Attorney Amanda Colon’s “5 Things Your Divorce Attorney Should Be Telling You” as seen in Tampa Bay Business Journal
1. Adult children are still the children.
Adult children often have the same feelings of grief, sadness, and anxiety that minor children experience during their parents’ divorce. Try to buffer adult children from the business of the divorce just as you would minor children. Family dynamics moving forward will be forever changed. Graduations, weddings, and grandchildren will bring the family members back together for years to come. Handle your divorce in a way that allows you and your adult children to fully enjoy these wonderful events to come.
2. Be transparent with financial information and discovery.
The process of turning over financial information and documents is called discovery. For the most part, the discovery process is dictated by settled rules and statutes. Issues with discovery can waste thousands of dollars in litigation fees and costs. A party who fails to timely or completely produce the required documents may find themselves paying not only their own attorney to defend them in a hearing, but also possibly paying the other side’s attorney’s fees and costs as well. Discovery issues make it more difficult to settle a case as it hinders the parties’ ability to make informed offers.
3. Follow your attorney’s instructions, and stay organized.
Family law litigation is often expensive. It is also an extremely document-intensive process, and financial documents need to be updated throughout the litigation. The earlier you can implement a digital system for storing the numerous statements, documents, and reports, the less time you will spend complying with the many disclosure requirements of family law. Staying organized will help keep your legal fees lower. Create separate digital folders for financial statements; retirement accounts; child-related records; communications with your spouse via text and emails; photos and videos; and a calendar of events/incidents. The key to successful litigation is to be able to quickly compile the needed proof and exhibits for hearings and trial.
4. Litigating “the principle of the matter” can be costly, with devastating results.
Your attorney should encourage you to make financial decisions the same way you would make business decisions. Evaluate the sense in spending legal fees arguing over an item of property that could be purchased outright for less than the amount of time it would take to litigate the issue. Your attorney should explain the current status of the law and local procedures to you, and set realistic expectations of what may happen in your case based on the law and facts. You should understand the number of issues in your case that need to be litigated, whether experts will be needed, whether there are any complicated questions of law, and the likelihood of prevailing on those issues at trial.
5. We can litigate, but that’s not where we are going to start.
Your attorney should have extensive trial experience and be comfortable in the courtroom, but they should also have the understanding that in most cases, the trial courts are not the best place to resolve family disputes. The court system was not created to resolve family disputes, it was designed to resolve criminal and civil matters. It’s what we use, but it’s not usually the best way to deal with family matters. Your attorney should be a creative, think-outside-the-box problem-solver, and should be coaching you to think the same way. Many family law issues can be resolved in a way where both parties benefit. Rarely does that happen in a courtroom.
Attorney Amanda Colón is a board certified specialist in marital and family law and a Florida Supreme Court certified marital and family law mediator. She has an AV Preeminent Martindale-Hubbell rating and has been selected as a Florida Super Lawyer and Florida Rising Star by the rating service Super Lawyer. Visit https://www.olalaw.com/meet-our-team/amanda-colon/