How to Select a Divorce Attorney for You
When you are going through a divorce, you want to select an attorney you feel will effectively achieve your goals and address your concerns. It is important that you feel comfortable with your divorce attorney because you do not want to have issues communicating with the attorney you have hired to help you through an often difficult and trying time. An experienced attorney will explain your legal situation in plain English and work with you toward achieving a successful conclusion of your divorce.
When selecting any attorney, it is important that you have confidence that your attorney will properly advise you through the process, fight for your rights when necessary, and is experienced in handling your type of divorce. When selecting an attorney, ask about the attorney’s credentials. Find out what law school the attorney attended, how many years the attorney has been in practice, and whether the attorney has received any awards or recognition from other attorneys or organizations in the community. These are all indicia of competence, which suggest that the attorney is a trusted representative in the legal community.
Finding a Good Divorce Attorney: Many people talk to family and friends about divorce experiences and may ask for recommendations for good divorce attorneys. A person who has had a positive experience with a divorce attorney is a good referral source. You should make sure, however, that the attorney recommended by family or friends has experience in handling the types of matters that might arise in your divorce. For example, you may have a family-owned business that will need to be valued and distributed during your divorce. If the family member or friend did not face this issue, then you would need to be sure that the attorney that is being recommended has handled matters involving family owned businesses.
If possible, do independent online research. For example, find out whether the attorney has been successful in the appeals handled in family law matters. A successful appellate attorney has convinced a panel of judges as to the correctness of a legal position. This may indicate that the attorney has good writing and oral argument skills and will be able to effectively communicate your arguments in court.
Also, review the attorney’s website. Does it look professional? Does it present the kind of image you want for the attorney who will represent you? Professionalism is important in the law. You want your attorney to appear professional both online and in person. Furthermore, attorneys often will post helpful articles or information on their websites. You can read what your attorney has written to see if you like what he/she has to say and perhaps to get additional information to help you decide whether to hire that attorney.
Experience: You have heard the phrase “experience matters”. Well, it really does. Many cases are won or lost because of the experience (or lack of experience) of the attorney. Experienced attorneys know to be prepared for the unexpected, are comfortable both in negotiations and in court and have knowledge of a wide range of legal issues. They, therefore, are often better able to think on their feet and to respond to unexpected inquiries from the court or opposing counsel.
Experienced attorneys also are often better able to think strategically. This means they can anticipate and plan for a situation, putting you in a better position to achieve a positive outcome in your case. More seasoned attorneys also know which cases should be settled and which should be tried in a court of law. They can anticipate the outcome of a case because they have dealt with many others like it. Knowing the likely outcome of your case, they are better able to advise you how to proceed.
Cost: Divorce can be expensive. Uncontested divorces are where both parties agree on everything and there is no need for negotiations, mediation or trial. Uncontested divorces range from $1,500 to about $2,500. Contested divorces begin at about $3500 and can cost tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the issues involved. Issues involving children and family owned businesses are often the most expensive. Appeals can be even more costly.
Many factors arise that can cause the cost of a divorce to change. The cost can increase if the parties start to argue over additional matters or if additional legal issues arise. It can decrease if the parties decide to amicably resolve their disputes.
After discussing your case with an attorney, ask for an estimate of what the proceedings will cost. Bring to the attention of the attorney any difficulties you might foresee to insure that you receive an accurate estimate and so the attorney is prepared to deal with these events.