Divorce is a painful and difficult process. Obviously, if the parties were getting along and communicating well, they wouldn’t be getting divorced in the first place. It’s the communication process that makes a good lawyer so critical in a divorce matter. You want to hire an attorney that demonstrates excellent communication skills to assist you in persuasively advancing your position, not only in court but also in negotiations with the other side.
The best divorce lawyers are able to argue a position without seeming argumentative. Seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? However, the divorce process is emotional. The parties typically feel anger, resentment, failure and a fear of the future. The job of the lawyer is to take the emotion out of the analysis. It doesn’t help to make the situation worse by being argumentative with the other side. Some people feel that the best divorce lawyer is the one that yells the loudest or refuses to concede any point, no matter how illogical. However, courts and other attorneys on a case tend to ignore those lawyers that blindly advocate a position, regardless of how irrational it is.
When interviewing an attorney, assess his ability to listen, to assess your problem(s) and to offer reasonable solutions you may not have considered. Most divorce cases ultimately resolve by agreement rather than by going to trial. Trials are expensive and can have an uncertain result. Your lawyer should have the ability to propose a reasonable result that gets you most of the things that are important to you while conceding the points that are less important in the interests of allowing you to move forward with your life.
Of course, the best lawyers also know when to stand their ground and fight. You can assist your lawyer by advising him as to what issues are non-negotiable. Frequently, it is the best interests of the children that creates the most disputes in a divorce. Even here, however, compromise is sometimes beneficial to both you and your children. Courts recognize that children need the love and support of both parents, even when a marriage breaks down. The ability of your lawyer to know what a judge is likely to do at trial and to negotiate a settlement that is perhaps better than what you could get a trial is a crucial step toward getting you and your children out of court and back to living your lives. Sometimes a guardian ad litem or even psychologists are involved in the decision on custody and placement. Again, good divorce lawyers in the Wisconsin county court system know who those people are in a particular county and can sometimes influence who becomes involved in these difficult decisions. When interviewing a lawyer in a complex child custody dispute, ask the lawyer if he knows the judge, the lawyer on the other side or any other participants in your case.
Finally, you must keep in mind your ability to afford a particular attorney. However, the best lawyer for you might not be the one with the lowest hourly rate. For one thing, a good lawyer with a higher hourly rate may actually save you money by resolving your case more quickly and thereby spending less attorney time on your matter. For another, the decision to hire a particular lawyer on your divorce might be a decision that affects you and your children for a very long time. Save money on the cable bill or your cell phone. On important matters like a divorce, you should get the best lawyer you can reasonably afford. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did.