These days, everyone seems to know someone that has gone through a divorce. Oftentimes, when either one spouse or both spouses decide that a divorce is best for them, they go to one of two different people for advice. A lot of people find that person they know who has gotten a divorce. Usually, for folks that talk to friends or family about the divorce process, the dialogue becomes more about how horrible the friends ex-spouse was, how much it cost, and that they got “screwed” by a lawyer, or the judge (or the double trouble situation where the lawyer and judge were out to get one spouse over the other!).
Other people go to the other person I mentioned above—an attorney. While I am a lawyer, and make my living helping people through divorces and other family law related issues, this is the route that I recommend (but keep reading because I still believe speaking with family and friends about the divorce is an integral part of the process!).
Here’s why I recommend speaking to a lawyer before your family member or friend who got a divorce: first, a divorce is a very private matter that conjures up an incredible array of emotions. I often find that when someone calls me to talk about a divorce, they’re not totally ready to proceed and actually set up a meeting to talk more about their situation. I tell clients that this feeling is understandable…afterall, there was something that brought you and your spouse together years ago, and now you’re talking to a stranger about getting out of that. I am a big believer in the fact that unless the person is ready and willing, my representation of them them will not be productive…so, I often recommend that people take their time, and give me a call back or email when they’re ready to meet to talk more about what’s going on.
The second reason that I recommend speaking with an attorney before the family member or friend who has gotten a divorce is because an attorney is the correct person to get the facts straight on the process, explain and discuss the different options to get a divorce, and the time line that getting a divorce will encompass. While I know that people have family members and friends that are deeply knowledgeable about getting a divorce in Pennsylvania, you wouldn’t go to your friend who read a book about stitching up a deep cut on your hand…you would go to a doctor to get the stitches because the doctor is an expert and will help take their own emotion out of deciding what is the best course of treatment for the particular injury. This is exactly what an attorney will do that most family and friends won’t be able to do. An attorney can take their own emotion out of a situation, and help counsel a client on the best way to achieve the goals of getting a divorce.
Now, remember when I wrote above that I’d get back to speaking with family and friends about the divorce process? It is now, after you’ve had your initial consult with an attorney that I recommend you speak with those friends and family members who have gotten a divorce (obviously plus other family and friends who can be a support system, even if they haven’t gotten a divorce and have never even talked to an attorney). The family or friends with divorce experience are the best people to help you come up with questions for your attorney about the divorce. Through their experiences, you will come up with a whole slew of questions that you never even thought of. Those questions are from real life experiences, and most likely, your attorney will have dealt with those situations and questions before. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, speaking with family and friends will help you actually get through the divorce because it almost certainly will cause a major lifestyle change once it is completed.
So, if it is the unfortunate time that you are in need of an attorney to help you with a divorce, my recommendation is that you speak with an attorney first…get the facts straight on what the divorce process is like, then go to your family and friends who have gotten a divorce to both help you come up with more questions for your attorney, and also to serve as your support system through an incredibly tough time.