1. First of all you want an attorney who actually gets back to you when you call. A professional who returns calls also follows through in other areas.
2. Right behind the professional attitude and activities is the sense you get that you really matter. A compassionate attorney is not going to be your counselor, but he or she will have a sensitivity to your pain and your feeling of being lost. Losing a partner, whether you chose it or not, is a devastating experience and having an empathetic lawyer can make all the difference in your sense of well being during this process. If you can say to yourself, this attorney has my best interests in mind, you are on the right track.
3. Experience matters with attorneys. Someone who has a working knowledge of family law and who had handled dozens of cases is better for you than another type of attorney who is doing this as a favor. Family law attorneys keep up with the latest rules of court and know what to expect. So not only should your attorney be experienced in family law, you may want your attorney to be one who stands out in his/her field.
4. If you have things to divide, make sure your attorney is knowledgeable on property division. Since property division has nothing to do with your support as a spouse, you will want your attorney to explain the difference. The attorney will how much to ask for and what you are entitled to under law.
5. With children at issue, you certainly want a lawyer who is familiar with the rules about children and custody. Sometimes custody is tied to support, and other times it is not. You will want to have an attorney who knows formulas for determining the custody and support.
6. Follow through on your case is also important. In my experience with families going through divorce, I have noticed that some attorneys get so busy, they may put a client file on the back burner and not work on it. Simple divorces shouldn’t take more than 6 to 9 months. Keep calling if your attorney isn’t getting the case moving.
7. Details matter: you want your attorney and their staff to pay attention to all the details of your case and make sure everything is filed correctly. These ideas may seem like all this should already be part of the divorce proceedings, but you are counting on your attorney’s help, so one who is a stickler for the details is good to find.
8. Someone who listens to your wishes. If you want your timeshare agreement to be worked out between you and your ex, but the attorney suggests something else, then they are not listening to what you want. Be sure when you are having your first interview that you are being heard. Do they look at you when you are talking or seem to be distracted? An attorney in family law should know that your story is important, and that it needs to be told, and at least in the beginning, your attorney should listen to what you need.
9. Does this attorney respect you as a woman? Do you feel at times belittled or talked down to? This is a good time to exit stage left if that ever starts happening. Having the respect of your lawyer as the one who is paying the bill is a very important factor.
10. If you are asking around, make sure you have found an attorney who is familiar with the court you are attending. An out of county attorney may not be accustomed to the judges on the bench in your county. Some are known to favor the mother in custody disputes and others are for fathers. Your attorney should be familiar enough to know the judges in the courthouse of your county. Which means it is best to find an attorney who’s office in nearby.
When you have successfully checked all your boxes of what you want in an attorney, you have probably come as close as it gets to a service professional who will meet your needs. It is time to sit back and let them do the work.
What are you looking for in an attorney?
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