Every attorney-client relationship and case share similarities. With divorce, this is no less the case. However, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys observe divorces are often based on or laced with non-legal matters, such as the sense of loss of the marriage and fear of an unknown future. Or pure rage.
Attorneys are all over the board on how they handle non-legal matters. Some, as with a horse with blinders, leave these components to therapists or the religious establishment to deal with. Other attorneys completely identify with their clients and take on their emotional state. Most fall somewhere in between lawyer and “therapist.”
No approach is necessarily better than the other. Your legal and non-legal needs may, and probably will, guide you to counsel who can balance these needs in a way that is effective. Nevertheless, we find that in most situations, effective advocates need answers to four (4) key questions in order to assess your case.
You may want discuss these with your counsel to obtain an overview of your case now and where it will be in the future. We hope they are educational and helpful in your situation:
1. What is the Dynamic?
This may seem like a silly-to-basic question to first-timers (divorcing) or non-lawyers looking in from the outside. However, it is anything but that. The most skilled lawyer, seasoned judge, and reasonable counsel will make little difference if the dynamic is out of balance. A bitter spouse reeling from an affair may not see a lifestyle post divorce.
Unfortunately, in these cases, the litigation itself--and in isolation of everything else-- may become the lynchpin of the litigation. In other words, the bitter or unreasonable spouse may be as concerned, more concerned, or only focused on inflicting pain on the other. There is no provision of the Dissolution Act that prohibits these.
In these cases, they go on for a long time, with two (2) frustrated attorneys and at least one (1) litigant, who wants nothing more than a divorce. Every trivial and non-material legal detail becomes important, critical and consumes more time (and legal fees) than it is worth.
This becomes the means the bitter spouses uses to heal, if at all. Is this your case? If so, you need to have a frank and forth right conversation with your attorney about what you expect. This will allow an accurate assessment of the time and cost your case may take. This is important for attorney and client.
The client needs to hear reality–it will not be fast or inexpensive and there is nothing the legal system can do to remedy this. And you need to know your attorney is willing to take on a case much more stressful and time consuming than any other. It is this baseline understanding that will aid in helping you both through the times you doubt each other.
2. Who is the Opposing Counsel?
As with every other relationship in life, attorney-to-attorney varies. This may range from unknown where their lawyers have not had cases against each other before. In others, the attorneys may have a good professional rapport. With divorce in particular, opposites seem to attract. This is not good or bad, but a reflection of the bruised and battered attorneys who ply the domestic relations waters.
Nevertheless, this is a prudent question to be asked by the client or disclosed by the attorney at the initial stage of representation. Why so? Opposing counsels, who have a cordial relationship, may send the wrong message to either litigant when they acknowledge each other, or the court does, at an initial hearing or later.
The view that such relationship may equate to shortfalls in the advocacy sometimes causes a client to perceive every outcome in litigation to be more or less than it is. On the other hand, where two (2) counsels cannot agree on even mundane issues, this may be exactly what the client needs or does not want to move forward.
This is not wrong, right, or in between. However, make no mistake the legal aspect of a divorce usually takes a back seat in the process. In the final analysis, you need a skilled advocate you believe in to guide you to the finish line, which in divorce is getting a divorce. This is critical to accepting the reality: a divorce is about getting a less bad outcome.
If this discussion leaves you, the client, and/or the attorney uncomfortable, it may be the wrong attorney-client relationship fit. Consider this carefully. You will inherently have self-doubt. Where coupled with true concerns about the abilities of your counsel, this is a recipe for more post-divorce scarring.
3. What Court is it In?
Judges, magistrates, and commissioners also factor into divorce chemistry. The question at hand is who will hear and decide the case, if this can be determined. This variable too is not correct or incorrect or good or bad. Instead, it is one of the innumerable considerations in each and every divorce.
For instance, a judge who has just finished up a lengthy trial on financial liability may possess unique insight to a complex asset case–if this is your case. All of these variables are just that, variables, and the more they are considered, the more likely the outcome is to be consistent with your objectives. If this question is not contained within your initial colloquy, it is one that might be posited.
4. Are There Any Dates?
For the most part, effective and successful divorce attorneys are busy people. Uniquely, they have the staying power to hear, handle, and litigate hard cases every day of their professional lives. As such, it takes each serious deliberation to take on a case with an immediately set court date.
The lot of us want to help you maximize your best day in court. However, the lack of time to be more fully prepared is something we all take seriously. Perfect legal execution in an emergency case may still fall short. Thus, if you have an imminent date, you should relay this to potential counsel at your first opportunity.
With this, a full discussion about the limits this places on the client’s case, the attorney or otherwise should be explored. You deserve this as a divorce litigant. However, to accomplish this, a soon-to-be date needs to be topic one of any discussion with proposed counsel. If he or she is leaving on vacation or the office is going on a retreat, this may not be a good legal fit.
At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. we trust you will find this blog post and its initial queries in selection of a divorce attorney helpful in your circumstance. It is not overstated to relay that the determination of divorce counsel is almost as important as the decision you made when you married. Certainly, it is just as critical moving on in life. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys practice throughout the State of Indiana.