Divorce is a very stressful process. That is why it is important to carefully pick the best ally to support you during this difficult life transition. Here are some points to consider when choosing the right divorce lawyer.
Is the divorce attorney someone who is experienced and who specializes in family law cases?
An attorney that focuses on one area of the law is often most up to date with any changes in the law or procedures in the court. Also, an attorney that practices mostly in family law court knows the other players – lawyers, judges, clerks. This can help to resolve your case in some ways because of the benefit of pre-established relationships that can move your case toward a fair resolution.
You also want to know how many years the divorce attorney has been practicing family law. Just because an attorney has been a lawyer for a long time does not mean they have been practicing family law the whole time. Again, experience matters. You want an attorney that is not learning on the job.
Who will be handling my case?
While a big law firm may be impressive, a lot of tasks are delegated. A lot of work on your case may be handled by a paralegal or a younger less experienced staff attorney. While this may save you in costs, sometimes things get lost in translation between attorneys and their staff. Also, if you want an experienced attorney to handle your case then you don’t want your case assigned to an underling.
What will the cost be?
Most attorneys may let you know their hourly rate upfront. However, most attorneys will need to meet with a potential client for a consultation, often for a fee, to discuss their case before they can quote a retainer fee or what fees they will charge to take on their case.
Most attorneys ask for a lump sum payment up front as a retainer to insure their representation of you. Not only will you need to know what the upfront retainer will be but you want to know what charges will be billed against that retainer and at what rate. An attorney is required to give you a written fee agreement with all the terms and conditions of hourly rates and billing and retainers included that both of you will sign before the divorce attorney begins to represent you.
What type and level of communication can you expect from your attorney?
Some attorneys only give you their office number and that of their assistant. They may promise to get back directly within 24 hours or asap through their assistant. Some attorneys give out their cellphone numbers and allow their clients to text them even on nights and weekends. Usually, the access a client may have to their attorney depends on how busy their attorney is. A busy attorney does not always mean they are a good attorney or the right divorce attorney for you.
Divorce is a very personal process. You want to choose someone whose personality suits you and your needs.
So consider all of your needs when choosing your attorney. Not only look at their experience and their fees.
Consider what approach you want your attorney to take in your divorce case. Do you want someone who can help you settle things peacefully or litigate in court?
Some people want a shark who will go after the other person and their attorney. They may want someone to hurt their spouse who has wronged them. While most spouses only have fleeting thoughts like this when choosing an attorney, some do choose an attorney based upon this concept. If you do choose such an attorney with this kind of reputation, you need to realize that such kind of litigation is VERY expensive. Also, this kind of scorched earth mentality takes everything down in its wake. So, in addition to depleting the marital estate, if you have children this tactic can be very emotionally damaging for them. Also, realize that most family lawyers no matter how aggressive they can be in court will try to keep their clients with one foot in reality since the courts don’t generally punish the other spouse as a result of misconduct in the marriage.
In actuality, most people going through a divorce have the goal of reaching a fair settlement that will suit their family from their perspective and that is the goal of most family lawyers for their client as well.
Also consider what you need emotionally, psychologically, and mentally from your divorce attorney as well.
How much individual time do you want from an attorney? Do you want someone who has a lot of assistants to help with your case or do you want someone who is chief, cook, and bottle washer?
Do you need a hand holder? Many attorneys want to just stick to the facts. Do you want an attorney who will spend a lot of with you on the phone supporting you emotionally as well as legally?
What kind of communication style suits you? Do you want someone who is the very bottom line? Do you want an attorney who gives you a broad overview? Do you need an attorney who gives you lots of details or breaks things down for you?
How much control and input do you want in your case? Do you want an attorney who will explain everything to you or one you can just hand over your keys to and let them drive the bus?
Knowing what you need and what to expect will help you have a more positive experience during your divorce process. Choose wisely.
Divorce Done Differently is a committed to helping people find a peaceful way to resolve the conflict by exploring creative solutions to meet your needs and looking at the legal, financial, and emotional things that impact you and your family.
Together we can chart a course that will lead you toward a brighter future apart from conflict. Call me.
If you are interested in a consultation to discuss the options available to resolve your divorce, custody issues, support, or equitable distribution issues, please contact me and I can help you investigate your options. Call me, Lenore M.J. Myers, at 215-470-3121 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.