Will a Virginia divorce attorney pressure me to hire them?

Posted on Mar 14, 2022 by Katie Carter

Meeting with a divorce attorney for the first time is a scary thing. Contemplating a divorce at all is scary. In fact, most of the women that I talk to initially are in the very early stages of the divorce process, and aren’t even 100% sure that they want to pursue a divorce at all – let alone with me as their attorney. It’s a huge decision, right?

I mostly mean the divorce itself, but actually choosing an attorney to hire to represent you is a big decision, too – make no mistake. Ultimately, the attorney you choose to hire will set the tone for your entire case. She will shape things in a lot of ways; ways you might not even realize yourself at the time, especially since you probably don’t have a whole lot to compare her to.

I find that a lot of people – men and women – say that they want their lawyer to be a “real pit bull”. I get it. You’re gearing up for an event that you’re afraid of, against an adversary who used to be your partner in life. Whether you’ve suffered abuse or whether you’re just afraid about the levels he might stoop to in order to deprive you of what’s rightfully yours (or you’re not even sure what’s rightfully yours), it’s a situation where you feel like you’re not playing to your own advantage. You want someone to help you level the playing field a bit. Someone who’ll be aggressive about your points, who’ll fight when you’re too scared, who will put your interests first and won’t be afraid to stand up for you. Strong, self-assured, and confident; all the things, in short, that you’re not right now. A pit bull, in short.

The pit bull thing, though, is a bit overplayed, in my experience. Though there certainly are lawyers I’d categorize this way, I don’t think that hiring a pit bull for a lawyer is always the best route to take. In many cases, it’s better to have a calmer, quieter, more rational lawyer. Sure, being aggressive can be the right route to take, and it’s always good to have someone in your corner to take it to the mat, if it comes to that. But, in many cases, in divorce, as in so many other things, more subtle diplomacy can and very, very often does ultimately win the day.

I’ve seen lots of cases where the fight becomes more important to the parties than the victory, and their lawyers rally to the occasion. They fight and fight, and spend and spend, to the point where their piece of the pie, so to speak, is dramatically reduced. Not only that, but the relationship is so deteriorated that the parties struggle to coparent together effectively, and find themselves in court again and again over the smallest custody and visitation or support issues. Is this a failure of the parties, or of the lawyers?

There’s no ‘one size fits all’ in divorce. And there’s no one path to divorce that will be the best in every case – though, probably, any old divorce attorney can get you divorced. If what you’re looking for is a good divorce – and, of course, everyone’s definition of a good divorce is a bit different – then you’re in the right place, and you’re asking the right questions. When you sit down with your attorney, you should be able to tell her what your end goals are, and come up with a plan to achieve them.

But will you feel a lot of pressure to hire the attorney? Contrary to popular opinion, we’re not – for the most part – like used car salesmen. We’re not here to hit a specific quota of divorces in a given month.

The divorce attorney you hire shouldn’t pressure you, or make you feel like you’re in a high pressure sales situation. I hate those, don’t you? I’m pretty sure that even if someone was selling me the solution to all of my problems at a very reasonable rate but came at me like a timeshare salesperson, I wouldn’t buy the solution. I’m just too stubborn.

Maybe you’re like me – or maybe you’d buy, and then be annoyed at yourself for succumbing to the pressure. It doesn’t really matter, because, in either case, the outcome isn’t good. A divorce is incredibly important, and you want to feel like you’ve hired the right person to accomplish your goals.

The right person should be someone to whom you can speak comfortably. Divorces raise all sorts of hairy issues, so someone that you can be honest with – and who’ll give you honest feedback about your chances of success on each particular point – is a must. You’ll probably find yourself talking about your sex life, your finances, your children, and other emotional and hot button issues. You may find that some of the decisions you’ve made, from a legal perspective, aren’t the strongest.

You’ll need to be able to lay it all out for the attorney, and then listen to the feedback you receive, so that you can adjust your course and come up with the best way forward to achieve your goals.

You should be able to ask questions, about things like cost, and timing, and difficulties that might arise. You should feel like you understand, and that your attorney wants to explain things to you so that you understand and can make informed choices. You shouldn’t feel like a file on a shelf somewhere and that’s it.
You should be able to talk about alternatives to litigation – like mediation, collaboration, and separation agreements. You should feel able to choose from between the different options, and not just to be steered in a particular direction. There are a lot of choices to make at the beginning of the process, and one of the biggest and most important choices is that of which attorney to hire.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment to see if we’re a good fit, give us a call at 757-425-5200.