Finding the Right Divorce Lawyer
The legal process of a divorce can be complex, especially if your case involves a custody dispute or a complicated financial situation. In these cases, the help of a divorce lawyer will likely be an indispensable help to you in navigating your case for a number of reasons. When you need a divorce lawyer, it's important that you choose the right one who will be able to help you reach a resolution that you want. There are many things that you should consider when looking for the right divorce lawyer. Here are a few things that you should know:
Think about your case. Try to determine the complexity of your case. If you have kids and will be in a child custody dispute with your co-parent, you will certainly want to find legal guidance. This is also true if you and your co-parent are dealing with issues surrounding the division of large assets, such as property. Also, if your co-parent has hired legal representation, you will want to do so as well. Having a divorce lawyer on your side will help to protect you and your interests during conflicts and disputes that arise during your case.
Do some research. Before you hire a divorce lawyer, do your homework and do some investigating. Talk to family and friends whom you may think have recommendations on who to hire. Also, do some online research about divorce lawyers in your area. You will want to make sure that you seek out a divorce lawyer who is qualified to practice law in your state and is well versed in family law. Websites like FindLaw or LegalMatch can be good places to start when doing research online. Check out the website of each divorce lawyer you want to know more about, reviewing the pages for the type of law they specialize in. Also take a look at their background, their level of expertise, and any reviews you can find. The divorce lawyer that you hire should have years of experience in family law with several positive reviews from past clients. Your divorce lawyer will be someone with whom you will be sharing personal information and entrusting your case to, so even just in your research, you will want to get a sense that you'll be comfortable confiding in this person. As you do your research, narrow your options down to a few divorce lawyers that you could potentially see yourself working with.
Set up an interview. Once you've chosen a few, reach out to set up a consultation. Some divorce lawyers offer free consultations while others do not, so be aware of this and ask what the fee is before you actually meet. To prepare for your meeting, compile detailed information that pertains to you and your upcoming case. Get this information down on paper so that you can pass it off to the divorce lawyers and so that you don't forget any of the important points during your meeting. You can write out a brief summary of your relationship's history with all the important points detailed such as when you were married, when your kids were born, when you first bought your house, etc. You'll also want to provide a summary of your financial history and current standing. Be honest about your income, debts, personal and shared assets, and tax history.
Be ready to ask questions. Your consultation is the time for you to truly determine whether a certain divorce lawyer is the right one for you to work with. Treat this initial meeting like an interview by asking a variety of questions that will help you make your decision. Ask about their background and qualifications. You will want to know how versed they are in family law and how much of their practice is dedicated to divorce cases. If you are looking for a divorce lawyer who is specially trained in a field such as collaborative law, ask about their experience in that field in particular. If you are concerned about a custody battle, ask about how experienced they are in handling these issues. You should also get an idea about how they tend to work with clients. You'll want to know how to get in touch of your divorce lawyer and whether other people in their office will be working on your case as well. Next, ask about how they see your case at first glance. Ask them to explain what their approach to your case will be and how long they imagine it will take to complete. Finally, you absolutely must ask questions about how much they believe that this will cost you. Legal fees can easily add up quickly, so it is important to know how they will charge you and how much. Know what the retainer is and what that will cover. It's also good to know what exactly they will charge for, such as whether it will cost you to call or email your lawyer. Also, ask about any other fees they believe you might incur during your case. It is not a bad thing if they cannot give you a firm overall total at this moment, but they should at least be able to give you information about their own fees.
Reflect and review. After your interviews, take some time to really think about your experiences with each candidate. Consider your actual experience in their office and the observations you made. Remember your first impression of their office, and of the attorney and their staff. Think about how comfortable you felt in each office and how easy it was to talk to them, especially the attorney. The stress that the divorce process already has brought upon you should not be raised by working with an attorney that makes you feel more stress. Your divorce lawyer should be someone that makes you feel at ease, and someone with whom you can easily communicate. Also, remember how they answered your questions and how confident you felt about their responses. If you are going to be trusting your divorce attorney with your case, you'll want to make sure that you can trust them back. Additionally, you will need to be honest about how much you can afford. If one divorce lawyer was great, but their fees were way out of your budget, you might want to think about going with someone you can afford. While you won't want to go out of your price range, you certainly won't want to compromise the outcome of your case by choosing someone who is under-qualified or doesn't seem like the right fit. You might have to think about how you can budget your own money and what you can do without your attorney's help in order to save on extra fees.
Settle on a decision. When you feel confident that you'd like to work with someone, contact them right away. It is possible that this attorney is working on several other cases currently or have other potential clients who are possibly looking to work with them as well. If they accept your case, ask them to get you some of the details you discussed in writing. They should be able to provide you with paperwork that explains the upfront costs and fee structure moving forward, what your schedule of meetings will look like, and what deadlines your case may be under. In the end, this is your case, and you will have to put forward an effort to get your divorce lawyer what they need to work your case and help you receive an outcome that you are happy with.