by Kristi Gleason
Going through a divorce is a difficult process for all parties involved, as ending a marriage can be emotionally and mentally draining. At first, you may be overwhelmed with all of the changes and decisions you will have to make. Whether you are in the beginning stages or just contemplating a divorce, finding the right divorce attorney should be your top priority. The right divorce lawyer can help to not only ease the general stress of dissolving a marriage, but can ultimately lead to a faster, less-expensive divorce. So, how do you choose the “right” attorney?
- Set divorce goals. There are many factors that can go into finding the right divorce attorney, and it is helpful to identify what you hope to achieve prior to choosing an attorney. Maybe you want a quick and straightforward divorce, or perhaps you already expect litigation to be a long road in your future. Regardless of your intention, it is important to start off with a divorce goal in mind. Knowing what you want in terms of the divorce itself, or at least having a vague notion of what you want can save you time and resources.
- Figure out what is important to you. After determining what you want out of divorce, you should pay attention to what you want out of a divorce attorney. You want to find a lawyer who is competent in family law, but you should also identify factors that will allow you to build a comfortable relationship with an attorney. Location, age, gender, race, cultural background, and cost may be among some of the variables you identify, but remember to keep objective factors, such as credentials and experience in mind as well.
- Ask around. With the ever-increasing rate of divorce, it is very likely that you have a friend or family member who has gone through the process. Talk with them about their experiences with the legal system, as well as which attorneys they hired and why. While referrals are an excellent source of information and insight, keep in mind that divorce is a highly personal process, and their experience may not be yours.
- Do your research. So maybe you have asked around and have collected several names of attorneys that your friends or family have hired. Now it is time to do your own research and collect as much information as you can. The internet is a perfect tool for this task as many attorneys have websites and basic information about themselves or their firm online. Remember to pay attention to your priorities, whether that involves cost, location, experience, culture, or gender, and narrow the list of potential counsel until you feel that you have the right attorney in the mix.
- Interview potential candidates. There are many different ways this can be done, depending on both the attorney and your comfort level. You will have to reach out to the attorney or family law firm, whether through an online form, email, or by telephone. Ask what their process is for potential clients. Many attorneys offer free consultations, whether in person or by phone, while others require a fee to set up a consultation. Ask the questions that will help you to determine if the lawyer can help you to reach your goal. Do not expect free advice during the interview phase, but do look for an attorney who is responsive and supportive. Pay close attention to compatibility. Do you feel like they are trustworthy? Are they trying to sell you on their idea, or are they honest and providing helpful information?
- Make a choice and pull your own weight. Once you have identified an attorney or firm that meets your criteria, trust that you have made the right choice and establish a working relationship with your attorney. Your time spent finding the right attorney will be instantly wasted if you do not openly communicate and keep them updated with important information or changes.
While choosing the right divorce lawyer can be hard work, having the right legal counsel as your advocate is definitely worth it in the long run. Following these steps as a guide will help you to find an attorney that has your best interest in mind and will help to make a daunting process more manageable.
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Lowenstein, Michele. "How To Choose A Divorce Attorney." WIFEorg. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Aug. 2014. <http://www.wife.org/lowenstein-001.htm>.
"Selecting a Divorce Lawyer." AAML National. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Aug. 2014. <http://www.aaml.org/library/publications/415/divorce-manual-client-handbook/5-selecting-divorce-lawyer>.