Advice to Clients
We must have all the facts to represent you properly. Anything you tell anyone in this office, either verbally or in writing, we will hold strictly confidential and we will not disclose that information without your permission. Please note, however, that only that information revealed to the attorney without the presence of a third party is protected through this confidential relationship.
If calls are made on cellular or cordless phones, any matters of substance discussed may lose the attorney/client privilege.
Never put anything in writing or post anything that you would not want the judge hearing your case to see or read. Assume everything you write to or about your spouse or your situation will be seen by someone who will download it, forward it, or print it so it may be used against you.
The cost of divorce varies greatly from case to case depending on many factors such as the complexity of the issues in dispute, the willingness and ability of the client to gather information, and the expediency with which the parties are able to come to agreement. It is our policy to keep costs down for our clients by giving them the opportunity to do as much of the groundwork as possible.
Steps that you can take that will help to minimize the cost of your divorce are:
- Gather all documents and complete all forms requested.
- Work out as many issues as you can with your spouse, especially those involving your children. In all cases with two loving parents, the best resolution is the one they design themselves with their children’s best interests in mind. Unless it cannot be avoided, don’t let dispassionate judges and lawyers decide how your children will be raised.
- Be fair.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. In most cases, it makes no sense to pay an attorney an hourly rate to negotiate a personal property item of little value.
- Don’t ask your attorney to do things you can do. Collect your financial information, deeds, stocks and bonds, tax records, titles, insurance or benefits, valuable personal property, etc., and present to your attorney in a logical format.
- Prepare all of the forms you are requested to and get them to your attorney as quickly as possible. If your attorney has to chase after you for requested information, you will have to be billed for the time he or she spends in chasing you.
- In certain cases involving significant contested issues, it may be helpful to prepare a biography of your marriage. In as much detail as possible, and in as logical a format as possible, present the history of your marriage.
- Except in an emergency, try to save your questions rather than calling your attorney with each question. You could also send your questions in writing or by email, or await your next scheduled meeting. Email is often the method of communication preferred by attorneys, often generates a more prompt and more detailed response from the attorney, and often will be billed for less time than a telephone call.
- Arrange for specialists to help you address other issues related to the divorce. For example, clients often call attorneys regarding emotional issues. If you are having trouble managing your emotions, your money is better spent dealing with a counselor, psychologist, or other professional who is trained to help you with those issues.
- Try to deal with legal assistants or paralegals rather than the attorney whenever possible. The hourly rate billed for paralegals is much less than the rate of the attorney. All information you provide to the legal assistant or paralegal is shared with the attorney who will then determine what action is required.
Your well-meaning friends and associates may offer you advice about your case. Frequently such advice is not accurate and you should be cautious in following it. The facts surrounding your marriage, divorce, children, and property are unique. Each case is different.
Divorce proceedings are very emotional and parties sometimes use them to seek revenge. Sometimes one parent will use the children in an attempt to punish the other parent. Prepare your children properly without poisoning their minds about your spouse. Obtain professional advice if possible. Attempt to cooperate with your spouse where the children are involved. The court generally favors parents who facilitate healthy and loving relationships with the other parent.
- Always take the high road. (Your bad deed neutralizes your spouse’s bad deed.)
- Protect your child’s childhood.
- Be fair and reasonable.
- Remember the “Golden Rule.”
- Discuss the details of the divorce and legal proceedings with your child.
- Ask your child to choose sides.
- Put the burden of a decision regarding contact on your child’s shoulders.
- Say bad things about the other parent or allow those around you to say bad things.
- Hover or listen in on your child’s telephone conversations with the other parent. Respect your child’s privacy.
- Treat your child as a confidant.
- Use your child to deliver messages to the other parent.
- Cross-examine your child after spending time with the other parent.
- Make your child feel guilty about loving the other parent.
- Ask your child to keep secrets or tell untruths to the other parent.
In cases involving children, we strongly recommend that our clients take the Kids First: Parenting Through Divorce and The Next Step: Parenting After Divorce courses offered at the Kids First Center, 222 St. John Street, Portland. The Center also offers group sessions for children and has a great library of books concerning divorce and children. It is a valuable resource. The Center’s number is 207-761-2709. http://www.kidsfirst.org