How To Find The Best Divorce Attorney
Finding an attorney, especially for a divorce, can be a daunting task. People usually want to find the best divorce attorney, but the term best divorce attorney is subjective. There a few things you should keep in mind, however, when looking for a divorce attorney. Perhaps, the most important factor is whether you feel comfortable with the attorney. It is important to evaluate the attorney and ask questions to gauge whether the attorney would be a good fit for your case. It is crucial that you make sure the attorney you choose is qualified to competently handle your case and represent your best interests. Additionally, it is recommended that you research several family law attorneys to find the best divorce attorney for you. You should also consider the following tips when deciding whether an attorney is the best divorce attorney for you.
1. Evaluate your Case with the Attorney
It is important to evaluate your case with the potential attorney. You can do this by providing details of your situation and what you believe the potential contested issues may be. Let the attorney know whether or not you have children, if you’re worried about alimony or spousal support, if you want to make sure your retirement account is protected, or other information that you think is important. If the attorney is experienced, he or she will provide informed feedback as to how the case will proceed and analyze your best and worst case scenarios. Keep in mind that the attorney will not be able to give you a complete analysis of your specific case without all of the financial disclosures and other more specific information. However, he or she should be able to discuss the case and provide informed feedback. You should also prepare questions for the attorney and write down the answers during the consultation. This will allow you to review the answers after you leave the attorney’s office and make a decision as to whether that attorney is the best one for you.
An experienced divorce or family law attorney should also be able to provide a rough idea of your best and worst days in court. However, be wary of any attorney who guarantees any sort of result. Lawyers are ethically barred from guaranteeing any result. Additionally, no matter how strong the case, you never know how a Judge may rule on a particular day. If an attorney guarantees results, be very wary of that attorney and seek a second opinion.
2. Discuss the Fee Structure
You should understand and discuss the fee structure with your attorney before retaining the law firm. Lawyers use several different types of fees, including retainers, flat fees, and non-refundable retainers. Typically, the type of fee structure utilized depends on the circumstances of the case. None of these fee structures are necessarily bad, however, you should understand and be comfortable with the fee structure prior to retaining the attorney. Be sure to ask the attorney how often they send out billing statements and to explain their billing procedures. Most attorneys send bills on a monthly basis. If an attorney sends out bills less frequently, it may be a red flag that the attorney will burn through the retainer quickly. It is also important to discuss with the lawyer any anticipated costs in your case. Costs can include filing fees, process server fees, court reporter fees, expert fees, and mediator fees. These are additional costs that you may be responsible for in addition to the attorney’s fees.
Additionally, discuss how much the attorney estimates the case will cost. Many clients fail to realize that the attorneys’ fees may exceed the retainer. The divorce attorney that is best for you will be experienced enough to provide a knowledgeable estimate of the attorneys’ fees. If the attorney cannot provide some feedback as to an estimate of the overall fees, then he or she most likely does not have the experience necessary to handle your case. However, the attorney can only provide an estimate and there are many factors, which may influence the overall cost of the divorce. Discuss with your attorney potential issues that he or she believes could increase the cost. Having an estimate of the overall cost of the divorce will help eliminate surprises down the road and allow you to plan your finances accordingly.
3. Evaluate the Attorneys’ Experience
There is no replacement for experience in the courtroom. Just because an attorney has been practicing for twenty or thirty years does not mean they have experience in the courtroom. Some attorneys rarely set foot in the courtroom. When selecting a divorce attorney, it is important to ensure that he or she has the experience and skills necessary to effectively litigate your case. You may not end up in court, but having an attorney experienced in the courtroom gives you leverage and the confidence that you will be in good hands should you need to argue your case to a judge. However, the attorney should also be familiar with alternative dispute resolution such as mediation. Discuss with your attorney the percentage of cases that they take to trial and the results of those cases. Additionally, discuss the percentage of cases that resolve at mediation or prior to trial. The best divorce attorney will fight for you and advocate your position when necessary, but also knows how to facilitate a settlement when appropriate. It is important that your attorney have the skill, ability, and reputation as a litigator in the courtroom as other attorneys know which attorneys settle their cases without fighting for their client. Finding an attorney who is a skilled litigator that utilizes mediation regularly will be the best divorce attorney to handle your case.
4. Look for Red Flags
Unfortunately, many divorce lawyers will tell you what you want to hear just to close the deal. This should always be a red flag. The best divorce attorney for you will be honest during the consultation and provide realistic advice. In a divorce, it is rare that one party gets everything he or she wants. Your divorce attorney should be forthright as to the expectations and share information that you may not necessarily like. Having an attorney that is honest, realistic and experienced will save you time, frustration, and money in the long run. Additionally, be wary of attorneys that utilize a hard sales pitch or push you to make a decision while in their office. The best divorce attorneys have an extensive client base and are not desperate for business. If the attorney comes across as a salesman rather than a counselor and advisor, it may be best to find a divorce attorney elsewhere.