Getting divorced is stressful. Read here for nine practical tips for hiring a local divorce lawyer that you can trust with your case.
About 689,300 American couples file for divorce each year. Without an experienced divorce attorney, you might not receive your fair share. The process of filing for divorce can feel even more time-consuming and emotionally draining without help.
Here are nine tips to help you find a local divorce lawyer you can depend on. Their experience and expertise will ensure you fight for a fair divorce.
Read on to start your search for a lawyer today.
1. Establish Goals
Before you build a list of lawyers to research and interview, take a moment to establish your goals. Consider what method will best suit your divorce situation and goals. For example, your situation might require:
- Mediation (for an amicable divorce)
- Cooperative/collaborative methods
To ensure a successful divorce based on your goals, choose an attorney who utilizes your preferred divorce method. During your search, research what divorce method each attorney or firm specializes in.
Your goals can determine your case’s complexity. It can also help you determine what experience you require from your divorce lawyer.
For example, maybe you and/or your spouse have a high net worth. Look for divorce lawyers with comprehensive financial experience. These attorneys will have an easier time planning and executing your case.
If you want to file for divorce quickly, however, the situation is likely less complex.
Establishing your goals ahead of time can help you find an attorney based on your distinct needs. If they don’t recommend a legal situation based on your goals, remove them from your list. Instead, find an attorney who can develop a plan with your needs and expectations in mind.
2. Gather Referrals
To streamline your search for a local divorce, turn to friends, family members, or neighbors who recently filed for divorce. Determine what law firm and lawyer they hired. Building a list of referrals can help you find local lawyers worthy of your trust.
It can also help you determine which law firms or lawyers to avoid.
Ask each client questions about their experience working with the attorney they recommend. For example:
- Was the lawyer experienced
- Did they have expertise relevant to your situation
- What’s their track record
- Did they accomplish your goals
- Did you experience problems with the attorney
- How much did their legal fees cost
- Would you hire them again
Asking the client if they encountered problems can help you determine if the firm prioritizes their clients. If the law firm didn’t try to find a solution, remove them from your list.
If you can’t build a list of options from referrals, visit your local bar association website. You can also visit The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers site. The American Bar Association’s Section of Family Law website also has a search portal, allowing you to search by state.
Check online for client reviews for each lawyer you’re considering.
3. Check Credentials
Confirm each lawyer on your list of options has an active license to practice in the state.
Determine if they have other certifications that can speak to their level of expertise.
For example, perhaps they have certifications from the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA). NITA attendees practice advanced skills, including family law. One course involves an eight-day certificate program in family law advocacy.
Some lawyers are Certified Divorce Lending Professionals (CDLPs) or Certified Matrimonial Law Attorneys.
Finding lawyers with additional certifications can help you feel more confident in their abilities to handle your divorce.
4. Determine Experience
Determine how long each attorney has practiced law, specialized in family law, and practiced locally. Determine how much experience they have with your type of divorce if there are special circumstances.
A skilled divorce attorney will help you make informed decisions regarding:
While filing for divorce is an emotional process, their experience can help you make objective decisions.
There are over 71,300 family law and divorce lawyers in the US, with new professionals entering the workforce each year. Finding an attorney with years of hands-on experience can ensure you accomplish your goals.
5. Consider Expertise
Look for a family lawyer who specializes in divorces and the issues relevant to your situation. For example, you might want an attorney who specializes in the division of complicated assets. Perhaps you’re more concerned about custody and alimony instead.
Look for lawyers who served on bar association family-law committees. Someone familiar with your situation can ensure they develop a stronger legal strategy.
6. Schedule a Consultation
As you begin narrowing down your options, schedule a consultation appointment with two or three local divorce attorneys. Prepare a list of questions to ask about their experience, expertise, and recent cases.
Meeting three local lawyers in person can help you find someone you’re comfortable around. Filing for divorce is painful and emotional. Finding someone you can trust, who treats you with consideration and patience, can help you find the right match for your divorce settlement.
7. Ensure Communication
Ask each attorney how you’ll communicate moving forward. Will you be able to reach them about your divorce? Determine if it’s better to call or email them.
The lawyer should fit you into their schedule. If they put your case on the back burner, they might not accomplish your goals. Make sure the attorney won’t hand your case off to a less experienced lawyer at the firm.
8. Ask About Their Approach
Before a lawyer takes your case, ask them about their approach.
Some recommend a collaborative style to minimize conflict (which could help you avoid going to court). Others prefer a more aggressive approach.
Find a lawyer who will handle your case based on your preference.
9. Discuss Costs
Ask each lawyer about their legal fees. Determine what fee structure they follow. Do they require you to pay a retainer or hourly rate?
Don’t choose the cheapest divorce attorney in the area. Instead, choose someone who suits your budget and can accomplish your goals.
Find a Local Divorce Lawyer You Can Depend On
Don’t rush to hire a local divorce lawyer. Filing for divorce is a stressful, emotional process. Finding an experienced lawyer you’re comfortable with can ease some of the stress off your shoulders.
Want to achieve a fair divorce without an ugly court battle? We can help.
Contact us today to get started.