Voldemort moved out in March 2012, and I consulted two different attorneys in that first post-separation month. I didn’t really like either one and it turns out, each gave me a bit of good advice and a bit of very bad advice.
I wanted and needed to change the locks on the house since he had taken his keys. One lawyer said I could, the other said I couldn’t. The one who said I could also told me to pack all his separate property and store it in the garage. Legally, we co-own the house, so he could legally break in to get his stuff.*
I had the locks changed and packed all his stuff. I didn’t like having to pack all that crap, but I did it.
Those 50+ boxes have sat in my garage for a year and a half.
Now I’m glad I did it, so it was good advice.
The bad advice had to do with his pension and the equity in the house. Ultimately, though, neither of those attorneys really seemed to “get” my situation.
Then my friend, the Lovely L, started her own divorce. She tried the two attorneys I saw and found someone else. When I got served last month, I ended up in Lovely L’s attorney’s office. And this lawyer knew her stuff.
That’s not to say I liked everything she told me, because it turns out the law isn’t fair. The law doesn’t work the way we might think it should. There’s a need to be willing to practice radical acceptance of the law in order to retain your sanity. Lovely L’s lawyer gave me the single best piece of divorce advice I’ve received so far: “Don’t get emotional over the money. Don’t fight over the property. Save all your passion and emotion for the kids.”
I’m grateful I had time between when Voldemort moved out and when he filed for divorce. It gave me time to find an attorney with whom I feel connected. Unfortunately, lots of people don’t get that time so it’s important to pay attention when friends and colleagues get divorced. Did they like their attorney? Did they feel they got a fair deal? Did they spend through the assets to pay the attorney and if so, why? Did their STBX fight everything little thing or did the attorney stir the pot? It’s important to know which issues are worth the fight and which ones really aren’t.
Just because someone else had a good experience with an attorney doesn’t guarantee that you will. But word of mouth recommendations from people you trust can go a long way to weeding out the shysters.
Interview as many lawyers as you need in order to find one you’re comfortable with, someone who tells you the truth not just what you want to hear. No matter how tempting, don’t just hire the one who’s a pit bull because you want to make your STBX pay. In the end, it’ll cost you at least as much as it costs your former spouse.
*Please note that I’m not an attorney. Don’t change the locks or do anything else just because I did. This is what happened to work out for me, but it might get you into hot water, so talk to an experienced legal professional.