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A Look at the Legal Coaching Client and My Role as a Legal Coach
The economic downturn has caused individuals to question whether retaining an attorney for full representation and litigating their divorce is really the best option for their family. It took an economic collapse for divorcing parties to seek alternatives to the traditional, adversarial and costly model of divorce. The availability of information via the internet has created a more educated, savvy and frugal client. Clients are looking to participate more and pay less. Whether one retains an attorney, mediates or chooses self-representation, most individuals going through divorce seek out information from as many sources as possible to determine which option works best for them.
For the self-represented party, who today make up the majority of the family court docket, the internet has provided the public with an abundance of free information in the area of family law, an individual choosing self-representation can benefit from the guidance and support of an experienced family law attorney to condense, streamline and personalize this wealth of information to their specific needs and issues. As an experienced family lawyer of over 20 years, I have created Connecticut Legal Coaching, LLC in an effort to support and empower individuals facing the challenge of self-representation.
The Legal Coaching Client
During the past year I have had the opportunity to coach many self-represented parties. One might assume that these individuals seeking legal coaching were either unemployed or did not have the means to hire an attorney. Au contraire, many are employed, own homes and have the resources to convert to full representation if later chosen.
A recurring theme amongst my coaching clients is a need to understand and participate in what is a life changing event. These individuals want to understand the steps to their divorce process, what they need to do to move it forward, what the timelines and court dates mean, and they come to me for answers. I help them to understand the law, advise them of their rights and obligations, and together we discuss specific concerns surrounding parenting, finances and ultimately how to reach a settlement with their spouse. I share with my clients the various factors a court considers when calculating support and dividing assets so they can start budgeting and planning for their future. I offer the same guidance in a post-divorce matter to individuals looking to increase or decrease a current support order or enforce a provision in their agreement. While legal coaching is a choice to many, to most it is a necessity.
For those with limited means, I have created affordable weekly workshops designed to meet their budget. During my workshops, individuals obtain valuable legal guidance that will assist them in their divorce process so they too can benefit from the advantage of legal coaching and navigate successfully on their own. Individual coaching is available on an hourly, pay as you go basis, at a reduced rate.
Straightforward Advice for the Legal Coaching Client
Whether I am working one-on-one with a legal coaching client or speaking to a group in one of my divorce workshops, I believe it is my obligation to prepare my clients for the divorce process and the road that lies ahead to insure that they a) enter the process with realistic goals and expectations b) are not seeking to punish or retaliate against their spouse either financially or through their children c) accept that the court system does not always guarantee a fair and just settlement and d) understand that there may come a time when taking the path of least resistance versus pursuing costly and protracted litigation typically results in the best possible outcome both financially and emotionally for the family.
A successful divorce is not determined by a win or a loss, it is measured by how one feels when the process is over.
When my clients leave with their dignity and integrity in tact, a sense of relief and finality, and the belief that they have contributed in a positive and productive way to attain a reasonable and realistic result, that is my definition of success.
Connecticut Legal Coaching
"The Rules of Professional Conduct" encourage all attorneys to make legal advice and access to the judicial system available to all. I firmly believe that building Legal Coaching into my Family Law Practice will allow me to assist more individuals who otherwise would be entering the court system with little or no legal advice. Legal Coaching not only serves the individual who comes to me for support, assurance and guidance but it is an invaluable service to the court system and fellow members of the Connecticut Bar who are struggling with this new and increasing class of self-represented litigants.
If the court refuses to award alimony at the final hearing, and if alimony is not included in the final judgment, neither spouse can return to court in the future and request alimony due to a change in circumstance. Many final divorce judgments in Connecticut award $1 a year in alimony because this preserves the right to revisit the alimony issue if circumstances change.
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