By Pamela Edwards-Swift, CFLS

In a divorce situation, the choice you make concerning the road you travel in the divorce process is equally important. Do you choose mediation, collaboration, or litigation? Do you do it yourself, use a paralegal or use an attorney? These choices are important and will impact your future significantly.

What I believe is very important is to speak with a professional regarding all of your options. Choose a law firm that offers all of these services. Should we mediate? Should we collaborate? Should we litigate? Make certain the firm you choose to consult with is educated and has experience in all of these areas. Also, when meeting with the professional, find out what other services they offer. A diversified attorney, educated in all of these areas, can help you make the right choice for your personal situation, all the while making certain you are not compromising your situation.

It?s also important to start first with an attorney, not a paralegal, or an on-line service, for several reasons. An on-line service cannot answer your specific question. For example, they may have a section for Frequently Asked Questions, but it is not going to be specific to your needs. Divorces, no matter how simple, are not ?one size fits all.? A paralegal, may be knowledgeable, but they cannot give you legal advise. Paralegals are merely document preparers who are only allowed to fill out the court forms pursuant to your specific instruction. If you are worried about costs, choose a family law firm that can give you a series of choices, according to your needs and financial resources.

There are those times when your choices are minimized. Perhaps you have been served with restraining orders, or your spouse has already filed and scheduled a court date. You still have choices, but they may be limited, at least for now. For that reason, it?s important to keep as many options open as you possibly need. Choosing a family law firm that limits their practice to family law, and has attorneys on staff educated in the particular service you need is extremely important.

Keep your options open because the choices you make today will impact your future, and more importantly the future of your children.

Pamela Edwards-Swift, Certified Family Law Specialist, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014; Southern California Super Lawyer