Facing Divorce?

By Catherine Stuckart

If you are faced with divorce, realize right now that you may be living with the emotional and legal consequences of that for the rest of your life.  This is a highly sensitive experience, and usually not a pleasant one, especially when you have children.

Perhaps you are the one seeking to start a divorce.  You may have good reasons for your decision.  Your position when children and property are involved is different depending on whether you are the husband or the wife.  While gender roles are blurring with the movement of women into the job market, there still exist many differences.

If you are the husband, you still may be the primary breadwinner, or, at least, earn more than your wife.  You may very likely feel you do not want to support your ex with your hard-earned money.  You may also want an equal share in raising your children.  You could be in for some unwelcome legal results.

If you are the wife, you may be stepping into a much lower financial lifestyle.  You probably want to have the primary say in how your children are nurtured, especially very young children.  There, again, you may not like the final result.

If you are the one being divorced, you will also be dealing with the emotions that come from feeling rejected in a major relationship.  You may feel afraid of a suddenly uncertain future.  If you are the wife, know that having a lawyer to represent you may be crucial to your well-being.  Even if you cannot afford a lawyer, many times, the judge will award you legal fees to be paid by your ex-husband.

If you are the husband being divorced by your wife, you, too, need legal representation.  You may be more able to afford an attorney than your wife.  It is still going to be a financial burden, maybe for decades to come.  You could become just a visitor in your children’s lives.

In any event, you will be faced with choosing an attorney.  This may be your first encounter with the legal system.  First of all, it is generally advisable for each spouse to have separate representation.  I have seen a divorce turn out really badly for one spouse when the couple only hire one attorney.

Your comfort level with your lawyer will become more and more important as you get deeper into the divorce proceedings.  Often, you will come to hate your attorney, especially if, like 65% of the American population, you retain the first lawyer you interview.  You may not understand what is going on.  You may want to find another lawyer to represent you.  That can be an expensive switch.

If you want to find your attorney by yourself, there are many online resources.  These range from directories that give you the names and contact information for attorneys in your area to lawyer websites that go into more detail.  Offline resources include recommendations by family and friends. Many people turn to Bar Associations for referrals.  Just be sure to select your lawyer with the care it-and you-deserve.

Comments, questions, and suggestions for future blog topics are welcome.

Dangers of Amateur Lawyer Selection

A woman I know chose a divorce lawyer for the first time.  Seven thousand dollars later, she realized that she had no idea what was going on with her divorce.  She only heard from her attorney when he wanted more money.  This woman very badly wanted to find another lawyer.  She stayed with the same lawyer because she was afraid it would cost her big to start with another attorney.

Over the decades I have been evaluating attorneys’ work, I have seen many times where the choice of lawyer by a layperson has turned out badly for that person.  People have this blind trust in their lawyers in large part because those clients simply are not knowledgeable about attorneys.  The sad fact is that 65 percent of the time, folks go with the first lawyer they see.

Being thrust into a legal situation where you must find a lawyer is very stressful.  There is more information on lawyers out there these days, but it can be difficult to master the legal field and what a lawyer’s credentials mean.  Typically, you are feeling pressure inside and outside of yourself to choose quickly. This is especially true when it is your first time picking legal help.

The hard truth is that finding the best lawyer for your case requires knowledge and skills you may not have.  For example, many lawyer websites are written in fairly legal language.  How are you supposed to know what an attorney’s qualifications mean?  And lawyer websites are not always up to date.  They may also not be very specific about the attorney’s successful experience with your specific kind of case.

I started the Lawyer Find Center because I want to help laypeople who need to engage an attorney find the right one.  You can learn something about choosing a lawyer by surfing the net.  However, information about particular lawyers is difficult to come by.  You are an outsider to the legal profession.  I have been an insider to the legal profession for decades.  Please let me guide you in this challenging process of lawyer selection.

Also, and this is important, please send me your stories, questions and comments.  This website is intended to be interactive.  Your responses are what do that.  You can help yourself, and maybe others in your situation, by writing me.  Thank you!