I recently came across a posting online whereby divorcees were discussing divorce proceedings. Some of them had finalized their divorces, while others had just started.
All sorts of matters were discussed, including surveys and contacts for the cheapest divorce lawyer in Singapore, where to get free consultations with Divorce Lawyers, etc.
Ideas were exchanged amicably, but it then got to a point whereby a user posted her lengthy personal divorce story, and then i realized something. Almost half her story was in regards to the Divorce Lawyer she engaged for her case. And it wasn’t good.
Interestingly, this lady had changed lawyers twice, as the first two were too expensive and not responsive, respectively.
Let me summarize the problems she had with the Divorce Lawyers :
1. Expensive initial consultation. Stepping into the lawyer’s office and talking to a solicitor for about an hour already cost her $500. This is even before she put pen to paper. Granted, she mentioned that it was a fancy office. I hope it was worth the view.
2. Upfront Deposit/Exorbitant Fees. She was asked to pay a $6,000 deposit to engage the Lawyer. Uncanny. Payment is usually done after the service is rendered and the divorce finalized.
Related : Why are legal fees so expensive?
3. Lack of communication/response. 6500 dollars in, but communication was mostly via email, and by office staff. Not the Lawyer himself. Lawyers are busy people, so yes – email communication is acceptable.
So at this point, she had lots of questions about her divorce (with regards to above), but because all emails were being answered by the admin staff.. Well you get the idea.
I guess this is maybe why smaller firms are better if you want to get more facetime with the Lawyer. Divorce is complicated, and has a lot of moving parts. You are essentially paying someone to help you do the legwork, fight for you, while at the same time being able to explain technical matters like alimony, family law, divorce settlements, etc so you don’t become a passenger in a car.. just taken along for the ride.
4. No “fit”. This happens when you don’t feel comfortable enough with the Lawyer you’re working with. Sometimes, they can overpromise to get the job. They only tell you the things you want to hear.
You need a Lawyer you can talk to like a friend. They listen, assess, and can give useful advice. If they think the situation is stacked against you, they can be honest and tell you it’s gonna be difficult.
A simple test when trying to determine a ‘fit’ is called the flight test (i don’t actually know what it’s called, so i’m renaming for simplicity). Imagine you are on a plane and you had to talk to this Lawyer who is sat next to you the entire flight. Would you be able to do it?
If your answer is yes, then you’ve hit the jackpot.
If it’s no… then you are risking switching lawyers later on, so save your time and money and look for a better one while you still can.
5. Unconstructive Advice. This was the problem she faced with her second lawyer. The advice given had no ‘substance’. Answers to her questions would consist of ‘maybe’ or ‘it depends’. Heck, even I can give you that same advice, for free!
There are definitely more problems faced by clients that I did not mention. But I believe these are some of the more common ones.. Well, in Singapore at least.
I guess the points i’m trying to make here is :
Do not be afraid to shop around, and don’t settle for the first lawyer you talk to, unless you feel comfortable talking with them and the legal fees they are charging.
In the initial consultation, have a list of things you’d wanna clarify with the Lawyer (maintenance, custody of children, what are the chances of…etc etc.).
This can help prevent you from feeling like you are bothering the lawyer later on.
This article was written by a contributor, and edited by our Admin.