If a divorce is in your future, one of the most important decisions you and your spouse will make is your choice of an attorney to represent you. That choice will normally decide the outcome of your case. It can make the difference between a divorce that is drawn out, costly and combative, or one in which you and your spouse reach an amicable settlement out-of-court.

For this reason, it is important for you and your spouse to choose lawyers who can work together. Lawyers who work together are more likely to reach a good outcome for both parties. For this reason, your choice of an attorney something you and your spouse should both discuss.

Divorce is always a painful experience, but it does not have to drain financial resources that you and your ex will both need to maintain separate households. Nor does divorce need to create lasting bitterness between you and your ex. Maintaining good communications with your ex is important, especially if you have children.

There are different types of family law attorneys. Some choose an approach that is collaborative and cooperative. Other are combative and often litigate in court. Choosing an attorney who has a reputation for being a pit bull may make you feel protected, especially if you are angry with your spouse. Just remember than you and your spouse will pay the bill for litigation when it comes due. The cost is both financial and emotional.

Your goal and the goal of your attorneys should be an out-of-court settlement. Two people can usually reach a better decision than one judge. Your lawyer should be there to explain the law, protect your interests and help you reach a settlement-rather than fan the flames of anger.

Attorney websites are a good source of information. Search for terms such as collaborative divorce, cooperative divorce. Talk to your attorney about other attorneys that he or she has worked with in the past.

If your spouse is not with you during your consultation, explain to your lawyer what your spouse is like-and be fair about it. Does your partner want the divorce? Will he or she want to reach an out-of-court settlement? What type of attorney would your spouse be likely to choose on his or her own? Finally, talk with your spouse about your choices of attorney.

It may seem unusual for you and your spouse to select attorneys who have a good working relationship. However, the adversarial approach rarely leads to a good outcome in divorce.

Sheldon E. Finman is a family law attorney in Fort Myers who seeks less adversarial ways to dissolve a marriage.