Is it Worth It to Hire a Lawyer
to Draft Your Separation Agreement?
The answer to that question is of course determined by two main factors:
- The temperament of the lawyer you choose to represent you; and
- The personalities of the parties involved in the separation.
The temperament of the lawyer
This is actually easier to determine than you might think. A referral from a good friend who was satisfied with their previous lawyer is always your best hint at the kind of lawyer that will work well with you. Your friend knows you well, they should have an idea of the kind of end result you are looking for and will recommend someone that they feel will help you along the way.
Don’t have any friends that have been down this path before? No problem, search the web for reviews and testimonials. In today’s day and age, everyone is posting reviews both positive and negative. If someone has something to say about their previous experience with their lawyer, you had better believe that they are going to post it on line. Trust reviews on non-biased sites that allow the public to rate the lawyer, avoid sites that simply list the lawyer; these listings are simply a form of advertising that are paid for by the lawyer.
Most lawyers offer a free consultation. This consultation allows you to talk about your case and get their feedback, but it also allows you to see a little of their personality. Are you looking for a “pitbull” or a “golden retriever”? By the end of the consultation, you should be able to get a feel if this person is right for you or not. Don’t hesitate to meet with several lawyers at the start, so that you can compare and find the one that is right for you.
If you find a lawyer that is going to argue every point for you, you may win the battle but lose the overall war. Highly contentious divorce cases are expensive. Be sure to weigh how much it will cost you in legal fees to argue vs. the overall gain of that argument. If the matter goes to court, rather than simply negotiating a Separation Agreement, it can cost a lot in legal fees. A collaborative approach to family law can be both cost effective and effective at reaching a fair resolution to your separation.
The personalities of the parties involved
You know your ex-spouse better than anyone. You know their personality and what buttons to push. The question is, when it comes to division of property, child support, custody etc., are they likely to be reasonable? Or will they dig their heals in and fight you on every point.
Your lawyer is not your therapist
The relationship you have with your lawyer is sacred. When you retain a lawyer, whether for a divorce or another issue, the lawyer is ethically charged with holding what you say to him/her as confidential. That means your attorney cannot talk about your case in public or to third parties without your consent.
Although your lawyer may be great at listening, don’t lose sight of the fact that you are paying this person by the hour. Try to stay focused on the legal advice you are paying them to provide.
You can expect that your lawyer will contact you when he/she needs something from you. There will always be periods in every case where nothing is going on and there is down time. Your attorney should give you periodic updates on the status of things and while it’s ok to check in yourself from time to time, daily calls are unnecessary and will only run up your bill.
Divorce can be upsetting. It is important to consider though that if you just want to vent about your ex-spouse it is certainly less expensive to just meet a friend for coffee or drinks. If you find that you actually need counselling to deal with the separation, they get some. Therapists tend to charge less per hour than lawyers and are more suited to that task. Lawyers are there to help you with your legal issues. Keeping this in mind will streamline your case and save you money in the long run.
Divorce changes people
The person you married used to be wonderful. You once thought so at least, otherwise you wouldn’t have married them. But somewhere along the way, things fell apart and now you are facing the possibility of separation and all the stress that comes with that. This process has changed you both, and at least for the short term, it is not really bringing out the best in either of you. You may find yourself angry and bitter about the whole situation. Believe me, you’re friends have noticed this about you. You need to get this situation under control and get your life back. No one likes seeing you like this, especially your family and friends.
You need someone to guide you through this process; someone who is not emotionally involved in your divorce. A good lawyer will protect your rights and help you find a fair and reasonable resolution so that both parties can walk away feeling satisfied that things were done right. A bad lawyer will inflame the already emotionally charged battleground and cause more stress between the two of you.
It is important to remember that after the dust settles and after the Separation Agreement is all signed, you both have to live with what is written on that page. If it is not done right, your lawyer will be long gone, but you may still have to deal with your ex-spouse for years to come.
So is it worth it to hire a lawyer to draft your Separation Agreement? It can be yes; if you find the right one. The important thing is to take your time and choose wisely.
Our law office has the recognized expertise to guide you through this and all other legal aspects of your separation.