Why should a person hire an attorney that specializes in divorce?
Even the simplest divorce can be complicated if you are unaware of the governing rules and procedures. It’s important to know your rights under the law before agreeing to a settlement. Finally, a strong attorney client relationship can mitigate the stress of a divorce.
How can a potential client be best prepared for their first meeting with you?
Be prepared to answer all questions openly and honestly. Be willing to listen, and come prepared with the questions you want answered.
What type of questions should a client ask a potential attorney?
What steps should I take now to protect myself in the long term. How does the process work, and what can I expect. It’s good to have a sense of your long range goals, and have questions surrounding meeting them.
What type of questions do you ask your potential client during the first meeting?
Basic background questions. Questions about assets and debts. Questions about children. Questions about client goals.
What do you see as being the most common fight of high-conflict couples?
Frequently, although the marriage is dissolving, the dynamics that exist in the marriage remain. I think the single most common fight I see is within the client, learning new ways to respond to their spouse’s old behavior.
What advice would you give clients in order to get a divorce with the least possible conflict and pain for all of those involved?
Find your own center, and learn to ask yourself what your needs and wants are, and what serves you best. Learn to prioritize, and identify what is really worth fighting over, and what is not. Seek counseling. This is a tough road no matter how you slice it. Develop a clear picture of where you want to be in the long run, and remember to focus on that.
What advice would you give a woman who states she has a physically abusive spouse?
Change locks on the shared residence. Seek support from a victim’s advocacy group, and obtain a protective order if necessary.
How do you help a client determine what she should fight for and what she should let go of?
I try to focus on long range planning with clients. I also try to guide the client to seeking out what is really important to them. I look at the law, and try to advise clients according to which issues are worth settling .
What is your view on mediation? Do you recommend it and can you explain what it is?
It depends on the case. Mediation is a process wherein the parties, and their attorneys, sit down with the mediator to see if they can reach a resolution of issues without having to ask the judge to decide. It has benefits, including the informal setting, wherein the parties can sometimes reach resolution much more quickly than in the context of a court hearing.
I don’t recommend mediation without at least first consulting with an attorney to review your case, and determine what your legal rights are. It is easy to agree to a settlement that is much less than you might receive in a court hearing if you haven’t done this important preparatory work. Once a settlement is reached, it can be difficult, if not impossible to review.
What is the best divorce advice you have to offer women who are just beginning this journey?
Breathe deep and take a long view. Know your rights. Know what is important to you, and what is not. Be willing to stand up for yourself when necessary, and to compromise when necessary.
Amy K. Butler, Esquire
64 Main Street, Suite 26, Montpelier, VT 05602
Years in Practice: 11