We all want to feel comfortable that we have an excellent attorney on our side in our family law case, but we often forget to consider whether we are being a good client. Since your conduct as a client can either increase or decrease the amount of time your attorney has to spend on your case, one of the rewards for being an good client can be a lower bill from your attorney, not to mention better communication, a better outcome, and a smoother attorney-client relationship throughout your case. Here are six more tips to keep you on the path of being a good client in your divorce.
- Promptly review all communications from your attorney or law office staff and respond timely when a response is requested. Don’t wait until the last minute to respond — having sufficient preparation time after receiving your response is often essential for your attorney. If you learn new information about your case, report it sooner rather than later so its impact can be immediately considered by your attorney.
- Don’t leave a bare phone or email message for your attorney asking for a return call or office appointment. Include sufficient detail to ensure that your attorney’s return call or email will efficiently address your topic of concern and will allow for sufficient time to discuss your concern if an office appointment or return phone call is made. If you don’t receive a response within a reasonable time and your matter is urgent, don’t hesitate to contact your attorney’s secretary or legal assistant to discuss your situation.
- Always be respectful of your attorney’s law office staff. As part of your divorce team, each staff member plays an important role in moving your case forward and will be glad to assist you with reasonable requests. Resist any temptation to take out your frustrations with your divorcing spouse, opposing counsel, your judge, your attorney or any other situation in your life on the hardworking, dedicated staff of your attorney’s law office. They work diligently on your behalf.
- Take responsibility for your own important team role in decision-making along the way and stay as prepared as possible. Keep a written diary/calendar of all significant events and share it with your attorney. You may think you will never forget a certain incident but memories can dim over time. Your attorney will also appreciate having a written copy in your client records for later use.
- Try to approach your divorce as a process that will require flexibility and creative solutions to problems that may arise before your divorce is finalized. Though it can be very difficult, it’s better not to be overly attached to any particular outcome. Realize that your divorce may end differently than your sister’s, neighbor’s, or co-worker’s divorce because every divorce case truly is different.
- Always rely on your attorney for your divorce legal advice, not on your spouse, friends, family members or other acquaintances. If non-legal issues are troubling you, seek help from a qualified professional in those fields. Your attorney is not a therapist, a child guidance professional, or a financial expert, but your attorney likely can refer you to professionals in many divorce-related fields for assistance in those areas. Feel comfortable asking your attorney for a referral list.
Jeanne Coleman, Esq. has represented family law clients in the Tampa Bay area for over twenty-five years. Her Law Office also provides legal representation in dependency and social security disability cases. In addition to being a highly experienced trial lawyer, Jeanne is a trained collaborative divorce attorney offering a reduced rate collaborative divorce process for lower income/asset cases. Contact her Law Office today for more information.