There's just no getting around the fact that divorce is never fun. Even if you're the person wanting the divorce, the process is miserable.
The attorney's job is to minimize the misery, streamline the process, and use his/her experience and judgment to do the job efficiently. Divorce cases are handled on an hourly basis. The more work the attorney does, the more the client is billed. Efficiency matters!
“Thoughtfully Aggressive” has been my goal throughout my career. It means that I get the things done that need to be done and get them done thoroughly–without being a loose cannon. Unlike the stereotypical divorce lawyer on TV, hotheaded is not the way to go. The credibility of the attorney and the client is the most important asset in a divorce case, and impolsiveness does not secure credibility.
In this day of budget cuts and tight family budgets, the judges have no patience for attorneys who waste their clients' money and time. Every week I see at least one new client who has come to see me because the original divorce was done quickly, but the long-term result is chaotic. Lack of attorney input may save you money at the outset, but will beleaguer you with long-term problems and the likelihood of going back to court.
I don't fix my own car, and I don't advise people to do their own divorce. There are many books, articles, websites, and opinions out there, but Colorado law is specific to Colorado. Tax law is specific to IRS Department of Revenue rules, and pensions are subject to a federal statute called E.R.I.S.A. If the specific language is not used in the division of a pension, many years down the line, long after the attorneys are gone, the money a person expects to receive isn't there or the benefits aren't there, or someone else is the beneficiary.
nowadays encompasses aspects of estate planning, real estate, business valuation, parenting, psychology, and, of course, negotiation and people skills. Just as you wouldn't want a cardiologist who dabbles in open-heart surgery, you want an attorney who has handled many divorces–preferably many divorces in the jurisdiction in which your case will be heard–and one who has the experience and judgment to navigate you through the process with minimum damage to you and the long-term family legacy.