Many people know when it is time to get a divorce and they approach a lawyer for that purpose.
For the majority of people, it is their first-time seeking help from a lawyer and it is useful to know what to expect at that initial meeting. A visit to a lawyer’s office has some level of anxiety for those who are not familiar with what to expect. They are as anxious about visiting a lawyer’s office as they are more anxious about going to court. This need not be so as your lawyer is meant to be on your side. Indeed, if he is less than protective of your matter, the Bar Association of your country is the first ombudsman that you need to complain to.
What are the matters that would interest your lawyer when you visit his office for the matter of your divorce?
- Why Are You Seeking A Divorce?
To many this may sound like an annoying question. I hear clients asking back ‘What kind of question is that? I told you the marriage has broken up’. Many times, a marriage hasn’t broken up. The parties are warring at the time and their egos has gotten into the way of good reasoning. Divorce is never the first option and because the law expects that your lawyer will give a certificate of their attempt to reconcile your spouse and you, it is valid question for your both. If the marriage can be reconciled through mediation, it is the first duty of the lawyer to do so by referring you to organisations that facilitate such.
- What Caused Your Break Up?
The reason for divorce is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. There are many ways we can prove that, these include separation, desertion, adultery or behaviour that we cannot be expected to reasonable live with. It is important to give a good account of the facts to be relied upon and as much as possible evidence that you have. If you have been subjected to domestic violence, it is important to have medical and probably police reports.
- Details Of Your Personal Data
Your lawyer needs to know facts about your birth, the birth of your spouse, your ages and places of birth. Your maiden name, if you have taken the name of your spouse. It is always a great help if your immigration status is given too. Domicile has been defined as the country that a person treats as their permanent home, or lives in and has a substantial connection with.
- Facts About Your Marriage
A lot of the facts about the celebration of your marriage is usually contained in your marriage certificate. You need to have the original or a certified true copy for the purposes of your divorce petition. That is your proof of marriage and needs to be seen by the court that is called upon to dissolve it. No court will divorce the parties without a marriage certificate.
You also need to let your lawyer know if you have committed adultery that has not been condoned by your spouse. Condonation is assumed if there has been resumption of sexual intercourse. A good divorce lawyer will tell you if there is a need for a discretion statement. Have you been guilty of any conduct that your spouse finds reprehensible, it is wise to give your lawyer the information, so he is not taken by surprise when your spouse files a reply to your divorce petition?
- Financial Information
What is your financial worth? This is a consideration when one party asks for a financial settlement. In Nigeria as with most jurisdictions, the father is expected to make financial arrangements for his children as well as for a dependent spouse. A woman who has property of her own may not qualify for that but can still ask for the children.
- Legal Documents
What legal documents do you have to tell your lawyer about? Is there any claim on your salary of income by way of a Court Order? If this is not your first divorce what maintenance order do you have with respect to the children or spouse of the previous marriage?
- Your Divorce Goals
What do you wish to get from the divorce. Custody of the kids tops the list of those who say. Maintenance of the spouse is another popular desire. Have you thought about having a new life? If your lawyer is a relationship expert, you may wish to discuss such goals with him and if he isn’t he may be able to lead you in the right direction. It is important that you think about and discuss your post-divorce desires before you start the process.
What Your Divorce Lawyer Expects from You
Your lawyer wants to deliver a top-notch service to you. He wants to work hard on your behalf. He expects you therefore to be business-like, ask relevant questions, and control your emotions when you articulate your divorce plans.
Your lawyer expects to be paid on time as agreed and in full. If you ask = and he is so minded he may agree a payment plan for you. If you are broke and are hardly able to look after the kids on your own, the lawyer should be asked to apply to court for an order for maintenance pendente-lite (during litigation). if you feel that there is a possibility of physical assault or child tussle, there are orders during litigation that your lawyer should be able to apply for. The important thing is to make sure that your lawyer feels comfortable serving you.
8 Ways to be an Ideal Client
To get the best service from your divorce lawyer, it’s essential to be a good client. Here’s how to gain his or her respect:
- Don’t burden your lawyer with your emotional issues; hire a family relationship therapist for that.
- Don’t hide information from your lawyer. If anything, new happens make a call or send him a note with the details.
- Always tell your lawyer the truth, even when it’s unpleasant or unflattering to you.
- Don’t expect your lawyer to behave like the heroic lawyers on TV shows. Work with his temperament.
- Don’t blame your lawyer for the family-law system or expect him or her to change it. If you must vent about that, do so when you get home.
- Don’t call your divorce lawyer outside of his work hours unless it’s an emergency.
- Be polite and friendly with the staff of the office. They are his support people and may simply put cogs in the way of the progress of your work.
- Don’t communicate with your spouse’s lawyer. It is the duty of your lawyer. It is professionally discourteous to do so. It is important that you and your lawyer maintain a strong, trusting relationship in order for you to get the best possible representation – and to achieve the best possible outcome.
What You Should Expect from Your Divorce Lawyer
Ask for a written agreement, or client care letter that details the terms of your lawyer-client relationship.it should have details of the scope of work that he is doing for you, the fee structure, the solicitor who is handling your work and their contact details. There ought to be a sentence or two about conflict resolution and any other terms of a general nature. If he or she won’t provide one, find another lawyer.
After your meeting, your lawyer should create a strategy and should communicate it to you. Always remember that the strategy is dynamic and may change along the way depending on what comes up.
Your lawyer should clearly explain all your options, and offer advice regarding the best paths to follow, but respect your wishes if you strongly disagree with a suggested course of action.
Expect to feel frustrated or disappointed from time to time as your divorce progresses. Stay involved with the progress of the matter and answer questions asked honestly and in good time.
While the visit to the lawyer’s office won’t find you love, it ought to set you on the course in confidence.