Top 5 Things to Consider When Hiring a Divorce Attorney
Hiring a divorce attorney is an important step for many who are entering the process of divorce or legal separation, but this task can often leave people feeling confused and overwhelmed. Many simply do not know where to begin or what to look for in a divorce attorney. The process of legally ending a relationship is complicated enough, and it shouldn't be made any more difficult due to confusion over hiring a divorce attorney. To help clear up some confusion, here are the top five things to consider when hiring a divorce attorney.
How Comfortable Your Attorney Makes You Feel
Your divorce attorney is someone whom you will be entrusting with the task of helping you settle your case while achieving the best possible outcome. For that reason, you should feel comfortable talking to your divorce attorney and be able to trust that they always have your best interests in mind. Also, it is important that you find out whether or not you get along with this person sooner rather than weeks into your case. Set up some kind of initial interview with each divorce attorney you are considering to hire. You should be able to speak with them by phone or in a meeting at their office. During a consultation, closely observe the attorney. Did they seem comfortable with you or distracted by something else? Did they seem to have listened to you fully, or did they do all of the talking? Were they respectful during the consultation, or did they crack a joke or say something that wasn't to your taste? Your first reaction to your divorce attorney will somewhat reflect how you will feel about them as they begin working on your case. While first impressions aren't always everything, they can carry significant weight when your emotions and money are on the line. If you don't feel confident after having met a particular divorce attorney, you don't have to commit to working with them. Don't hesitate to have consultations with several different divorce attorneys before making your decision.
How Available Will Your Attorney Be
During your initial consultation with a divorce attorney, be sure to ask about their availability. Many attorneys are working on multiple cases at once, so they may be rather busy already. While this doesn't mean that they can't take your case, it is something that you should be aware of and ask questions about. Ask the attorney how they prefer to communicate with clients. Ask how quickly you should expect a response to an email you sent or voicemail you left. Inquire about how often you must have face-to-face meetings and how those will be arranged. If you have an extremely busy schedule or live far away from your attorney's office, ask if they are open to taking a meeting via webcam. As you listen to their responses, also consider how much attention you'll expect to need from your attorney as you work out your case. If you know that your case will be rather high in conflict or turbulent, you may find yourself needing more attention from your divorce attorney.
Consider The Reviews
When shopping for something like a car, you'll probably do some research about it to see how well a certain make and model has worked for other people. You'll talk to family and friends to get their opinions, and you may also turn to the internet to read articles and more reviews about the car. You'll want to be sure that the car you're buying will keep you safe on the road, so hearing about the experiences of others may help you determine whether or not you want to buy that vehicle. While purchasing a car and hiring a divorce attorney are completely different things, they are both important investments that should be taken seriously. Do some research about the divorce attorney you are considering to hire. You may be able to find a fair amount of information about the attorney online. Their website should list information about their education and experience. The attorney should also be able to provide you with some referral contacts such as past clients. Hearing what their other clients thought of this divorce attorney's services can let you know a bit more about what you should expect from them. You should also consider reviewing the attorney's records from their state or local bar association. You might find that an attorney has a history of formal complaints, or has dealt with disciplinary actions in the past. The American Bar Association offers a directory of the many state and local bar associations across the US. However, just because one person had a particular experience doesn't mean that yours will be just the same. Use your best judgement when listening to and reading attorney reviews, and take them into consideration as you weigh your options.
Don't Forget Your Budget
Hiring a divorce attorney can be expensive, but you shouldn't have to go over the budget you set for yourself. How much a divorce attorney will charge will depend on a number of factors including, but not limited to, their level of experience and their location. You might not be able to find out too much about how much an attorney will charge by reviewing their website, so you should be prepared to ask these questions. Most websites for divorce attorneys will list some contact information or a contact form that you can complete right on the website. When you make your first contact, be sure to ask if they will charge for an initial consultation. Some attorneys will advertise free initial consultations on their website, but whether or not they do, it doesn't hurt to ask just to be sure. Then during your consultation, ask for some figures on how much it will cost you to work with this divorce attorney. Many attorneys charge a retainer which will cover all if not most of your legal fees while they work on your case. Even so, know what exactly they charge for and how much. This will lessen the chance of you being surprised by fees later on. If you find that you probably cannot afford a particular divorce attorney, be upfront about it. They may be able to lower their rates a bit for you, or they can probably provide a few names of other attorneys that offer similar services within your price range. All in all, go with the best divorce attorney that you can find within your budget.
Let Your Needs Guide You
Not all divorce or separation cases are made equal. Every case is different, as are the needs of the parties involved. Know what your priorities are when it comes to your situation. Will your case likely be high-conflict and litigated in a courtroom, or will it be calmer and possibly call for an alternative method of settlement? Do you think that you will be fighting with your ex-spouse or partner on many big issues, or do you just have a couple of details to settle? Your situation will greatly impact the kind of support you need from your divorce attorney, so you'll want to choose an attorney according to your needs. If you do imagine that you could settle your case without stepping foot into a courtroom, consider hiring a divorce attorney who specializes in alternatives to litigation such as collaborative divorce. If you do imagine yourself fighting it out in the courtroom, go with someone whom you feel can offer you the protection you deserve. Your divorce attorney will be representing you and your best interests, so all in all, you'll want to settle on someone whom you feel confident about standing up to that task.
Hiring a divorce attorney shouldn't be a daunting or scary process, and you shouldn't be left feeling regrets after settling on working with someone. When making your choice, think about how the attorney makes you feel and how attentive they can be to you throughout your case. Get to know what other people think of an attorney before your hire them. Know your budget and stick to it because you should be able to find someone within your price range that suits your needs. More than anything, allow your needs to guide your choice. Make an informed decision based on your own feelings and the information you've learned about a divorce attorney. Remember that your divorce or separation is one of the most impactful experiences that you'll go through, so consider hiring a divorce attorney who makes you feel confident and secure.