In a movie, when a character says "Trust me, I'm a lawyer," the implication is clearly that the character is not to be trusted. In real life, though, you absolutely should trust your attorney, especially in a family law matter. If you do trust your attorney, you should listen to him or her. And if you don't, you should find another attorney. Here are a number of reasons why.
That's not to say that your mother, your co-worker, and your best friend are double agents. But as people who care for you, they may let their feelings for you (or their own experience with divorce) affect their advice about your divorce. For instance, a friend who has watched you suffer mistreatment by your spouse may advise you to "make him (or her) suffer" in the divorce.
You can certainly do that, but the reality is that it will cost you a lot more money, time and stress. You will pay in additional attorney fees that protracted court battles incur. You will pay in the deterioration of the relationship with the person with whom you may be co-parenting for several years. You'll pay in terms of your own stress levels.
Now, that's not to say that you should never stand your ground or fight for what's right in your family law dispute. Sometimes, the only way to get what's best for you and your children is to refuse to settle for anything less.
That's why listening to your attorney (and having an attorney you feel comfortable listening to) is so important. He or she is objective, tasked only with helping you navigate your divorce and achieve the best possible outcome. Your attorney knows that every divorce is different, and what worked for your cousin or hairdresser or your mechanic might not be the best course of action for you. You can insist on a different course of action from what your attorney recommends, but remember that your attorney is both objective and has your best interests at heart.
A good attorney will help you pick your battles wisely. If standing your ground on an issue is really what's needed, a good attorney will advocate tirelessly on your behalf. If your attorney sees that battling over something isn't in your best interests, he or she will let you know that and help you choose an option that serves you better.
Start with referrals from family and friends; if they liked their attorney, there's a good chance you will, too. Interview a few attorneys, and trust your gut. No matter how glowing an attorney's record of success, no matter how many awards and plaques dot the office, if you are not comfortable with the attorney, that is not the attorney for you.
In general, an attorney who won't listen to you is probably an attorney that you will not be comfortable placing your confidence in. So avoid attorneys who are more interested in telling you how successful they are than in listening to what you need from them.
Because the family law process is often unfamiliar and can be intimidating, an attorney you can trust will put you at ease by helping you understand what to expect. Just because your lawyer has been through a process hundreds of times, he or she shouldn't take it for granted that you'll feel comfortable with what lies ahead. A good sign is if you leave an interview with a prospective attorney feeling both heard and informed.
Finding a family law attorney you really trust may take a little bit of effort, but it's effort well spent. Your attorney will guide you through what might be one of the most difficult times in your life, and will help you set the course for everything that lies ahead. We invite you to contact Mundahl Law for a consultation to learn more about your options for resolving a Minnesota family law dispute. We care about your family situation.