreements as many as possible, although whether that happens will depend on how contentious the divorce is; some parties are unable to talk without fighting, but for those who can, I encourage them to try.
The more issues and conflict the parties can resolve on their own, the better off everyone will be in the long run, because they are making the decisions. As long as they’re comfortable with that, it’s better. Although some clients need to run everything by the attorney and that’s fine, too. A lot of it depends on the dynamic of the relationship.
Sometimes I have women clients who have been completely beaten down verbally; they’ve been abused verbally, been condescended towards by their husbands and they have no self-esteem and can’t make a decision on their own. In that scenario, attorneys are available to talk to them and help them out. Absent that type of a situation, though, the parties are better off trying to resolve the issues amongst themselves and their attorneys if they can, rather than have a judge who spent two-and-a-half minutes on your file make the decision for you.
No-contact orders arise when one of the parties has gotten a domestic violence restraining order against the other party. The no-contact orders prevent one party or the other from contacting the other party to harass, molest, stalk and engaging in any type of behavior that is harassing in nature. No-contact orders are granted when there’s a problem with one of the parties harassing the other party.
Judges don’t hand these things out like candy; there has to be a very good reason or reasons for it; the person making the claims and signing it is actually testifying under oath and under penalty of perjury that this person is disrupting your life.
To find a good divorce lawyer who is worthy of hiring, I think you need to interview a few attorneys and figure out which ones you can have a good dialogue with. Many of the problems I’ve heard over the years have to do with attorneys being hard to reach and hard to communicate with; they’re always talking to his paralegal or someone else. I don’t run my office like that; while I do have a paralegal and an office manager, I return calls and talk with my clients. If they want to talk to me about something, I typically return my phone calls within 24 hours of getting them, if not sooner. Typically, the only delay comes when I’m in court.
A good divorce attorney worthy of hiring is someone who is responsive to your needs, answers your questions and provides you with the legal work that needs to be done in your case. I emphasize the legal work that needs to be done in your case and not just work that can be done but is not necessary. Many attorneys out there do a lot of unnecessary work and just try to make attorney’s fees. I’m not that attorney; I’m straightforward and I like to get things done quickly.
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