What makes a good divorce lawyer? The answer to this question depends upon who you are and what your needs are. Here, we answer some of the most common questions about how to choose a divorce attorney.
Choosing a Divorce Lawyer – Step 1: Make a List of Your Needs
Begin the process of choosing a divorce lawyer by making a detailed list of your needs. What is it that you want the attorney to do for you? 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. Consider the following points as you determine what you need from your divorce lawyer:
- Do you want a lawyer who will run the case and consult you as needed, or do you desire more involvement?
- Which issue concerns you most: protecting your financial interests, or maintaining a close relationship with any children you may have?
- Do you foresee a major battle during your impending divorce, or do you believe that it will be amicable?
- Is the cost of hiring a divorce attorney a major consideration, or is money of little concern?
Research divorce lawyers in your area, and you’ll quickly find out what each one specializes in, focusing on those who are most likely to meet your needs. If you live in a metropolitan area, you’ll be able to find several potential candidates. Read client testimonials to find out what others have to say about the attorneys you are considering.
Choosing a Divorce Lawyer – Step 2: Narrow the Field
Once you’ve made a list of attorneys who you believe will meet your needs, it’s time to narrow the field of potential attorneys down to a few you can interview. If you live in the United States, you can use the American Bar Association website for help with this part of the process. This service sets up free initial consultations, allowing you to make a well-informed choice.
Choosing a Divorce Lawyer – Step 3: Questions for a Divorce Lawyer
Knowing what to ask a divorce lawyer during the initial meeting lets you make the most of the time you have available. Pay close attention to how he or she answers, remembering that it is vital that you have good dynamics.
- How many divorce cases have you handled?
- Do you have a heavy caseload?
- Are you familiar with local Family Court judges?
- Are you willing to work with a mediator?
- What percentage of cases have you settled out of court?
- Do you know my spouse or his / her attorney?
- Will you be handling my case personally, or will someone else associated with the firm be taking care of me?
- Will you ask my opinion as you plan strategy?
- Will I be kept informed of developments as they occur?
- Are you available to answer questions as they come up?
- What is your retainer fee?
- What is your hourly billing rate?
- Do the fees I pay include the services of any of your associates?
- Will there be additional fees if my case goes to court?
- Are there fees for letters and phone calls?
- Does your contract outline the fee arrangement?
- Are bills itemized?
- Will you petition the court to have my spouse pay your fees?
Using some of these sample questions can make the issue of how to choose a divorce lawyer simpler. Many attorneys have websites that strive to answer many common questions. Read them if they are available, as this may reduce the number of questions you have to ask in person.
Choosing a Divorce Lawyer – Step 4: Make your Choice
Once you have interviewed the attorneys on your short list, determine which one you want to hire and have that divorce lawyer draw up a fee contract. No money should be exchanged until both you and the attorney have signed it. Last but not least, be sure that you feel comfortable with the attorney and are confident in his or her abilities. Your divorce is much too important to entrust to a divorce attorney who fails to inspire your confidence.