Arguably one of the most critical financial situations a person might ever face, divorce demands expertise in a host of disciplines, including taxes, real estate, property division and emotional support, to name just a few. Recognizing the multitude of challenges, the attorneys of Green Cordonnier & House have developed a team approach, with the firm’s three partners, Margo Green, Michelle House and Justin Cordonnier, along with four associate attorneys, bringing more than 100 years of experience to the team.
“Attention to detail is critical, because there are so many things to think about,” says Margo Green. “It can be overwhelming for people, and that’s why it is so important to have a team of qualified attorneys on your side. I believe our team synergy helps us excel at handling these details.”
The firm’s team representation is designed to offer especially personalized service, including providing the client with the cell phone numbers of everyone on their team. “When we first started doing that, people asked me if it was invasive,” Green notes. “And honestly? It really isn’t. Clients don’t abuse it, but they love knowing that they can reach their attorney at any time.”
A client’s specific situation determines who works on their case. “Each client’s team—a partner, an associate attorney and a paralegal—is chosen to address that client’s particular needs,” explains Michelle House. “We believe that’s most cost-effective for the client.”
People going through a divorce often struggle because they have to relinquish control, and Green says this can be very unnerving for clients. “Divorce is a tedious process, and people get frustrated with the pace,” she explains. “Your life is in someone else’s hands, and if you are the dominant partner in the relationship, or a busy CEO who’s used to saying, This is how it’s going to be, you’re not used to that. We always educate our clients up front, so they know that the judge ultimately runs the show.”
Justin Cordonnier agrees that understanding the process is key. “My job is to help my clients understand the system, so that we can best determine their needs and the best way to meet them,” he says.
Compassion for their clients’ emotional state is important, Green says, but it must be balanced with objectivity and integrity. “Sometimes it’s difficult for happily married people to understand why their friends are so distraught while going through a divorce,” she says. “But it’s because their whole life is falling apart and they have no control! Even though they may be ‘better off ’ afterward, getting there can be so difficult, and it’s worse for some people than others.” While a judge will make the final determinations regarding spousal support, property division and custody decisions, Green emphasizes that comprehensive planning and advice from an experienced attorney is the best protection. “I believe the best settlements come when your lawyer is prepared to go to trial, and that’s why reputation is so critical. After all, if the other side knows that your lawyer hasn’t done any preparation for a trial, why would they settle the case? If they know you’re ready to go, settlement is going to become much more meaningful.”