Choosing a Divorce Lawyer
The outcome of your divorce proceedings will change the course of your life forever, so invest the time and money to find the lawyer who will do the best job for you. Here’s how to find the right divorce lawyer for your unique needs
Choosing a divorce lawyer to represent you may be the most important decision you’ll make during your divorce proceedings. Begin your search by talking to those you know: ask for recommendations from a close friend or family member (your friends and your family – not your spouse’s) who have been through divorce themselves. If you can’t get any personal recommendations, there are professional organizations that offer lawyer referral services, such as The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
“How much” lawyer do you actually need? The best (and most expensive) litigator money can buy, or someone who can handle the whole thing quickly and inexpensively? Is it important to find a lawyer who’s “compatible” with you: one who understands and respects your thoughts and feelings about your divorce? Your answers to these questions will be determined by your own unique circumstances, but here are some basic guidelines to help put you on the right track.
Choosing a Divorce Lawyer: Finding the Right One
As in any profession, there are good lawyers and bad lawyers. It’s up to you to do your homework – and to ask the right questions – to determine which group your lawyer falls into. The best lawyers will listen to your concerns, ask questions about what you hope to achieve, and give you an honest assessment of your chances of achieving your goals. At the end of your initial consultation, ask yourself whether you feel comfortable with this lawyer, and whether you respect each other’s positions and opinions.
When choosing a divorce lawyer, look for someone who:
Practices matrimonial or family law.
Has worked with – and can recommend – other professionals, such as forensic accountants, CDFA® professionals, business valuators therapists, and custody/parenting experts.
Has a lot of relevant experience. When choosing a divorce lawyer, look for one who has worked on many divorce cases similar to yours. If your lawyer is fresh out of law school, make sure he or she has an experienced mentor at the law firm – one with an excellent knowledge of divorce law – to go over your case.
Is a skilled negotiator. If your case can be settled without a protracted court battle, you’ll save a great deal of time, trouble, and money.
Is reasonable. You want someone who’ll advise you to settle if the offer is fair – not encourage you to have the case drag on to satisfy your need for revenge.
Is compatible with you. You don’t have to become best friends, but you must be comfortable enough with your lawyer to be able to share with him or her some deeply personal aspects of your life. If you can’t bring yourself to disclose information relevant to the case, you’ll be putting your lawyer at an extreme disadvantage. Your lawyer isn’t your therapist or confessor, but he or she does need to be aware of all pertinent facts in order to do a good job for you.
Is totally candid. Your lawyer should be up-front about what he or she thinks your divorce will cost, how a judge would be likely to rule on your issues, if there are holes or any problems with your case, and whether or not you have any aces up your sleeve.
Is not in conflict with your best interests. Don’t share a divorce lawyer with your spouse; don’t hire your spouse’s best friend, business partner, or any member of your spouse’s family to represent you – even if you’re on good terms with them. Aside from the obvious conflict of interest involved, you’ll have created enemies – and probably a whole new family feud – before your divorce settles.
Is more than a pretty face. This may seem painfully obvious, but given our frail human nature, it bears noting here: don’t choose a lawyer based on physical attractiveness. You’re looking for competence – not for a date on Saturday night
Tips for How to Choose a Divorce Lawyer Who Will Be Right for You
Why Choosing the Right Divorce Lawyer Matters
Every attorney has his or her own ideas, beliefs, philosophies, and ways of doing business. Every lawyer has his or her own approach to divorce. Most importantly, every lawyer is good at some things, and not so good at others.
Some lawyers are amazing in court, but would make a total mess in a Collaborative Divorce. Others are great negotiators, but not particularly good trial lawyers. Some lawyers believe in mediation. Others think it’s a waste of time.
Different divorce lawyers excel at handling different types of divorces. Some divorce lawyers have strong financial backgrounds and are great at sorting out complicated financial issues. Others are better at managing high conflict divorces, or divorces involving a narcissist. Still others have streamlined their practices, and are set up to help people with limited resources get a divorce efficiently and cost-effectively
Decide what divorce process you want to use FIRST.
Most people start their divorce by hiring a lawyer. THEN they get divorced using whatever divorce process the lawyer signs them up for. The problem with approaching divorce that way is that you’ll either end up getting divorced in whichever way your lawyer (not YOU!) chooses, or you’ll end up with a lawyer who isn’t necessarily skilled at getting divorced the way that YOU want.
Decide what kind of legal service that you need.
While everyone who is going through a divorce needs legal advice (at least in my humble opinion!), not everyone needs a $500 per hour big city divorce law firm on their case.
Finding “The One”: How To Choose A Divorce Lawyer
Everyone has a favorite song, a food they hanker for above all others, and a particular set of preferences about personal style. There’s a reason Baskin-Robbins has 31 different flavors of ice cream—- each of us crazy, wonderful humans come with our own unique likes and dislikes.
As with ice cream and iPod playlists, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to choosing your divorce attorney. Divorce is one of the most personal experiences you can have. Standing naked in front of your spouse for the first time has got nothing on the feeling of vulnerability that comes with opening up about the questionable financial choices you may have made in your marriage, that time you flew off the handle at your toddler when you stepped on the nine millionth lego, or the evolution (ahem, deterioration) of your sex life.
The attorney who was the perfect fit for your neighbor, your sister, or your co-worker may not be right for you. And it may not just be a matter of personalities meshing: every divorce is as unique as the parties splitting, and finding a lawyer with experience in the specifics of your case— be it custody squabbles, property, or domestic violence— is key to setting up the New Normal that fits your unique goals.
First, the issues at play in your divorce. For instance: Do you have kids? You’ll need someone skilled at custody and child support issues. Own a business with your spouse? Tap someone who has experience with business valuation. If gaslighting, violence or intimidation were at play in your split, you absolutely need someone with experience in domestic violence. Jot down everything specific to your case
Second, you want to consider the type of working relationship you want to have with your attorney. Yes, most lawyers will do what’s necessary to handle your case, but the process will go much more smoothly if you select someone who is willing to develop a relationship with you based on how you’d like to interact with them. For instance, do you want a lawyer who will run the case and consult you as needed, or do you desire more involvement?
Tips For Selecting The Right Divorce Attorney
The selection of your attorney will likely be one of the most important factors in the outcome of your divorce. With such a massive pool of lawyers to choose from, making such an important decision can be extremely difficult — particularly since the needs of every case will be different. It will take a lot of research and time, but the choice of your legal representation should not be taken lightly.
Men seeking a divorce lawyer need to ensure their best interests will be kept at the forefront of the settlement negotiations, and finding an attorney that has plenty of familiarity dealing with similar situations is important. Here are a few things to look for when beginning your search for a divorce attorney.
Don’t simply pick the first lawyer you contact
It is vital that you do your homework and actually meet with several attorneys before you put down a large deposit to retain one. Trust is extremely important in the relationship you will develop with your attorney, and you need to meet them to get a feel for that initial first impression.
Talk to people you know who have been through divorce
It can be an awkward conversation to bring up, but talking to friends, family or coworkers who have been through divorce can give you a good place to start. Despite the ability of researching on the Internet, first-hand accounts are still a really good way to get quality information
Don’t assume that if you’re a man, only male attorneys can successfully represent you
The chance of your attorney’s gender impacting the outcome of your case is not very high. It is much more important to worry about finding a competent and dependable attorney that you feel comfortable being around. What should matter most is that you trust them to fight for your best interests, regardless of their gender
How To Choose A Divorce Attorney
A divorce is one of the most traumatic events in a person’s life, ranking right up there with the death of a loved one. A divorce is also one of the few times – and maybe the only time – a person has to deal with the court system.
Ending a disintegrating marriage is made more difficult by the complexity of the divorce process and the emotional stress of dealing with the issues of child custody and support and division of assets.
Understanding the legal process is as baffling as trying to understand complex medical procedures, and just as you need to trust your physician, you need to feel confident with your attorney during a divorce. Your divorce attorney must be a combination of therapist, confidant, clergy person and “legal eagle.” So, how do you find this person to whom you can entrust your future?
Get referrals from friends
If you have friends who have gone through a divorce, ask what they liked and disliked about their attorneys. Was your friend’s case as complex or less complex than your own? Was the attorney equally competent in handling emotional issues such as custody and “business” issues such as division of assets? Also, ask about the attorney who represented your friend’s spouse.
Meet with several attorneys
Schedule appointments with several attorneys for consultations, and let the attorney know you are in the interviewing process. Most attorneys won’t see you free of charge since they have only their time and advice to sell, but some offer discounts for the initial consultation.
Ask the right questions
When you meet with an attorney, bring a list of questions regarding your concerns in choosing an attorney as well as your personal concerns in the divorce case. Ask how the law firm bills its clients and ascertain the billing rates for each person who will be working on your case.