Supporting your Family Lawyer
While your family lawyer will play a leadership role in helping you through your Divorce, you and your family lawyer will become partners. As such, there are many things that you can do to optimize both the process and, ultimately, the outcome of your Divorce.
Four Key Ways to Support your Family Lawyer
Providing quality, complete information. Divorce is traumatic, and it’s understandably hard for you to focus on “just the facts,” when so much seems to be changing in your life. However, as challenging as this is, it’s essential that you try and provide you family lawyer with the right information. It’s important to make a distinction between “quality” and “complete” here, as they are two separate things (both work together). “Quality” information means that which is relevant to your Divorce. “Complete” information means that you don’t withhold facts or details. You don’t want these coming out in court!
Be prepared to listen to your family lawyer. Ultimately, you — and not your family lawyer — will make decisions during your Divorce. However, it’s the duty of your family lawyer to help you make the wisest decisions possible. To help make that happen, it’s vital that you listen to your family lawyer, even if he or she tells you something that you don’t want to hear. For example, you may want to seek revenge on a cheating spouse by preventing him or her from seeing your kids. However, legally, this may be possible in the eyes of the courts. You do yourself a long-term favour by listening to your lawyer and considering the objective advice that you receive.
Respect your family lawyer’s role. As noted above, Divorce is a difficult and emotional time. As such, some clients may unintentionally/inevitably start to see their family lawyer as a therapist or life coach. This is a mistake for a couple of big reasons. Firstly, your family lawyer isn’t trained to provide this kind of help, and so really can’t be of benefit to you in this way. Secondly, even if your family lawyer tries to provide some support in this way, he or she is going to bill you hundreds of dollars more an hour than a trained therapist or life coach. Ultimately, one of the wisest things you and your family lawyer (as a partnership) can do is help you connect with a trained professional (e.g. therapist, psychologist, coach, etc.) who can support you during this time.
Get the services of a Financial Professional if you need one. While we’ve discussed how not to rely on your family lawyer as a therapist or coach, it’s important to highlight another role that your family lawyer cannot and does not want to play: financial professional. Indeed, your family lawyer is a legal expert who understands and has experience with the legal issues affecting your Divorce. However, you may also have financial issues that require additional expertise. For example, you and your spouse may have complex assets (retirement savings, property, businesses, etc.). Or you may be concerned that your spouse is hiding or under-reporting assets, or not assuming their fair share of debt. These are issues that only a certified Divorce financial professional should help you with; especially if arguments on your behalf need to be presented in court.
At the Forensic Accounting Offices of Cathleen Collinsworth, Cathleen will work with you and your family lawyer to provide the financial expertise that your Divorce requires. Cathleen is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®) and a Master Analyst in Financial Forensics (MAFF®) specializing in Litigation, practicing forensic accounting with over 12 years of experience.