It’s best that you set your goals and use your lawyer to develop a long-term strategy to achieve them. Often, it’s difficult to determine your goals in the beginning because you don’t have enough information to know what goals are possible, given your unique facts and circumstances. It’s the lawyer’s job to add clarity to the situation, so that you can make good decisions to achieve the outcome you want.
You should use your initial meeting with your attorney to fully explore your situation and ask your lawyer any questions you have in order to make good choices. Your lawyer will act as the quarterback, but ultimately, you own the team and are responsible for the final decisions. It is generally the lawyer’s job to coordinate all of the players on your team, including accountants, psychologists, financial advisors, real-estate agents, insurance agents, and other professionals. Your lawyer can help you create a strategy, including a long-term plan.
You need to set preliminary goals during your first meeting with your lawyer. After you set your goals and have a basic understanding of what you hope to achieve through the process, consider using a “success coach”: a confidant who can help you to stay on course with your goals. This coach is usually a third party rather than your attorney. Sometimes, lawyers become so involved in the legal issues of the case that they lose track of your goals; your success coach can provide a counter-balance to your lawyer and keep you on track.
You must review your goals on a regular basis – monthly, quarterly, or yearly, depending on the circumstances of your case. By reviewing your goals regularly, you will force yourself to stay active in your case and ultimately be able to control your destiny. This will also provide you with an opportunity to modify your goals if necessary, so that you keep a realistic outlook on your case.
When your case is completed and you have achieved some or all of your goals, reward yourself for your success. A divorce is more like a marathon than a sprint. The long hours and hard work you put into your case, working with your lawyer and other professionals, will pay off in the long run.
Steven A. Mindel has been certified as a Family Law Specialist since 1998 and heads the business and transactional department of Los Angeles firm Feinberg, Mindel, Brandt and Kline. He serves as a Judge Pro Tem for the Los Angeles Superior Court, Family Law Division and is the Family Law expert for CouplesCompany.com.