The “D” word Part 2: Consulting your attorney

Once you and your spouse are certain that you do not wish to remain married to each other it is important to appreciate the process upon which you are about to embark to bring your marital relationship to an amicable end.

Divorce is not pleasant and is invariably traumatic and emotionally draining

Being prepared for the anticipated outcomes is important in order that you can protect yourself and your children during this very hard time.

Tips for seeing an attorney

Attorneys will bill you on a time basis. In this way, the best way to curb legal expenses is to limit the amount of time spent with your attorney (in consultation or telephonically) to that which is necessary.

At the initial consultation you should take the following information to the attorney
in order that they can properly advise you of your particular legal situation:

A copy of your Marriage Certificate, full names and ID numbers of yourself, your spouse and any minor children of the marriage, information regarding any assets (houses, vehicles) and liabilities (mortgage bonds, vehicle finance) and details of retirement pension policies and other insurance policies.

Having an idea of the financial position of your spouse is also of extreme importance.

Have a good idea of what you would like to achieve in the divorce process

Do not be unrealistic. Taking your spouse “to the cleaners” is very unlikely to occur and will, in all honesty, cost you more than you will ultimately achieve.

Your attorney is not your therapist and is a lot more expensive than a psychologist

Whilst divorce leaves you vulnerable and your attorney should be sympathetic, it is up to you to obtain the emotional support you need from the proper professionals.

Like all professionals, you must be comfortable with your attorney

Divorce, by its very nature, requires that your attorney know intimate details of you and your life; from the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage, to the salary you earn.

If you are not comfortable with your attorney, you are entitled to withdraw their mandate to act and instruct someone else, once your initial attorney has been paid in full.

You should discuss with your attorney what they will charge you as their hourly rate

It is however very difficult for an attorney to provide you with a “quote” for the divorce as a whole. One divorce is very different from the next and it is almost impossible to gauge the length of time the matter will take and the degree of complexity that may be involved.

Rather ask your attorney to keep you up to date with the costs that are being incurred.

You will generally be asked to place funds in the attorneys trust banking account. This money will be a deposit for fees and disbursements.

About the author

Andrea Goldman is a Partner at Goldman Schultz Attorneys. For more information contact info@gslaw.co.za or www.gslaw.co.za