DEALING WITH OVERLY EMOTIONAL DIVORCE CLIENTS
As a divorce attorney, you face a difficult task, but one that is potentially rewarding beyond the attorney’s fees that you collect. In the best of circumstances, you may find ways to shepherd a person through a difficult season and into a fresh start in a new phase of life.
However, getting all the way through to finalization of the divorce and beyond is rarely a simple, easy process. The opportunities for you to misstep in your representation of your client are many, and any errors you make may prove costly for your client and possibly even your own practice or firm.
If you find yourself already struggling with the pressures that can mount when a divorce case looks like it may turn ugly, or if it is already a full-tilt war between the parties, you have a responsibility to show up as the adult in the room. The way you conduct yourself, especially during the opening exchanges between parties, contributes to the tone for the rest of the divorce, which may take months or even years to complete.
It is normal for you to feel overwhelmed by overly emotional clients, and, in some cases, you may feel inclined to punish them in small ways for their behavior. It is always wise to acknowledge these emotions calmly to yourself and place them aside to maintain your professionalism.
You may find that it is also use full to consult with a seasoned family law attorney with years of experience in his or her own practice. This professional guidance can help you maintain perspective and serve as a guide through some of the more technical aspects of divorce, allowing you to deliver your best work to a client who dearly needs it.
Remaining professional during document production and discovery
If you spend any time in the divorce and family law field, you know that not all attorneys base their practice on seeking fair, professional agreements for spouses. Some practices make a name for themselves as power players or outlaw-style attorneys who fight dirty to get results.
If this is not how you want to run your practice, then you have to be better than the outlaw. You must bring a degree of professionalism to the table that shines on its own merits, and maintain this professionalism while others lean into emotionalism to manipulate the situation.
This can make client relationships difficult. Many clients see their spouse breaking the rules or flirting with doing so, and want to respond in kind. It is rarely a long-term solution to give in to this desire. You bear the responsibility of fielding your clients’ emotional responses and returning professional, impeccably executed work that brings as much grace as you can to every divorce.
At the beginning stages of a divorce, there is often a flurry of paperwork between parties as both sides decide on their priorities and strategies. Be sure that you engender trust with your client so that he or she has the greatest likelihood of fully disclosing or producing everything you ask for.
If you fall into emotional patterns of response, the case may get away from you, or your relationship with the client may grow beyond its professional bounds.
Should you believe that you need some guidance to set the right tone for your current problem case, or if you have concerns about getting a case back on track, don’t hesitate to reach out to an established family law attorney. With the perspective and expertise of an experienced family law attorney, you can meet your own expectations of quality and deliver the service that your client truly deserves.