What Does a Divorce Lawyer Actually Do? A Layman’s Guide
Going through a divorce is a stressful process and your lawyer will play an important role. You may want to consult with several attorneys order to find one that you feel most comfortable with. Each will have their own unique style so it’s important to be on the same page when it comes to your personality and expectations about the process. If you have a friendly relationship with your spouse but an attorney insists on moving forward with an aggressive strategy (or vice versa), it may be best to consult an attorney who is willing to work on your terms.
What Does a Divorce Lawyer Do?
Divorce lawyers handle a wide range of tasks, depending on the complexity of a case. Duties include helping to divide assets, settle child support and spousal support issues, and making child custody arrangements. Divorce attorneys are constantly drafting documents for their cases. This includes correspondence to clients and opposing counsel, motions such as temporary motions regarding custody, and replies to paperwork filed by opposing attorneys.
Your first meeting will likely be a consultation where you can expect the lawyer to ask you questions about your situation. He or she will then explain what you can expect throughout the process, including the pros and cons of various approaches to your case. After discussing all the possibilities, you will mutually finalize a game plan for the strategy that makes you the most comfortable. Don’t be surprised if your lawyer asks you to clarify details or provide information on various aspects of your marriage on an ongoing basis – this is a normal part of the process. They will continue to provide updates, and also answer your questions in a timely manner.
The majority of divorce cases are settled out of court, which may be ideal for parties wanting to avoid the hassle of an expensive trial. A divorce lawyer is expected to work with the other side to come up with a settlement that meets everyone’s needs. An experienced attorney should keep their clients informed about the cost of the case with regular invoices. If you expected the cost to be much less or higher based on the overall strategy, they can advise you on the reasons why the bill is not what you expected.
A big part of your divorce will involve discovery. Discovery allows lawyers to get information about your spouse, and each state has specific rules about what lawyers can ask for and do in their attempt to gather this information. Lawyers can send written requests for information from third parties or subpoena the other side for depositions. Many lawyers will reduce costs by calling the other side directly and simply requesting the relevant information.
One part of your lawyer’s responsibility that you might not like is hearing hard truths about the course of your divorce. Not everyone gets everything they want, and sometimes you’ll have to end up making unanticipated sacrifices. You lawyer will explain how divorce laws apply to your case so that you have realistic expectations.
Going to trial typically happens when both parties cannot reach an agreement in settlement efforts. If your case ends up going to trial, your attorney will proceed with the case according to your overall plan. They will also prepare you on what you can expect in the courtroom.