You enter the Virginia Beach law office tentatively, nervous and unsure of what to expect. You shake a hand; you sit down, you spill your guts. The person you hope will become your lawyer listens, takes some notes, and explains the process. You feel better, but as you leave, you wonder, what is the divorce lawyer going to do to earn the fee and how will I know?
Your Divorce: What to Expect
Right from the start, your lawyer will be busy doing things you can see, hear and touch. You can see results by the empirical evidence of files accumulating, forms you will fill out, and discussions you will have with your divorce attorney.
Few divorce lawyers put their clients’ questions off and ask them to trust the lawyer. “Trust me” may have been the very phrase that got you into trouble in your marriage. You need not merely trust your lawyer; you can ask just about any question and expect a clear explanation:
- What are you doing about my kids?
- How will property division work?
- I have collectible oil paintings — how are they valued?
- What if she moves to Richmond?
The first part of your work with your lawyer (yes; you both will be working on your case) will involve forms and paperwork you need to fill out, plus some payment to retain your attorney. This establishes the attorney-client relationship and prevents your lawyer from discussing the details of your case with just about anyone else.
You can trust your own senses to know your attorney is working hard for you, right in the law office, alongside your assigned paralegal. Your case file should gradually grow a bit thicker over time, and with each meeting. Your attorney and paralegal will have many questions for you, the answers to which guide the direction of your case.
Your Attorney will be Pounding the Pavement
From time to time your lawyer, or someone directed by your attorney, will need to go to the courthouse for the district in which your case will be heard. These visits are for petitions and filings, motions your attorney needs to give to the court.
These filings alert the court and your wife’s attorney on steps in the process. In the adversarial method used in Virginia and other American courts, both sides notify each other of their steps (but not necessarily their strategy) as the case unwinds. Everything is revealed and presented as fairly as possible.
Another aspect of pounding the pavement may be gathering depositions from witnesses, working with an investigator to track down property, signs of infidelity, or leads from witness statements.
There Will be Plenty of Paperwork
Interrogatories and other bits of paperwork will come and go at your lawyer’s office. You may not see all the work being done, but you will almost always see the results of the work, in the form of paperwork adding to your burgeoning case file.
Your lawyer will work with you and your paralegal to develop a game plan. Basic decisions have to be made with your agreement:
- Contested or uncontested divorce?
- Fault grounds or “no-fault” divorce?
- How will legal and physical custody of children be determined?
- Will either side pay spousal support?
- How much child support is needed?
A strategy may be tried-and-true, such as keeping your wife calm and amicable throughout the divorce so matters get settled as quickly (and inexpensively) as possible. You may ask your lawyer to opt for a more aggressive approach, or even a more laid-back strategy, if you have little reason to seek genuine conflict with your wife.
Most attorneys agree that every hour spent in a courtroom is money lost. Divorce hearings and trials take planning and practice, which is under the control of your attorney and legal team.
Once you and your lawyer arrive at a Virginia Circuit Court, however, you are both at the mercy of the court calendar. Every court moves at deliberate speed. Sometimes you wait; sometimes you get moved through steps very fast, and you may be confused about the turn of events.
Your lawyer will direct you in all aspects of any courtroom appearance. A thorough explanation will reassure you that your rights are being protected, your case is moving along, and an end is in sight.
After (seldom during) a courtroom appearance, feel free to ask your attorney about your case, about the judge’s decisions, or anything else. Remember, of course, every minute you spend with your lawyer (on the telephone, computer, through phone texts, by snail mail or in person) is billable time. Your attorney may also have a court appearance immediately following yours, so may not be able to devote a half hour to you then and there. If needed, you can follow up later.
Call The Only Family Law Firm in Virginia Representing Men Only
One thing you can do for your divorce case is call 757-383-9184 to speak with a Virginia family law attorney at The Firm For Men. You can also contact us online, and we will be ready to work for you. We only accept Virginia men as clients, so we can work hard to protect your rights.