If hiring a Charleston divorce lawyer is in your plans for 2016, here are 5 ways to maintain control of your case.

People often feel that they must acquiesce to whatever their divorce lawyer tells them to do. Nothing could be further from the truth: this is your life and when the case is over, your divorce lawyer will not be there to help you pick up the pieces of what remains.

I have been a trial lawyer for nearly 25 years. I have come to realize that much of family law litigation set in motion by divorce lawyers is unnecessary and, in my opinion, per se unethical. Here are 5 simple ways you can maintain control of your case if you plan to hire a Charleston divorce lawyer in 2016.

  1. Choose the right process: If you are not dealing with a psychopath, abuser or a person with significant mental health issues, hiring a trial lawyer is most likely the wrong choice. A trial lawyer only has one tool in their toolbox: scorched earth litigation. Litigation is an adversarial dispute resolution process. Trial lawyers present their case to a Judge or Jury through a cumbersome, lengthy AND PUBLIC litigation process and hope for the best. Most families who choose to divorce have done nothing wrong and simply are not getting along. If you are one of these families, consider non adversarial dispute resolution processes such as Collaborative Law  or Mediation  prior to initiating litigation. You will resolve your case in a respectful manner and your dignity will remain intact.
  2. Offer to pay a fixed fee to your Charleston divorce lawyer: If you pay a lawyer by the hour to solve a problem, do you really feel the lawyer will get your problem solved for you quickly and cost effectively? If you have chosen a non adversarial process like mediation or Collaborative Law, you may be able to negotiate a fixed fee (provided your spouses lawyer will do the same). With your Charleston divorce lawyer on a fixed fee, she or he will now have the exact opposite incentive: resolve the matter quickly and efficiently.
  3. Get organized: The less information your lawyer has to sort through and organize, the lower your costs. Technology can help: if your lawyer is good with technology (why would you hire a Charleston divorce lawyer in this day and age who is not good with technology?) and subscribes to a service such as settlyd.com, you will save loads of money on accountants and other financial professionals. You will need to get current statements ready for all of your financial and brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, credit card accounts and mortgages. You will also want to get current values on all of your assets, such as real property, auto’s, jewelry, art, etc. Do all of this before seeing your lawyer.
  4. Keep parenting issues out of court: Custody is a huge part of divorce litigation. Our children are only children for a short period of time and you don’t want those memories dominated by the litigation with your spouse. Use a Child Specialist  or therapist who works with divorcing families to help you create a parenting plan. Your children will be grown and gone very soon- don’t let your memories of these years be dominated by hating and fighting with their other parent.
  5. You are the customer: Remember that you are the customer and that your Charleston divorce lawyer works for you! Your lawyer should serve to provide you with a legal opinions based upon the facts of the case, set forth your options, and then YOU make the decision after being fully informed. To this end, make sure you approve everything that is sent out of the office on your case (again, you are the boss) and that you see everything that comes into the office on your case. It is your divorce and it is your responsibility to know what is going on. That way you can make the best decisions for your family as you move through the divorce process.

By following these simple steps you, not your divorce lawyer, a judge or Guardian ad Litem, will be in charge of your life. Move forward into the new year, and your new life, with peace and dignity.

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