You have made the decision to divorce, and you have carefully researched, selected and hired an attorney, but your friend (a recent divorcee), or your uncle (a contracts attorney), has some input, or you researched different topics on the internet… and you’re starting to second guess your attorney.
Divorce, and child issues particularly, can be very emotional subjects. While there are laws out there the guide courts in making decision, there are a lot of legal factors that play into those decisions (or your attorney’s opinion of what a court is likely to decide). Divorce can be a long and arduous process, with many emotional ups and downs. It is common to talk about this process and your emotions, frustrations, and experiences with others who may have experienced a divorce themselves or have knowledge about the law (here comes in the friend who is recently divorced, you’re your uncle who is an attorney). These people can be great resources to help you cope emotionally during this hard time, and can be a great source to vent to when frustrations with your estranged spouse arise. However, they can also complicate the matter.
Many friends and family members will have opinions, these may be good in helping you to think of things you hadn’t thought of that may have an impact on your case. However, when the opinions turn into comments and suggestions making you second guess your attorney’s advice, it could become troublesome. Your attorney is your advocate, not your enemy. Many attorneys, good ones, appreciate a client who is informed, and asks questions to ensure he or she is making the right decisions or is fully apprised of the legal situation. However, when friends or family members make you want to fight with your attorney, or believe your attorney is wrong, this will inherently cause a breakdown in the attorney client relationship.
Moreover, you have to consider that you hired your attorney for good reason; he or she regularly practices in domestic law, is tuned in to the community and courts, and is listening to you and your needs. Friends who had a different judge, a different spouse, a different opposing counsel, and different set of facts and circumstances will have only one perspective to offer you; theirs. Your attorney has likely litigated 100s, if not 1000s of cases, and sees it all.
Even if you don’t have friends or family members in your ear, sometimes doing legal research on the internet can be just as damaging to your relationship with your attorney and your case. If you can take the internet for what it is, an unofficial and uneducated source, it can be very helpful to you in understanding some general principles applicable to your divorce case. You can even find support groups of others who are going through a similar stage in life. However, not everything on the internet is true. Additionally, different states have different rules, which means that you have to be careful about who is authoring a particular web article because he or she may be applying a different state’s rules, that would be completely different in the state you are divorcing in.
The rule when seeking outside sources, whether friends, family, colleagues, or the internet, is to use the resources in the right way: to open questions and dialogues with your attorney, to seek emotional support, to help give a general overview and guide to the legal process, or to understand legal terms. If the outside information causes you to argue with your attorney, or second guess him or her, it can be damaging to the attorney-client relationship built on trust. It is key to remember that your attorney is on your side, and not against you. Your attorney is giving you sage advice specific to your case, with your estranged spouse and children, your community and courts, and your particular needs, which are unique only to you.
We hope that you have found this information to be helpful. This is not intended to be legal advice. If you have questions or concerns about your specific case, Dixon & Moseley, P.C. can help evaluate your specific case. This blog post was written by Attorney, Lori B. Schmeltzer.