By Randall M. Kessler
Tip 1. Help your lawyer help you.
Lawyers do not “know it all” and they certainly do not know you or your spouse. In fact, you probably know your spouse as well as anyone. So give your lawyer suggestions as to how to get through to your spouse. Does your spouse like to feel in charge? Does he or she love to win? If so, tell your lawyer so you can perhaps settle the case by “letting your spouse feel in charge or like they won”.
Tip 2. Make sure your lawyer has all the facts.
Write out as detailed a history of your marriage as you can. Your lawyer may not remember it all, but it will be very valuable for your lawyer to be able to review it just before a big event like mediation, deposition or trial. Try this form for starters (click here).
Tip 3. Keep your divorce a priority.
If your lawyer needs you, be available. Not being available to discuss your case, or to mediate or to meet with an expert witness (accountant, psychologist) will send a message to your lawyer and maybe others, including evaluators like a Guardian for the child, or even a judge, that you are too good for the case or too busy. That’s a bad impression to give.
Tip 4. Spite will hurt, not help.
Resist the urge to be spiteful and to win every little battle. Yes divorce is painful, but do your best to focus on the big picture. What is your top priority? Keep mindful of it. If it is ending the marriage quickly, then be sure to remember that while you forego money you might otherwise be entitled to. And resist the urge to “rub it in” if you get a good result in court or by agreement. That goes back to part of tip number one, letting your spouse feel like they won.
Tip 5. Get regular “check-ups”.
By scheduling regular meetings with your lawyer (monthly?) you will force your lawyer to pay more attention to your case. While most lawyers will keep your case on track, when you set an appointment with them, they will focus more on your case to be able to give you direction and to discuss strategy. Face to face is almost always best so that each of you can gauge facial expressions, and the meeting takes on more importance.
And finally, a bonus tip:
Bonus Tip: Read up
Read books, magazines, blogs, FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) on your lawyer’s site and on others and anything else that helps you prepare. Who knows, you may come up with a good idea your lawyer hasn’t thought of (mediation, late case evaluation, arbitration, special master, bifurcated trial, etc.). I’m not embarrassed to say that clients have made good suggestions to me for their own cases. It should be a joint effort.