Chryssikos Law Firm

One Piece of Advice

I was recently asked, “what’s the one piece of advice you would give a person considering the divorce process?” Frankly, this space isn’t big enough to discuss all the answers that I considered. But ultimately, I keep coming back to this one important point:

Make sure you have good communication with your lawyer.

That may sound basic. Surely there are more practical pieces of advice to share. But once you or your spouse has made the important decision end the marriage, the next most important decision you’ll make is who will you choose to represent you and advise you. That’s the person who’ll be helping you navigate the process, answering your questions, working with you during emergencies, etc. In short, that person will be your personal divorce consultant.

First of all, the attorney you consult can often help shape what the divorce process will look like. Will your divorce be handled using alternative methods, such as mediation or collaborative divorce, or will it require litigation? Does the attorney with whom you consult even mention alternatives to litigation? Litigation is the generally the most costly and time-consuming option for a divorce client. As a result, an attorney may only discuss that option with you, either purposefully or for lack awareness of the other, often better, options. Either way, that attorney has shaped what your divorce will look like.

Secondly, you want to have an open and welcoming rapport with your attorney. Does the attorney get back to you promptly? Does he or she take your call, and answer your questions? Does the attorney seem compassionate and patient? Likewise, are you comfortable discussing your personal matters with the attorney? Open and frank communication, all of which is designed to achieve your goals, will make the process is easier. You may be dealing with a difficult spouse, a difficult judge, or a difficult attorney on the other side. The last thing you need to deal with is difficulty with your own attorney. Your attorney should help you understand the process and guide your decisions, not make the process more difficult or make important decisions without discussion or explanation.

Lastly, understand that good communication between you and your attorney will usually lead to a better final outcome. Open and clear communication means that you and your attorney are on the same page as to your goals and your priorities. You’re also on the same page in terms of the cost of the process, so you don’t get a nasty surprise in the form of an unexpectedly large attorney bill when the case is over.

Remember that a Judgment of Divorce or Settlement Agreement is final and binding with few exceptions. Poor communication during the case will lead to a poor understanding of your goals, an unsatisfactory outcome, and one which cannot likely be changed.

So what can you do to ensure good communication with your attorney? There’s no cookbook recipe for this, but here are some tips:

1) Talk to the attorney, ask questions, and try to gauge whether he or she is patient and takes the time to explain things in an understandable way. Throwing out legal jargon and talking over your head may demonstrate knowledge, but it’s not good communication.

2) Interview around, but don’t interview endlessly. Meeting a few attorneys can be a good thing because it gives you some perspective. But there’s a point of diminishing returns, and too much interviewing can lead to confusion.

3) Look at the attorney’s bio on their website or LinkedIn. Are they members of the Family Law Section of the State Bar? Are they involved in committee work? Have they taken on leadership positions? Do they handle collaborative divorce or serve as a mediator? These factors can be important because, not only do they demonstrate a commitment to family law, but they reflect an ability to work with and communicate with others within the profession.

For more information, please contact us at (248) 290-0515 or email

10.0James W. Chryssikos