When you’re faced with divorce, you may not know what to do or where to turn because most of us have little legal experience. You will have to make some major decisions that will affect the rest of your life. The decisions you make during this critical time can mean the difference between a fresh start and years of financial difficulty and emotional stress.
Choosing a good divorce lawyer can be one of the most important decisions you make during this difficult time. Here are some tips on how to choose a good divorce lawyer:
Table of Contents
- 1. Understand What Your Divorce Lawyer Does
- 2. Know Your Goal
- 3. Keep It Businesslike
- 4. Research the Lawyer’s Background
- 5. Check the Lawyer’s Credentials
- 6. Ask About the Lawyer’s Experience
- 7. Choose Someone with Experience
- 8. Ask the Strategy for Your Case and How Long Will it Take to Resolve
- 9. Ask How to Contact the Lawyer and If an Emergency Comes Up
- 10. How Will Your Lawyer Charge You
- 11. Ask the Estimated Total Cost of Your Divorce
- 12. Ask How Can You Make the Cost Down
- 13. Ask Can You Negotiate Directly With Your Spouse
- 14. Ask What Are Common Issues in Divorces
- 15. Ask What is the Divorce Process
- 16. Ask Your Lawyer How A Judge Would Rule On Your Case
- 17. Meet with Multiple Lawyers
- 18. Make Sure You’re Comfortable with the Lawyer
- Final Thought
1. Understand What Your Divorce Lawyer Does
A divorce lawyer’s job is to get you the best possible outcome in your divorce case. This means that they will work to ensure that you receive a fair share of the marital assets, that you are able to keep your home, and that you have adequate child support and spousal support arrangements in place.
While it is important to have an attorney who is aggressive and will fight for your rights, it is also important to have an attorney who is willing to negotiate and work towards a settlement that is in your best interests.
You may want your lawyer to listen to your anger and frustration, but try to be clear that you’re hiring the lawyer for legal services, not therapy.
2. Know Your Goal
What do you want to achieve in your divorce? For some people, the goal is to simply end the marriage as quickly and cheaply as possible. For others, the goal may be to ensure that they receive a fair share of the assets or to keep the family home. It is important to be clear about your goals from the outset so that you can choose a lawyer who is best suited to help you achieve them.
3. Keep It Businesslike
You should maintain a businesslike relationship with your divorce lawyer. This means being organized and prepared for meetings, promptly returning phone calls, and being respectful of your lawyer’s time.
You should also be upfront about your budget and be realistic about what you can afford. Remember, your lawyer is working for you, but you are ultimately responsible for the payment of legal fees.
4. Research the Lawyer’s Background
When you are considering hiring a divorce lawyer, it is important to do your research and find out as much as you can about their background. You can start by looking up the lawyer’s name in an online search engine, such as Google or Bing. This will give you a list of websites where you can find information about the lawyer.
You should also check the website of the state bar association to see if the lawyer is licensed to practice law in your state. The state bar website will also have information about any complaints that have been filed against the lawyer.
Another good place to research a divorce lawyer’s background is through online reviews. Sites like Yelp and Google Reviews allow people to post their opinions about businesses, including lawyers. You can read what other people have said about their experiences with the lawyer to get an idea of what you can expect.
Finally, you can also ask the lawyer for references from other clients. A good lawyer should be able to provide you with a list of satisfied clients who would be willing to speak to you about their experience.
5. Check the Lawyer’s Credentials
In addition to researching the lawyer’s background, you should also check their credentials to make sure they are qualified to handle your case. The first thing you should do is check to see if the lawyer is a member of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML). This organization is made up of the top divorce lawyers in the country and requires its members to have significant experience in handling divorce cases.
You should also check to see if the lawyer has any awards or recognition from their peers. This can be a good indication of the lawyer’s skill and reputation. Finally, you can check the lawyer’s website to see if they have any testimonials from past clients. These are all good indicators that the lawyer is qualified to handle your case.
6. Ask About the Lawyer’s Experience
When you are meeting with potential divorce lawyers, be sure to ask about their experience in handling cases like yours. You want to hire a lawyer who has significant experience in dealing with the specific issues in your case. For example, if you have children, you will want to hire a lawyer who has experience in child custody cases.
You should also ask about the lawyer’s success rate in divorce cases. This information can give you an idea of what you can expect from the lawyer and whether or not they are likely to get you the outcome you want.
Finally, you should ask about the lawyer’s typical approach to cases like yours. This will give you an idea of what to expect in terms of the lawyer’s aggressiveness and the overall tone of the case.
7. Choose Someone with Experience
When you are considering a divorce, it is important to speak with an experienced divorce lawyer to discuss the specific facts of your case and to help you understand the likely cost.
If you have complex financial assets or if you expect a contentious custody battle, you will want to choose a lawyer with experience in those specific areas. Ask your friends or family members for recommendations or look for online reviews of divorce lawyers in your area.
The lawyer can also provide you with information about alternatives to divorce, such as mediation or Collaborative Law.
8. Ask the Strategy for Your Case and How Long Will it Take to Resolve
You should ask your lawyer about their strategy for your case and how long they think it will take to resolve. If your lawyer is not willing to give you a straight answer, that is a red flag. You should also be wary of any lawyer who guarantees results or who makes promises about the outcome of your case.
9. Ask How to Contact the Lawyer and If an Emergency Comes Up
You should also inquire about how you will be able to contact your lawyer and what the procedures are for handling an emergency. If you have questions or concerns outside of regular business hours, you should know that you can reach your lawyer.
10. How Will Your Lawyer Charge You
Be sure to ask your lawyer how they charge for their services. Most divorce lawyers charge by the hour, but some may charge a flat fee or a retainer. You should also inquire about how much you can expect to pay in legal fees.
A good divorce lawyer can be the difference between a successful outcome and a stressful, costly battle. Be sure to take the time to choose a lawyer with who you are comfortable and with who you feel confident will work hard to protect your interests.
11. Ask the Estimated Total Cost of Your Divorce
You should also ask your lawyer for an estimate of the total cost of the divorce, including legal fees, filing fees, and any other associated costs. This will help you to budget for the cost of the divorce and to be prepared for the financial impact it may have.
The intricacy of the case, the quantity of assets to be distributed, and whether there is a disagreement on custody or visitation all affect how much a divorce will cost. In some cases, couples are able to reach an agreement without ever having to go to court. However, if there are disputed issues, it may take longer and be more expensive.
12. Ask How Can You Make the Cost Down
You should also ask your lawyer how you can reduce the cost of the divorce. In some cases, couples are able to reach an agreement without ever having to go to court. However, if there are disputed issues, it may take longer and be more expensive.
You can ask your lawyer about ways to reduce the cost of the divorce, such as mediation or Collaborative Law. These alternatives to divorce can help you reach an agreement without going to court.
You can also ask your lawyer about ways to reduce the cost of the divorce, such as:
- Reducing the number of hours spent on the case
- Hiring a less experienced lawyer
- Negotiating a flat fee rather than an hourly rate
- Doing some of the work yourself, such as gathering documents or preparing for court hearings
No matter what your budget is, there may be ways to reduce the cost of your divorce. Be sure to discuss this with your lawyer before making any decisions.
13. Ask Can You Negotiate Directly With Your Spouse
Another important question to ask your lawyer is whether or not you can negotiate directly with your spouse. In many cases, it is possible to reach an agreement without going to court. However, if there are disputed issues, it may be necessary to have a lawyer represent you in negotiations.
You should also ask about the possibility of mediation or Collaborative Law. These are alternatives to divorce that can often be less expensive and less stressful. Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party helps you and your spouse to reach an agreement. Collaborative Law is a process in which each spouse has their own lawyer, but the lawyers work together to help you reach an agreement.
If you are considering a divorce, contact an experienced family law lawyer to discuss your case.
14. Ask What Are Common Issues in Divorces
Some of the most common issues in divorces include child custody, child support, spousal support, and division of property.
Child custody can be a contentious issue, especially if there are disagreements about who should have primary custody.
Child support is another area that can be difficult to agree on, as there are many factors to consider, such as the income of each parent and the needs of the child.
Spousal support can be an issue in a divorce if one spouse is requesting financial support from the other.
Division of property can also be a complex issue, especially if there are significant assets, such as a home or retirement account.
It is important to have an experienced divorce lawyer who can help you navigate these complex issues and reach an agreement that is in your best interests.
15. Ask What is the Divorce Process
The divorce process can be complex, so it is important to have an experienced lawyer by your side. The first step in the process is to file a petition for divorce with the court. Once the petition is filed, you and your spouse will receive a summons, which will notify you of the divorce proceedings.
After you have received the summons, you will have a certain amount of time to respond. If you do not respond, the court may grant the divorce by default.
Once the petition and response have been filed, the next step is to attend a case management conference. This is a meeting with the judge or a court-appointed mediator, during which you will discuss the issues in your divorce, such as child custody, child support, spousal support, and division of property. The goal of the case management conference is to narrow the issues and set a schedule for the rest of the divorce process.
The next step is discovery, during which each spouse will have the opportunity to request information from the other. This may include financial documents, such as tax returns and bank statements. After discovery, the next step is to prepare for trial. This includes exchanging witness lists and exhibits and preparing opening and closing arguments.
If you are unable to reach an agreement with your spouse, the final step is to go to trial. During the trial, each side will present their evidence and arguments to the judge. The judge will then make a decision on the disputed issues. Once the judge has issued a decision, it is final and cannot be appealed.
16. Ask Your Lawyer How A Judge Would Rule On Your Case
It is impossible to predict how a judge would rule on your case, as each case is unique and there are many factors to consider. However, an experienced divorce lawyer will be able to give you an idea of how a judge might rule on your case based on their experience with similar cases.
17. Meet with Multiple Lawyers
Once you have a few names of potential lawyers, set up consultations with each one. Most lawyers offer free initial consultations, so take advantage of this opportunity to interview multiple lawyers. Be sure to bring a list of questions and concerns to each meeting so that you can get a sense of how the lawyer would handle your specific case.
18. Make Sure You’re Comfortable with the Lawyer
It is important that you feel comfortable with your divorce lawyer. This is someone who you will be sharing intimate details about your life with, so you need to be able to trust them. Be sure to ask about the lawyer’s experience, their success rate in divorce cases, and how they typically handle cases like yours. Also, make sure you feel comfortable with the fees that the lawyer charges.
By following these tips, hope you can choose a lawyer who will work to get you the best possible outcome in your divorce case.