By Paul Hewett | Contributor
If you find yourself on the road to divorce, what can you do to make the rocky road of divorce less traumatic? Finding the right attorney to help you navigate the process will make the journey a lot smoother.
It’s critical that your first step be to find a lawyer who specializes in divorce, specifically one who is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. A list of these lawyers is surprisingly easy to find at www.tbls.org. Finding the right attorney who will advocate for you is so important because you need a lawyer who can provide an understanding of the big picture and how the process works. You need to prepare yourself for the journey you are about to undertake. There are so many things to account for, that you will feel overwhelmed. Your attorney can help clarify the process.
Your first visit with the attorney will be a consultation. He or she will ask questions about your individual situation, discuss the process with you, and give you a list of next steps. I always recommend that you pay the consultation fee ahead of the meeting if at all possible because the lawyer will know you are serious about hiring counsel. Bring pre-written questions if you like. Plan on spending at least an hour with the lawyer on this first visit and realize that you will be flooded with information, but don’t think you have to memorize it all or write it all down. A good lawyer – the right attorney – will remind you of things as you move through the process.
It’s important to note, even if you decide not to hire the lawyer to represent you in the divorce, this meeting will remain completely confidential. The attorney-client privilege exists, even at the initial consultation level. Remember, you oversee your case, so it is important to find an attorney who you feel a rapport with. You may be more comfortable with a male or female lawyer. You may like an aggressive personality or someone whose style is more amenable.
It’s quite likely you’ll walk out of that meeting feeling much better than when you walked in. You and your lawyer will have a plan of how to proceed. The pre-divorce filing plan may include opening separate checking and savings accounts. You will likely be advised to start compiling financial documents, retirement and investment documents, real estate and vehicle documents. Knowing your debt and credit card balances, if any, will also be useful. All this will help your lawyer understand the size of the community estate. If children are involved, you may be advised to start keeping a calendar of the children’s events, noting whether you or your spouse help facilitate these activities. This information will be used to help your lawyer best advocate for what you think is in your children’s best interest.
If divorce is inevitable, start educating yourself now and find the attorney who will guide you into the next phase of your life as prepared as possible. The right legal counsel will help you navigate the twists and turns and get you through with fewer bumps along the way.
Editor’s Note: Paul Hewett is a partner with the Family Law boutique firm Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson, LLP, where he specializes in helping families involved in Family Law-related matters. He can be reached at ONDAfamilylaw.com.