By Gary Direnfeld
Choosing a lawyer who will only channel your upset into that settlement process will likely escalate conflict and prolong settlement. The higher the conflict and longer the settlement process, the greater the costs, financially and emotionally. The likelihood of continuing a reasonable co-parenting relationship will also be diminished as the residual anger will live on way past any settlement achieved.
In choosing a lawyer, you want someone familiar with the issues you are grappling with; someone who maintains a practice committed to family law; and most importantly, someone who won't tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to know.
If your lawyer only strokes your ego, seeks to appease you and act as your mouthpiece, then you may have one that will inadvertently ratchet up the very conflict that prompted your separation in the first place.
Further, if your lawyer is ready to jump to action only on the basis of your account of issues, then too, your conflict may be inadvertently escalated.
Find a lawyer who appears reasonable, listens closely, yet seeks to understand what may be prompting the issues on the other side and also looks to understand your own contribution to distress. After that, consider the lawyer who supports nonlitigious strategies to achieve settlement. These include mediation, collaborative law and lawyer-assisted negotiation. Your lawyer should be able to explain the differences in these approaches and if your lawyer cannot or appears dismissive of them, move on.
Remember, your lawyer is not your therapist. Do not work out your anger with your ex through the legal process, but attend counselling if that is an issue. You want your lawyer to remain reasonable and help you focus on peaceful resolution even if addressing challenging issues.