When facing divorce, no one wants a drawn out emotional or financial nightmare. Along with this, the most expensive piece of a divorce is often when clients waste money by going through multiple lawyers to find the right one. Here is what to look for to help when hiring a divorce attorney!
1. Find, research and interview potential attorneys. The first step is typically a free consultation, which starts with an initial phone call to the divorce attorney’s office. Set a time to discuss the divorce, as well as the attorney’s experience and specialization in family law. Once the consultation is set, be sure to ask about the type of client they generally represent. Most divorce lawyers charge by the hour and charge an initial retainer in advance. Always ask about the attorney’s rates. If there are certain settlements in the divorce, tell the prospective attorney, as this may affect those rates. Use the chance of a free consultation to find out the attorney’s access to all resources that may be involved in your divorce. These resources are important because they may raise the costs of your divorce. Such additional costs may include fees for financial experts, parenting coordinators, coach facilitators and forensic appraisers. Always ask about your attorney’s trial record and history of success in court, as it is an indicator of their negotiating capabilities.
2. Identify at least three potential attorneys. If you don't already know, not all attorneys are the same! Find at least three that you can interview before making a decision. Clearly, in regards to divorce, you need a lawyer that specializes in family law, and that is experienced in accomplishing what is in your best interests when going through a divorce. There are several green flags to identify in making a selection. Look for an attorney that helps you understand the divorce process, solves problems creatively, is experienced in your court system, and has a good track record of success. Whether or not your divorce goes to trial, be sure to find an attorney that is experienced not only in family law, but also with the judges in your jurisdiction, to ensure optimal advisement of the best legal strategy. A few ways to find the right attorney include asking friends for recommendations, investigating online client reviews for prospective attorneys, and setting up free consultations to get to know them personally.
3. Be realistic throughout your divorce and with your divorce attorney. When meeting with your attorney, always keep in mind that the key purposes for the divorce process are dissolving one’s assets and resolving custody issues. Your divorce attorney's job is to represent you to the best of their ability in accomplishing those two things. They are not, and don’t want to be, your therapist or coach in listening to your anger, sadness, frustration and pain. More importantly, remember that your divorce attorney is generally always on an hourly rate, so don't spend your money outside of the scope of legal processes. Be realistic with your attorney and what you expect from them, and be realistic about their role throughout the entire divorce.
4. Know your objectives and your options. Before you make a selection on who to retain, always consider a few alternatives to traditional litigation. If your divorce doesn't entangle children, finances, and assets, you can always hire a mediator to help negotiate terms of your divorce. Mediation is the cheapest and fastest way to reach a divorce settlement. However, if your divorce is going to be more complicated, it is worthwhile to have a divorce lawyer negotiate with your spouse's attorney. This is especially true when children are involved, and there is a need to reach a collaborative resolution that preserves the co-parenting relationship. If neither side will compromise, then a contested hearing may be necessary. Schedule a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney to determine the best strategy for you.
5. Stay focused on the goal of your divorce. Focus on the big picture throughout the divorce. Resist an overly litigious stance on matters simply to “get payback” from the other spouse. Too often, this approach leads to little gained, while at great emotional and financial cost to both you and/or your children. Do not focus on the little things, as the only people that will benefit from such focus will be the attorneys involved. Ask yourself what kind of divorce will be quickest and least financially damaging. During a free consultation, don't be afraid to ask your potential attorney candidates which approach is best for you and your unique situation.
6. How to look for red flags and making a decision. Always remember to look for red flags. First, attorneys will too often readily agree with your positions in order to quickly close the deal. Second, although your attorney is the expert, you should feel comfortable with them and that they respect your input and concerns. As a sighn of their professionalism, they should also be respectful of other attorneys. They should also appear fully engaged during your meetings — if the attorney is constantly distracted by emails, phone calls, etc., you are not receiving the attention and respect you are paying for.
Remember, there are no guarantees when it comes to your divorce attorney or the outcome you will achieve. Now that you know some important considerations in optimizing both, however,schedule some free consultations and find the attorney that is right for you.
We wish you the best, Stotts Law, PLLC