It is very common for attorneys to provide guidance on how to choose the best divorce attorney, but rarely ever are there posts directed at current or future clients regarding how to be the perfect divorce client. In fact, if you are reading this post as a client (or potential client), you may be wondering: Why should I care about how to be the perfect client? Well, the simplest answer to this question is that attorneys are people too, even divorce attorneys. With that said, taking the time to be nice and easy to work with is one way to get your attorney to go the extra mile for you and your case.
Be nice. Divorce is hard, but it doesn’t have to be nasty. This principle goes not only to your interaction with your soon to be ex-spouse, but it also relates to your interactions with your attorney and his or her staff. Divorce is hard and it’s stressful, but taking your frustrations out on your attorney is simply counterproductive.
Follow the rules. If a judge orders you to do something, please do it. Although you may disagree about the amount of temporary child support or alimony a court orders you to pay, if you ignore a court’s orders, a court may enforce its orders via a contempt citation. Once you get a reputation for failing to abide by a court’s orders, it will be very hard for your attorney to rehabilitate you in the eyes of the judge.
Take our advice. Surgeons are experts in anatomy and medicine, accountants are experts in financial matters, and attorneys are experts in the law. That’s why you hired us. So, when your attorney advises you concerning the law and what it requires, take their advice.
Be honest. As an attorney, there is nothing worse than finding out an important fact or detail about your client from a source other than your client. If you have information relevant to your case, even if its negative information, such as in instance of adultery on your part, it is much better to tell your attorney up front, so that you and your attorney can develop an appropriate action plan.
Give us the paperwork. Trust us, if we ask for certain documents, we need them. Whether it’s financial documents or documents regarding home and property ownership, your divorce attorney is only asking for these documents because we need these items to accurately assess your case and to complete forms and documents necessary for your divorce.
Be reasonable. It is highly likely that you will not agree with every settlement offer your estranged spouse makes. However, this disagreement does not give you license to make unreasonable demands in return. The majority of divorce and child custody matters are resolved by settlement agreement, not by trial. With that said, the more willing you are to compromise and negotiate with your estranged spouse, the greater the chances that you both will come to a mutually agreeable settlement.
Don’t ignore your bill. Divorce can be expensive, especially if it proceeds to trial. This is not only due to attorney’s fees, but also due to the other costs associated with divorce, such as fees for expert testimony, interim child support payments and alimony payments, and other legal fees. This financial pressure can be overwhelming, but it is important not to ignore your attorney’s bill. Maintaining open communication with your attorney regarding fees is a good way to monitor costs and ensure you have consistent representation throughout your case. If you are having trouble paying your legal fees, let your attorney know. Many lawyers are willing to work out payment agreements with amiable clients.