Lessons I learned with my family lawyer
Having a healthy level of expectations and understanding when working with a lawyer is essential. If you expect your lawyer to answer all of the small questions, sort out every little issue or document every concern, you will run up a massive bill. Equally, you may become a client that your lawyer doesn’t particularly enjoy working with. One day, the one time that you really need your lawyer, they may not prioritise calling you back because they think of you as ‘the boy who cried wolf’ and (rightly or wrongly) that you concern is blown out of proportion.
Rachael Scharrer, divorce expert and founder of DivorceAnswered.com.au shares the 5 lessons she learned in divorce, which are worthy for you to remember when working with your lawyer and navigating your separation:
- You are not the lawyer’s only client. Everyone thinks that their case is the most important with their family lawyer. Unbeknown to each client, your lawyer may be preparing for final hearings, interim hearings, conciliation or urgent orders and these are the immediate priority to your (often smaller) concerns
- When needed make third party reports. Report your concerns to the police, psychologist, GP or other professional. They can be relied upon as evidence in your case if and when required
- If you can tolerate the abuse, document and persist. When your ex-spouse is acting out becomes current and relevant evidence. Court bases it’s assessments on current evidence. If you silence your ex-spouse, then you won’t have noteworthy evidence. Tolerate what you can personally, protect the children and make sure that when it is too much, you report to the appropriate authorities and/or your lawyer
- Pick and choose your battles. Work out what your priorities are in the divorce and make them your focus. Complaining about everything that your ex-spouse does dilutes your primary concerns
- Make their job easier. You can help your lawyer and make their job easier by being proactive, prepared and organised. Don’t assume that you lawyer knows exactly what you want or what you are thinking. Be specific when asking for anything from your lawyer. Putting your requests, concerns and other items in writing will also minimise any knowledge lost in translation or miscommunication. This can also help to manage your legal fees and helps your lawyer who is juggling many clients
Remember, your lawyer is the one who will be acting on your behalf and fighting for you. Your lawyer wants to be able to provide you with the best outcome possible and it is your job to make it as simple and easy as possible for them.