Realize from the start that this is something you can control. Know the specifics of the retainer you sign and that you can have the legal services tailored to your needs. If you do not need the full suite of services and are capable of completing portions of the process on your own, such as figuring out what is going to happen with the marital home, let your putative attorney know that. You and your spouse can also use the services of a mediator, who would facilitate negotiations between the two of you for purposes of empowering you to resolve your own dispute, keeping your costs down, and striving for collaboration. In mediation, you and your spouse would make all the decisions. The mediator, unlike a judge or an arbitrator, does not make decisions for you. The mediator helps identify the issues and guide the parties in interest-based negotiating. You may still need an attorney but only for the limited scope of providing you with counsel and wisdom as you negotiate and review any agreements you are considering. There are mediation-friendly attorneys who provide these more limited, but no less important, services.
Thomas J. Petrelli, Jr. is a partner at Petrelli Previtera Schimmel, LLC, focusing on cases of divorce and related matters, support, custody, and parental rights.