To make the divorce process easier, you need to hire an experienced divorce attorney. Read this guide to learn how to choose the right one.
Going through a divorce is never an easy process, whether it’s financial or emotional.
Choosing the right divorce attorney can be the difference between a smooth separation and a rocky one.
Whether you’re looking for referrals or relying on recommendations from family and friends, it’s important to be armed with the right information before you hire an attorney. Here are some helpful tips to make your divorce process as painless as possible.
Create a Preliminary List
Choosing a divorce attorney is akin to watching an audition for a fine arts performance. It’s important to have all your candidates lined up with crosschecked information for reference before you hire someone.
You can contact your local bar association for a list of local divorce attorneys, and a check at the Better Business Bureau may also give you some insight. Many lawyers have online reviews, so make note of which ones have positive feedback and which ones don’t.
As you work through your list, narrow down the lawyers you feel will work best for your unique situation. Don’t be afraid to call their office and ask if you can make an appointment. Many will perform the first consultation free of charge, so you don’t have anything to lose.
Make sure you ask about consultation fees. Many of the best divorce lawyers do charge for consultation time. When meeting with those attorneys, be sure to bring ALL relevant paperwork or even it send it ahead. You can expect a divorce lawyer who has charged a consultation fee to be willing to do more work to advise you. Also, be certain to tell them if another attorney referred you to them. As a professional courtesy, many of the best divorce lawyers will waive consultation fees for clients coming from their colleagues.
It’s important that you find a lawyer you feel comfortable with, so using a list as your guide filled in with the criteria that matter to you is essential.
Be Prepared when Meeting a Divorce Attorney
Once you’ve scheduled a few meetings, you’ll need to have all of your documentation in order. This can include anything from the deed to your home to your children’s birth certificates and more.
If you expect this to be a contested divorce, make sure you have any information like incriminating text messages or photos that will help the judge rule in your favor when it comes to things like splitting assets. A copy of your home’s title will also be helpful.
Keep in mind that an attorney is only as good as the information he or she has, so being armed with a plethora of info will definitely help you out. There’s really no such thing as information overload. Remember that lawyers know exactly what to look for in divorce cases so the more you can give them, the better.
Feel Free to Ask Questions
Ultimately, you will be the one to pay the attorney’s fees, so it’s important that you are asking the right questions. A few things to ask your potential attorney can include:
- How long have they been in business, and has it always been in their current local area?
- Is family law something their office specializes in?
- What is their success rate in terms of happy clients?
- Are they willing to provide you with a list of some referrals you can call? (This may be difficult because many clients do not want to discuss their cases with strangers, but you should ask).
- Do they have a working relationship with the judges in the area?
- Have they ever successfully handled an appeal or jury trial? (This will give you an idea of hard hard they’ll be willing to fight, if needed).
You may also want to ask your attorney if they know your spouse or any of their family members personally. While this might seem awkward, it’s important to know this in advance so there is no conflict of interest. Be prepared to get asked similar questions if you don’t ask first.
Jot all of the answers to your questions down for each potential attorney to help you decide on the right one.
Don’t Forget Cost
Consider the total costs you will incur when hiring a divorce attorney. You definitely don’t want to utilize someone who’s overly expensive, especially if the proceedings should be fairly simple.
Some attorneys charge by the hour while others may offer a flat one-time fee. Be sure to get all of the fine print in writing, and don’t hesitate to ask for a line item of all your costs in advance.
It is important to note that you may be charged extra if the court case goes on longer than expected. Remember, just like you, your lawyer’s time and effort is extremely valuable so there will be the potential for extra money coming out of your pocket if things drag on.
The more work you can do for your lawyer, the more money you save when the lawyer bills hourly. For example, if your divorce lawyer has to call you repeatedly to obtain bank statements or other documents, you’ll probably get billed for those calls. Similarly, provided documents that have been organized will save the attorney time and you money.
Going through a divorce is a very personal and extremely emotional process. That’s why it’s essential that the lawyer you choose is easy to talk to and offers not only a listening ear but some good advice.
Make sure your lawyer is someone who can relate to you and who is understanding rather than judgmental. An experienced attorney has probably seen almost everything before when it comes to divorce, so don’t hesitate to be as honest and open as possible.
The better you can communicate with each other, the more confident you’ll be in a positive outcome.
Keep Location in Mind
As you’re going through the preparation of a divorce, you’ll most likely need to meet with your attorney on more than one occasion. Keep the location of their office in mind so it doesn’t cause you too much inconvenience.
If your lawyer needs to come to you instead, remember that they may charge additional travel time for their efforts. It’s usually best to meet them at their location, so consider an attorney with an office that is close to either your home or place of business.
Making the Commitment
Once you’ve done your interviews, had a few consultations, and narrowed down your list, it’s time to hire a divorce attorney.
Doing the proper homework ahead of time can save you money, effort, and maybe even some emotional distress. Your lawyer should be someone you trust who can handle even the most daunting tasks to ensure that your divorce goes smoothly.
For more information about all things legal, be sure to visit our blog.