Why are People so Afraid of Lawyers when Getting Divorced? – Don’t Be!
In the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow, repeat the phrase “Lions, Tigers and Bears, Oh My” when they are walking through a forest. They are fearful about the unfamiliar around them, and become anxious and afraid.
Divorce for most people involves some period of fear and anxiety – about what was, but more importantly, about the unknown and what will be. The fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and is about so many things including home, family, children, relationships, money, jobs, and just plain survival – emotional, social and financial.
Tackling Your Fears by Gathering Information
Fear and anxiety, and the worry about the unknown, can be alleviated by getting information about those things that concern you the most. Information about the process also helps alleviate fear and anxiety, as most people going through a divorce have not been through it before and don’t know what to expect. Information is both king and queen – it provides you with context, control, helps manage expectations, and can provide a roadmap for getting from where you were or are to where you want or need to be.
How do you get that information? Divorce is a legal process – so why not consult an attorney? A consultation takes a minimal amount of time, usually an hour or so, and is generally at minimal cost. Yet that hour can provide you with a wealth of information without any commitment. You don’t have to make any decisions because of a consult, and when you consult with an attorney you get the benefit of the following:
- You get to tell your story to someone who will listen
- The issues about which you need to be concerned are identified
- You learn what processes there are for divorce, how they work, and what is best for you (e.g., mediation, Collaborative Law, settlement counsel, or litigation)
- You find out the potential cost of each process
- You get an understanding of the time it takes for the divorce process based on the process you choose
- You learn what documents might need to be gathered/exchanged
- How to prepare for or manage your divorce may be part of the conversation
- You find out what role an attorney may have in your divorce process
- You learn about other professionals who may be helpful in preparing for and/or going through divorce
- You can ask questions
Tame Your Fears with Advice and Guidance
Many clients with whom I have consulted, after the consult say to me that they feel “so much better” – they are still going through a divorce and still feel that pain, but they have information and tools with which to think about their divorce in a way that does not feel so overwhelming. People should not be afraid of lawyers, but rather use them in the way intended, for advice and guidance.
While a consult with an attorney doesn’t make divorce any less difficult, or make all fears and anxieties about divorce go away, a consult with legal counsel can help clients manage fears and anxiety with education and information that helps with decision making and determining next steps. A consultation does not come with a commitment to actually hire an attorney then or in the future, there is no harm and nothing to fear from consulting with counsel. If legal counsel is needed, a consult with more than one attorney is also an option so that you find the right fit both in terms of who to work with and your budget.
Think about a consultation with a divorce attorney as a strategy for taming the lions, tigers, and bears!
If you would like to have a consultation to see what options are available for your family law matter, contact us.