Before you even talk with an attorney about an impending divorce, you should have a good understanding of the options that are available to you. Any lawyer you talk with before you’re really prepared is going to steer you toward what they are good at, and not necessarily what is best for your type of divorce. It is often the case that no matter how much you like him or her, the first attorney you talk with just isn’t right for your particular kind of case, and you may not get the results to which you are entitled.
Your Options in a Divorce Case
There are basically four different types of divorce cases, so the attorney you choose should have considerable experience with the particular type of divorce that pertains to your situation.
- Uncontested divorce – in this scenario, there are no major disagreements between you and your spouse over custody, possessions, etc. It may be possible for you to undertake this kind of divorce without the intervention of legal professionals since all the necessary documents can be obtained and filled out on your own. It is always recommended, however, that at least one person has counsel so that critical mistakes can be avoided.
- Mediated divorce – a couple hires an attorney who has significant mediation skills, and that person serves as a neutral third party who guides them both through the process of settling any issues that require resolution. This allows the divorce to be handled outside of court, with the mediator handling all paperwork as well as any necessary negotiation.
- Collaborative divorce – both parties retain legal counsel in this situation, and all issues that arise are managed within the framework of meetings that take place outside the courtroom.
- Litigated divorce – this does take place in the courtroom, and may or may not end in a trial. The ideal lawyer for this situation is someone who is articulate in presenting your case, is a strong advocate for you personally, and works hard to achieve favorable results for you.
Divorce mediation remains the absolute best way to handle your divorce IF it’s right for your situation. But even when mediation is right for you, one of the first challenges is actually finding an experienced, qualified divorce mediator. Why? Mediation takes a lot of training, is challenging to execute, and is far less lucrative for divorce attorneys than hourly billing.
What to Look for in a Divorce Mediator
While a referral to a good divorce mediator would be the easiest way to proceed, it is unlikely you will find a mediator this way. Like most people facing a divorce, you will likely find a prospective attorney through an internet search. What you should be looking for is a lawyer or law firm who has mediation front and center as part of their services. A good mediator will have all required training, a long track record of mediating divorce cases, and will be passionate about what he or she does. You should also pay close attention to how your case is screened when you contact the law firm. Their staff should be well versed in how a mediation case is handled and should be able to provide key information about the next steps and get you scheduled for a consultation, which should include your spouse. If these factors are not present, you should keep looking.
The First Steps in Divorce Mediation
It is important to understand that a potential divorce mediation should start with a consultation that includes both spouses. If a lawyer initially meets with just one party, it creates an attorney-client relationship that then creates a conflict of interest for the attorney to handle the mediation. At your consultation, the attorney should be able to provide you with a roadmap of how the mediation will proceed. That should include how and when you will gather whatever information he or she needs to help settle your case, when and how long the mediation session or sessions will occur, and how documents will be prepared. Very often a mediated divorce will be handled as a flat fee. However the fee is handled, you should have a clear idea of what the total cost of the mediation will be before you begin.
Divorce mediation is not for everyone, but if you can make it work AND find the right mediator, it can save you thousands of dollars in legal fees and countless hours of heartache.
Choosing a Divorce Firm
The right divorce firm for you to select is one that has significant experience in the type of divorce you may be going through. Colorado Legal Group in Denver is a firm with years of experience in each of these areas. Contact us about your case, and have confidence that your best interests will be represented.