The right lawyer can make a difference. This article explains how to select the best divorce lawyer for your unique situation.
Finding a good divorce lawyer can make a painful process more tolerable. While the divorce rate has decreased since 2011, this positive news doesn’t negate the challenges for those who do go through the divorce process. Finding the right advocate during this difficult time can make a big difference.
Read on to learn seven tips for selecting the best divorce lawyer.
1. Research the Divorce Lawyer’s Role
What is a divorce lawyer, and what do they do? Before you reach out to potential lawyers, do some research into the divorce process and the lawyer’s role.
Spend time researching divorce lawyers in your geographic area. Learn about their reputation and awards. And see what types of cases they cover to be sure you have a good match.
Be clear that a divorce attorney is there to handle legal matters – and not your emotional fallout. Your attorney can help you make the best case for gaining custody of children or access to assets. But you’ll need to look to a therapist or another specialist for the emotional challenges that accompany the experience.
2. Understand Your Goals
As the one going through a divorce, determine what you’re hoping to get from the process. The more honest you are, the better a potential lawyer can be about realistic expectations for a divorce settlement.
Learn about different types of divorce processes. For instance, these include family mediation and collaborative divorce proceedings. But processes also include contested divorces, which can be much more hostile situations.
If you’re hoping to steer clear of a difficult and tiring experience, you’ll need a lawyer who values that approach. Check the types of processes that lawyers consider to be their specialties.
3. Look For an Experienced Lawyer
An inexperienced lawyer may quote you a better price. However, a more experienced lawyer will have the negotiation skills and legal expertise to arrive at a better outcome. When assets and custody arrangements are on the line, you want the best legal mind representing you.
Does the lawyer you’re considering specialize in family law? Be certain that you’re hiring an attorney with the right specialization and board certification. A firm that covers personal injuries or education law, for instance, would not be a match for your needs.
Your lawyer should be able to point to recent settlements and cases, too. A good lawyer will have been practicing in the area for several years. They should have a track record of achievements.
You want a lawyer who knows other attorneys and judges in the area – and how to work with them. Don’t go with a lawyer who is new to the area or fresh out of law school.
4. Know Your Budget
It’s always smart to ask about costs before committing to a lawyer. Otherwise, you could end up with a hefty bill that gouges your budget.
Some lawyers will charge an hourly rate. In other cases, lawyers will charge a flat fee for a divorce. You may want to ask a potential lawyer if they can give you an estimate of how long a case will take based on previous cases.
You may need to pay more if your case looks like it will take a lot of effort to resolve. You may pay extra for expert witnesses or other hidden costs, as well.
Ask about repayment plans so you are clear on how and when you’ll need to submit payments. If you have strict budgetary constraints, state them upfront. You might find that some lawyers are willing to work with you to determine an affordable rate.
5. Evaluate the Communication Style
Choose a lawyer with clear, prompt, and compassionate communication. Divorce can be an emotional experience, and it can seem tiring when you don’t have a legal background. You want to be sure your lawyer lays out your options so they’re easy to understand.
Avoid lawyers who won’t take the time to demystify legal jargon. Likewise, avoid lawyers who are unavailable. You don’t want to be speaking with assistants all the time.
In addition, consider how a potential lawyer communicates. You may prefer phone calls and in-person meetings, but they might prefer emails. It’s important to find a lawyer whose style matches your preferences.
6. Check Recommendations and Referrals
Wondering how to select a lawyer? Turn to the people whose opinions you value the most. Ask family and friends for recommendations.
Inevitably, you know someone who has endured a divorce. They might have strong opinions on your best choices for legal assistance in the region.
Otherwise, plan on looking online to find objective reviews. While you can look at a firm’s website for testimonials, keep in mind that these are hand-picked to make the lawyers look good. You should search for attorneys through search engines to find other reviews, too.
You also can ask lawyers for referrals. A reputable lawyer should be more than happy to give you the contact information for clients. If they want your business, they’ll go the extra mile to earn it.
7. Prepare Interview Questions
Finally, schedule a consult with a prospective lawyer and bring a list of questions. A face-to-face interaction is your best opportunity to see if the lawyer is a good fit. It’s also an opportunity to assess their communication style and experience.
Ask about a lawyer’s personal interests and experience in family law. Ask about the resources they have available at their firm to help your case. Resources could include fellow lawyers and connections with experts who can offer credible input.
It’s also fair to ask about the anticipated timeline for your case. A confident lawyer should be able to give you an estimate and explain each step of the process. If a lawyer seems uncertain, you should take your business elsewhere.
Find the Best Divorce Lawyer
The best divorce lawyer is one with the experience you need to navigate through a sensitive process. Choose a lawyer who can communicate clearly and work on your behalf to find an equitable resolution. And make sure you communicate your budgetary requirements upfront to avoid any additional stress.
Contact FairWell Family Mediation to find a better path through divorce.