Follow your lawyer’s advice – your paying them for a reason! – Excerpt from “The A-Z Guide to Cooperative Parenting”

Any lawyer will tell you that the best client is the one who listens and does what they are asked to do. It is important that you follow the advice of your attorney systematically. You are at your attorney’s office for a reason.

For example, you contact a lawyer and say you are in need of a divorce, having endured years and years of remaining in a loveless, contentious marriage. The attorney tells you that it would be best for one of you to move temporarily away from the marital residence until a court can hear temporary orders in your case. Your lawyer gives you a timeline for when you can go to court and begin obtaining certain orders, which would take care of custody, support, and visitation. You leave the attorney’s office convinced that the fees associated with the service provided are outrageous and you can handle your divorce on your own.

Not listening to the advice provided, you intend to live with your ex until you have reached a complete agreement as to how the divorce will be handled. You badger your ex and ask him or her why you can’t work out an agreement on your children. Things explode one night and an argument ensues; the police are called, and you are asked to leave the house. You decide now is the time to call the attorney again, now that the situation has totally broken down.

Trying to work out an agreement with your ex when your relationship is contentious is similar to disarming a bomb without any training. Bombs usually do one thing when they are disturbed—they explode. You have come to an attorney because you have lost control over dealing with your ex in making an agreement. Trying to do the job yourself will make the situation far worse than it was before.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

There will come a time when you will have the correct training necessary to communicate with your ex to resolve potential conflicts. Remember, however, that developing that relationship is a process that takes years, not days or weeks. Your lawyer’s job is to provide you with a road map on how the divorce process will commence and conclude. The road map forms the basic framework of how things will proceed to move you toward the path of resolving your conflict.

Following the road map your lawyer creates is like following a yellow brick road. Deviating from the course set out for you is often a recipe for disaster. Your lawyer’s job is to provide you with guidance on what you can expect if you take a certain position or wish to agree to a particular proposal. Remember that your lawyer has seen cases like yours before and he or she has clear opinions regarding potential problems from certain terms offered by your ex and his or her legal counsel.

Skills to Communicate

The lawyers involved create the manner and means by which you can resolve your disputes in the future. If your lawyer recommends that you see a therapist to help in communicating with your ex, take the advice. It will give you the skills needed to handle your disputes. These people are trained in the art of guiding you through your situation, and they will give you the tools needed so that you can communicate with your ex in the future.

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