Divorce is one of the most emotional and financially challenging situations a person will ever experience. And why divorce happens for many different reasons, most people do not understand the legal process involved. Everyone has heard divorce horror stories in the past. Divorce can be a painful and expensive process, especially without having the right lawyer to represent your best interest.
Meeting the right Divorce Lawyer is the key to this transition in life. However, if you do not know what to look for, how can you be sure you are getting the best representation? We came up with a seven step, guide to finding the lawyer to help you through this challenging process.
First, you need to be aware that divorce is a legal process with a few main agenda’s:
Dissolving the Marriage
Allocation of Asset’s
Custody Issues when Applicable
Divorce is usually never an amicable split between husband and wife. It is often fueled with anger, rage, frustration, and sadness. However, you need to remember that Lawyers are not therapists. Their first and foremost job is to represent your best interest within the confines of the law.
Remember, Divorce is something your lawyer deals with for a living. They most likely have represented hundreds or even thousands of cases, each with its own unique situation. For you, it may feel like the world is collapsing around you, however your counsel knows its all part of the legal process. They are sympathetic to your emotional state, but their main job is to get you the best possible outcome.
Remember, your ultimate goal is to dissolve your marriage. The hope is to accomplish this as quick and painless as possible so both parties can move on with their lives. This is also very important when children are involved.
The hardest part of divorce is tempering the emotions during negotiations of material things. The longer you haggle over material things with no great value, the process becomes longer and more contentious. The longer the process, it cost you more money. Ask yourself, is it worth the added legal fees? Probably not!
Depending on your circumstance, you can always explore other alternatives other than a normal divorce litigation. So, do your research before you rush to hire a lawyer.
For example, if you don’t have children and have little to no assets, a mediator can be hired to help quickly negotiate the terms of your divorce. Mediation is the fastest and cheapest way to get divorced and usually hassle free. You may not even need to hire an attorney.
There is also the option of a collaborative divorce. The collaborative divorce focuses on a negotiated system in which co-parenting relationship is preserved. The last resort should always be a litigated trial.
While the emotional distress of divorce can compromise your decision making, you never want to act hastily and hire the first person you interview. Always keep at least 3 Divorce Lawyers at your disposal and retain the one you think represents your best interest.
When making that decision, ask yourself these general questions:
Is the lawyer well versed in Family Law, specifically in the type of divorce option for you?
Does the Lawyer help you understand the process?
Does the Lawyer have good communication and negotiation skills?
Do they possess problem solving skills?
Are they experience in your specific court system?
Regardless if you are headed for trial or not, your attorney needs to be highly experienced with the Family Law judges in your jurisdiction. Knowledge of the Judge is also essential in putting together your best legal strategy.
Most attorneys offer free consultations, so let the process being with the initial phone call. Be sure to ask the specialization and experience in family law, the type of client they typically represent in court, and most importantly, their rates. Most Divorce Lawyers charge hourlyand require a retainer. Some lawyers will negotiate fees based on the anticipated settlement, but don’t waste time meeting them if they are out of your range.
During your consultation, you want to gather as much legal advice as possible. The lawyer you meet with may not handle every day to day issue related to your case, so ask to meet any associates and/or paralegals what do. Your divorce process can also include financial experts, parenting coordinators, and forensic appraises just to name a few.
Find out if the lawyer you are interviewing has access to these resources and if they would be relevant to your case. This most likely effects your overall cost, even if you hope to avoid a trial. It is also a good idea to look at the Lawyers trial record for his/her history of success in court.
Keep in mind, many lawyers are skilled with the ability to tell you what you want to hear. For you, this is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life, for the lawyer, it’s strictly business. Here are some other red flags you may want to look out for:
There are no guarantees in the process, any promises are usually false.
If a Lawyer is disrespectful to other attorneys, it’s a sign they will be to you too.
If your attorney is distracted with phone calls, text messages and emails during your interview, most likely they will be during your case. You want their undivided attention throughout the process.
Make sure the Lawyer you choose acts professionally, has proper etiquette of the law, and treats you respectfully with the attention you deserve.
If the attorney you choose checks off all the boxes you are looking for to represent you, that is the person you should trust and feel comfortable with. Just remember, nothing is ever guaranteed. Divorce is a highly personal and emotional process, in which the outcome can have a significant impact on everyone’s lives, including any children. Taking these 7 steps into account can help you find the attorney to help you through this process and ease your transition into the next phase of your life.