There should be two primary qualifications. First of all, that this professional is knowledgeable about the law especially divorce and family law which has become highly specialized. It used to be considered an area that any general practitioner could do and it actually used to not be taken very seriously as an area of law, but it’s become much more specialized over the years and it’s not really considered an area of law that other attorneys take for granted anymore.
Experience and knowledge of divorce and family law is key. A person would really want to make sure that the attorney that they’re considering hiring has a good deal of experience in that particular area.
Secondly, the attorney has a heart for helping people and that doesn’t necessarily mean somebody that sympathizes with you, it can simply mean somebody that is just simply receptive to hearing your concerns and hearing you out and recognizing that this is probably one of the most difficult things that that client is ever going to go through in his or her life and recognizing that it is a little bit different area of law because of the very personal nature of the issues that are involved.
For red flags, if you’re interviewing a divorce attorney and he or she seems distracted or not particularly interested in what you’re telling them, doesn’t really seem engaged and is not a good listener, none of those are very encouraging signs that they’re going to give your case a lot of attention.
What Are The Most Challenging Aspects of A Divorce Case For A Lawyer To Deal With?
First of all, it’s managing people’s expectations. A divorce judge is typically not going to be really concerned that husband or wife has been put through a lot of pain in their marriage and sometimes the judge will even be somewhat jaded because of what they’ve heard over the years.
It’s not just judges though; I’ve had a jury trial one time where the woman was asking for more of the division or a greater division of assets because she said her husband had been abusive and she had laid out the case for it, he did this several years and this went on for several years, and the jury was not very sympathetic to her.
Afterwards the jury said, “We really aren’t interested in rewarding her for staying with him all those years. She should have left him.” That was a very interesting and fresh perspective on how somebody who is trying a divorce case, in this case, the jury, looked at the conduct issues and said, “Well, yes, his conduct was bad but we’re not going to reward her for staying in something that she should have gotten out of a long time ago.” So, managing people’s expectations about what can and should be achieved in a litigation process is definitely the biggest challenge.
Number two is just familiarizing a layperson, your client to getting used to the legal process, which can be kind of arbitrary sometimes and it is a process that is governed by rules that makes sense to attorneys but don’t make sense to laypersons sometimes.
Things that are just second in nature to an attorney are very baffling to clients and sometimes it takes a little bit of education to tell them why certain rules are in place especially if it’s a rule that somehow adversely affects them. Managing finances is another challenge.
We live in a very automated society where people want things fast and they want it cheap, and fast and cheap usually does not equal good. The saying, “You get what you pay for,” unfortunately is very true.
How Long Could a Divorce Case Potentially Last?
In Georgia, you can be divorced 31 days after all the paperwork’s been filed in and that is, I believe, the fast estate of any in the union. That’s if it’s uncontested though, that’s if there’s an agreement.
If it’s contested, it’s anybody’s guess. It’s anywhere from a few weeks to the shortest type of contested hearing or action to potentially take years but that’s highly unusual. I had one that took 3 years but that was an extremely complicated interstate divorce case with contested custody issues and Georgia and Florida were both trying to decide who had jurisdiction, we convinced the Florida court to let Georgia take jurisdiction but that was one of the reasons it took so long.
Is There Anything Else that You Would Like to Add?
It’s very important for a client to feel comfortable with his or her attorney, that does not mean they have to be best friends but that does mean that they have to feel comfortable communicating with each other and the client needs to feel like their questions are answered in a timely manner and that their time is being spent well and that there is respect all around.
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