White conceptual keyboard - Legal advice (blue key)Hiring the right lawyer can be a critical decision in any legal matter, but it can be invaluable in your divorce planning–especially if the process will include some type of family mediation or collaboration.

In a recent article on Mediate.com, mediator Justin Kelsey outlines some effective questions to ask yourself about your desired outcomes as well as what to ask an attorney you’re looking to hire.


According to Kelsey, you really should understand what results you want or expect before you meet with a lawyer/mediator. As he puts it, “If the lawyer doesn’t value or agree with your goals, then you are guaranteed to have a negative experience in your case.”

To that end, he suggests asking yourself:

  • What’s the most important issue you want to address?

  • Do you have certain outcomes in mind for specific situations like property division?

  • How do you hope your life will look when the legalities are over?

  • Do you have specific hopes/desires for other people involved in your case, especially in situations of child and spousal support?

  • Why are you deciding to work with an attorney, a mediator, or both?


Once you know your own objectives, Kelsey advises that you find out if the attorney is right for your situation with questions like:

  • Do you understand and can you support my objectives?

  • What are some of the ways we could achieve my goals?

  • How would your role change if I hired you as an attorney/a mediator/both?

  • What are your strategies for conflicting situations, i.e. reducing tension versus obtaining the best outcome?

  • How will you handle disagreements we may have over the best way to achieve my desired outcomes?

“Going through any type of family dispute can be extremely stressful,” says Kelsey, “and you want to find an attorney that reduces that stress by understanding you and your goals.”

As an experienced divorce attorney and mediator, I understand how connecting with your goals is critical to making them happen. Contact me for more information on how I can help you achieve your desired divorce outcomes.


Erin BirtIllinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville and Winfield.

She opened the Law Firm of Erin Birt, P.C. in 2010 to offer her clients alternative divorce resolution services, specialized collaborative divorce options and family law expertise. She and her expert team continually develop creative outcomes such as divorce mediation and family law mediation that work for all parties involved, particularly children.

Ms. Birt holds a J.D. from DePaul College of Law and is a member of the Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois, the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the DuPage County Bar Association. She is a past board member and presenter for the Mediation Council of Illinois.