Divorce Law

What to Look For in a Divorce Attorney

Going through the divorce process can cause a tremendous amount of anxiety and heightened emotions. No matter how amicable the separation, you and your ex still need to deal with tough topics like child custody and property division. Many people find it helpful to go through the process with an experienced family law attorney. But how do you know what to look for in a good divorce lawyer?

Important Factors to Consider When Hiring A Lawyer

There are seemingly endless choices when you start looking for legal advice. Websites, phone book listings, and even billboards offer local divorce lawyers who may be available to handle your case. However, not all lawyers are equal, and you should make sure you find the right divorce law firm to handle your case. There are several factors to consider when looking for a divorce attorney, including:

Experience

You want an attorney with family law experience who regularly handles divorce proceedings similar to yours. Any attorney licensed in your state is qualified to represent you, but you may not want a lawyer who primarily practices criminal defense or personal injury. Each practice area is different, with different judges, court rules, and legal options available. An experienced attorney familiar with local divorce laws will be able to provide you with legal advice that is specific to your case.

Local Familiarity

It can be a big advantage if your attorney is familiar with the local court system and judges who might be hearing your divorce case. Family law judges have their own personalities and different approaches to cases. A competent divorce lawyer can take a calculated approach to take your case before a specific judge, which can go a long way toward protecting your assets in a divorce.

Efficiency

The ideal attorney or law office should have a track record of guiding their clients through divorce proceedings efficiently, maximizing results, and minimizing costs to you. Going through a divorce can be expensive. Make sure your prospective lawyer understands your expectations and acknowledges if you need to avoid unnecessary expenses.

Communication

You should look for a potential lawyer who promptly returns calls and keeps you informed every step of the way. Most people going through a divorce have never gone through one before, and it can be confusing at times. Family law issues may also take longer than you expect, with delays from the court, opposing counsel, or your own scheduling conflicts. Find out a lawyer's approach to communication before making any decisions.

Holistic Approach

A divorce law firm may be made up of a team, with a senior lawyer, associate attorneys, paralegals, legal assistants, and administrative staff. You may want to anticipate communicating with multiple members of the team, understanding who is in charge of your case, and who are your points of contact to get a clear response to your important questions.

Searching for Legal Representation

You do not have to hire the first lawyer you call unless you think they are the right one for you. You can consider an initial consultation like a two-way interview. The attorney you are meeting with can decide whether to take your case. You also need to make sure the lawyer is the right one for your case.

Divorce attorneys approach things differently, and you want to make sure you find the right advocate for your family. A friend or a relative's lawyer friend may not be the best choice for you. Divorces can be messy and awkward. Hiring an objective attorney with no personal ties to you or your future ex may be the best option.

Match Their Strengths to Your Needs

Choose your attorney by matching their strengths to your most pressing needs. Are there complicated financial issues to resolve? What about a contentious child custody issue? You will want a lawyer who focuses on the issues that are most important to you.

Are you predicting a contentious divorce that could get dragged out in court? Then it may help if you had a lawyer with a proven trial record in the courtroom handling divorce proceedings.

Maybe you and your soon-to-be-ex are working together toward an amicable and collaborative divorce. If so, then finding an attorney with experience taking a collaborative approach to divorce, to maintain a positive relationship with your child's other parent, would be ideal.

Consider Your Budget

A high-priced lawyer is not necessarily better for your case. Being able to afford the services provided by your divorce attorney is essential. There's no need to go broke in the process. Find a lawyer who charges what you can afford and is transparent about costs and fees. Being surprised when you receive your first invoice is not a positive experience for the client or the attorney.

In some cases, spending money on the right attorney may actually cost you less in the long run if they have the experience to be more effective and efficient in resolving your case. Your attorney of choice is especially important when there are complex custody issues, high-value assets, business assets, or multiple properties involved.

Making the Call

Whichever attorney you decide to hire is ultimately up to you. Research your options and know what you are looking for — as well as what you can afford — before you start. Preparing yourself before beginning your divorce attorney search may help you find the right one for you that much faster, and potentially make the process less stressful.