divorce lawyer tips

Divorce Advice from a Divorce Lawyer

How long should I wait for a return call from my divorce attorney?  How long should I wait for my divorce attorney to send me an update?  Will my divorce attorney send me a reply to my email?

These are just a few of the questions that I, as an experienced divorce attorney, receive from friends, acquaintances and sometimes from someone ‘asking for a friend’. To be honest, those questions are always troubling to me because I know that the stress is so high for those going through divorce.  As humans it’s not unusual for the unknown – whether it is in divorce or not – to be a cause for more stress and often fear as well.

Divorce Lawyer Tip -First Meeting

At your first meeting or consultation with your prospective divorce attorney, ask how they like to communicate with their clients?  One more thing, remember to listen for the answer from the divorce attorney.  Did she give you an answer or just say she doesn’t have a preference? Most divorce attorneys have a procedure in their office for how and when email is answered.  Also, most divorce lawyers have an office process for phone calls from clients as well.  You will find that most experienced competent divorce attorneys will be able to tell you the best way to get information to them or to get ahold of them quickly if you need to during your divorce.  Does her legal assistant monitor her email if she is in court or in mediation all day?  Will her receptionist put your call through to her legal assistant if you ask? If you know the best and fastest way to get in touch with your divorce attorney you may be able to save time and money by using that way to communicate with her during your divorce.

Divorce Lawyer Tip – During Divorce

After you find out the best way to communicate with your divorce attorney, ask how long you should expect to wait for a reply if you email or call your divorce attorney.  Again, most divorce attorneys have a policy for a return email or return telephone call.  If the prospective divorce attorney you are meeting with tells you the office policy for the return call or reply, review it again in the written fee agreement to make sure you understand it.  Standard law office procedure is to return the call or send a reply email and go back and forth getting information or providing answers.  Sometimes this can get to be frustrating if you miss the return call and have to start all over again and try to get ahold of your divorce attorney.

Several years ago, I found myself growing frustrated by voicemail going back and forth with clients and opposing counsel.  It seemed that despite best attempts no one was available when I returned calls and I wasn’t available when they called back.

So, I started a new process – we started setting appointments for return calls.  It doesn’t matter if the call is going to be 15 minutes or less.  It goes on the calendar. It seemed unusual at the time when my staff started asking if they could set a time for me to return the call.  I found that it makes connecting and communicating much easier for everyone including with opposing counsel.  It saves money and time in the divorce and for my clients.

So, another tip during your divorce is to ask if you can set appointments for return calls, even if it is going to be a short call.  That way you can plan to step away – even into the garage or outside to get some privacy – for the call with your divorce attorney.

Divorce Lawyer Tip – End of the Divorce

As your divorce comes to an end it is easy and natural to think it is all done.  You are probably thinking you never want to see your divorce lawyer again and most divorce attorneys understand that.  (I’ve heard it said very nicely many times.)  But this is the time you want to make sure you are still communicating well with your divorce attorney.

If your lawyer isn’t paperless, and still keeps paper divorce files, make sure you get any original documents that the divorce attorney has in her file regarding your divorce.  If your lawyer’s office and file is paperless, ask your divorce lawyer how long you will be able to access any documents that she delivered to you online or through a portal.  And, next you want to download and store in a safe place in an electronic or online location all of the documents that are important to you and your divorce.

Finally, ask your lawyer to go over your divorce decree with you and any other closing your divorce file documents that you sign and/or receive at the end of your divorce.  And ask what next steps you should take based on your divorce and your particular divorce.

These strategies are some of the best divorce lawyer tips for any divorce.

Contact my office to get divorce strategies and divorce tips for your Texas divorce.

Jill O’Connell, Esq., 972-203-6644