Choosing a divorce attorney is an important decision that you don’t want to rush and you don’t want to base on someone else’s experience. The first order of business is probably a self-assessment, and that means thinking about your priorities. For example, many women are more concerned about the property settlement than child custody. Similarly, some women want to aggressively go after their soon-to-be ex-husbands, while others want to preserve some civility. How you answer these questions has a lot to do with how you approach your attorney search.
Use The 5 Tips Below To Find The Divorce Attorney Right For You
1. Background Check
Take advantage of the fact that official records are just a few clicks away. Before your first appointment, pull up the attorney’s record on the state bar’s website. That will give you some vital statistics, including the attorney’s date of licensure and any disciplinary history. Bear in mind that, in most jurisdictions, it is not easy to file formal complaints against lawyers, so if there is any such history, the situation was probably fairly grim.
2. Carefully Review the Attorney’s Website
It’s usually very easy to tell whether family law is basically a sideshow for that lawyer, or if it is his or her bread and butter. You want a family law attorney who handles lots of those cases in your jurisdiction, because when it comes to professional services, it’s hard to beat specific experience in that area. If your foot hurts, you go see a podiatrist and not an ear, nose & throat specialist.
While there is no need to read every word, scan the site and look for authoritative content as opposed to marketing fluff because you want an attorney who knows the law and knows how to make it work for people like you. Family law attorneys need a good grasp of both the procedural aspects of a divorce case and the substantive legal aspects of child custody and property division.
Online reviews may be useful as well, but most people only post such reviews if they were deliriously happy with the service and outcome or bitterly upset about the treatment they received or the end result they obtained.
3. Bring Your Checkbook
The old saying that “you get what you pay for” may not be universally true, but it is generally accurate. If the attorney charges a rather low fee, that usually means one of three things: the attorney operates a high-volume “divorce mill” firm that handles family law cases like Big Macs, the attorney has few clients and needs the work or the attorney is inexperienced in family law and needs a few guinea pig cases. Although there are exceptions, attorneys who charge a lot of money are usually the best at what they do.
4. Ask Questions
During the initial consultation, don’t act like a sheep being lead to the slaughter. Try bringing up hypothetical situations, by asking things like “What would you do if my husband tried to hide the children?” or “How would you find out about my husband’s income?” Also, ask questions about the attorney’s experience, and be very careful if the lawyer seems at all defensive about his or her background.
5. Give Your Attorney a Short Leash
There is never, ever an excuse for ignoring emails, not returning phone calls, not showing up at meetings, and so on. If the attorney cannot keep the appointment or is too busy to respond to your question, it only takes two or three seconds to tell you that. Hiding from the client is a very, very bad sign, and it’s best to have zero tolerance for things like this unless the lawyer has a very compelling reason for the lapse.
If there are any red flags, either before or after you hire the attorney, do not make hasty decisions, but do not hesitate to cut ties before things get worse.