If someone is in the market for a divorce lawyer, chances are they have bigger things on their mind than doing a full background check on the lawyer they’re considering hiring. At McCurley Orsinger McCurley Nelson & Downing, we believe that the best relationships are built on honesty and communication, so in the interest of full disclosure, here are eight things most divorce lawyers won’t tell their clients (but we will):
1. Family law isn’t a hobby.
Lots of lawyers advertise that they handle divorces. And bankruptcies. And write wills. And defend DWIs. And anything else that requires a law degree. If you’re getting a divorce, hire a lawyer who just does divorce. They will be more efficient, proficient and cost-effective.
2. You’re more financially complex than you think you are (so you need a divorce lawyer with money smarts).
These days, just about everybody has investments, a mortgage and some debt. Ensuring that those assets and liabilities are handled equitably requires a lawyer with more than basic math skills. Make sure the lawyer you hire can read a spreadsheet as well as they can argue in court.
3. Life after divorce isn’t always financially rosy.
For many divorcees, divorce means living on less money. That can be difficult, but for many people, it’s an acceptable trade-off. However, a skillful divorce lawyer can help mitigate that by securing an equitable share of the marital assets and so you can start the next chapter of your life in the black.
4. There are no guarantees.
Any lawyer who promises you a particular outcome — whether it’s a particular division of the assets, custody or some other result — is skating on thin ice, ethically and legally. We can do our best to achieve a successful outcome, but just like a doctor can’t promise you’ll be cured, no lawyer can or should promise a particular result.
5. Consider hiring a therapist.
Divorce is unquestionably a tough time for all involved. Although a good lawyer can also be a good sounding board, if you find yourself spending more time with her talking about your feelings than your legal issues, it’s time to enlist the aid of a qualified therapist. Most experienced lawyers can refer you to a good one.
6. There is no such thing as a “discount divorce.”
When we see ads for divorce lawyers who claim to complete a divorce for a ridiculously low sum of money, we just shake our heads and sigh. Either the lawyer is doing a bait and switch or is doing poor work. Even a relatively simple divorce needs to be handled with care. That doesn’t have to break the bank, but it’s definitely going to cost more than a week’s worth of groceries.
7. Beware the “franchise office” approach to family law.
Some big-name law firms claim to have an array of offices in the DFW area, giving clients the illusion that they have top-drawer family lawyers as close as their neighborhood coffee house. Unfortunately, those offices are only minimally staffed, and their clients miss out on the teamwork and collaboration that clients in the “home office” get. The collective expertise of seasoned family lawyers is an invaluable asset that shouldn’t be underestimated.
8. Not every divorce requires a lawyer.
It’s true. Where there are no conflicts, no children, no shared assets or debts, and no issues of continuing financial support, it’s feasible that a divorcing couple could handle their case on their own. Granted, that’s an exceedingly rare scenario, but if that describes your situation, you may not need to hire a lawyer.
If you’re about to hire a divorce lawyer, take the time to interview him or her and make sure you’re hiring someone who has both your best interests at heart and the skills to handle your case exceptionally well. Your lawyer is going to be your advocate during a difficult time, so it’s not a choice to be taken lightly.
For more information about the experienced attorneys at McCurley Orsinger, visit the firm’s website.