Sometimes I can hardly believe I’m getting a divorce, but I am. Or at least, I’ve taken some of the steps towards it.
My husband and I have been separated for two years. Two years is a long time. I haven’t seen him in a year. He also hasn’t seen our son in a year. It’s a whole thing, and while it’s nothing to laugh at I’ve finally reached the point where I can talk about it without feeling hot and angry and sad and betrayed and a whole other range of emotions we won’t even get into. Part of the reason we aren’t divorced yet lies in the bullshit idea that he had which was us co-filing, but the other part lies in the fact that finding someone to walk with you on that path is hard. I’m not talking about dating here, either. I’m talking about a divorce lawyer.
Every relationship is different, so it only stands to reason that each breakup, separation and divorce would be unique too, right? I never imagined I’d be needing a divorce lawyer, much less one with an expertise on abandonment and custody issues but there you have it. That’s what I needed. And I was finding exactly what I wanted because I realized if I’d been a bit more choose-y with my partner, I wouldn’t have needed a divorce lawyer in the first damn place. Or something. I spent weeks researching local law firms before choosing to call and ask for one particular lawyer by name. I’m glad I did.
It’s an emotional time, divorce. Even the most amicable of divorces come with a host of emotions, assets and other shit like the relationships between in-laws and mutual friends and more and more and more. If you’re cool with signing on with the first lawyer you find who practices family law, you are WAY more laid back than I. If you’re a little more leery, we should have coffee and compare tips because there are a lot of lawyers and even more laws and loopholes and terms and I just really love coffee. But seriously. divorce is hard. Finding a lawyer can be hard. Feeling secure is important. I love my lawyer because she’s got a great resume, and I appreciate her knowledge and professionalism but more than anything I appreciate her compassion and how relatable she is. I feel safe putting my family’s wellbeing (and a lot of money) in her hands.
If you’ve come to a place where you are ready to find a lawyer, here are a few tips to help you find someone who fits your needs and will help you through the process. Remember: your divorce lawyer will be your partner through a tough time and there is no need to make it more difficult than it already is. I truly believe that comfort, open communication and a positive professional relationship is key.
- Be just as selective choosing a lawyer as you would be choosing a caregiver for your child or a loved one. There is a lot on the line. Research law firms in your area, and find ones that specialize in family law. Look at partners, lawyers and read through testimonials. Call and inquire – get more information. If you’re lucky enough to co-file, be sure that you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse are both comfortable with the person you’ve trusted to handle the divorce.
- Take recommendations and referrals. Just like when I’m looking for a new hairstylist, dentist or doctor, I asked around. If the people I know and trust put their faith in someone, that person moves to the top of my list.
- Arrange a consultation. Arrange more than one. Meet with different lawyers. This person is going to be your partner during a very difficult time. If you’re not comfortable with him or her during your consultation, it’s OK to move on to someone else. Don’t make a difficult time more difficult. Ask questions. Ask lots of questions! And then answer the questions they ask you. You’ll find the right fit through communication.
- Know what you want. Write it down, if you have to. Have pertinent information ready to present to your lawyer when you meet, whatever it may be. If you have questions, right them down and bring them along.
- Once you’ve found a lawyer, be sure to bring a notebook with you to your meetings. Take notes. It can be a lot to take in, especially when your emotions are running high. See above. You can bring information home with you, just as you brought information to the office.
As hard as it is to accept that your relationship is ending, hiring a lawyer is important. Even if your breakup is amicable, let a lawyer do their job and deal with the legalities while you deal with the emotions. If you’re not quite ready to talk to a lawyer or just want to check out some information about family law in Canada, you can do so by visiting the Department of Justice Family Law page right here. I’m no expert, but I definitely recommend familiarizing yourself with the terms, laws and processes as you prepare to take the next steps. It was incredibly helpful for me.
Good luck and be strong. You’ve got this.
Photos are the property of the author.