In addition to being an emotional roller coaster for everyone involved, divorce can be an extremely complex area of family law. When choosing your divorce attorney, it is necessary that you choose one that you feel comfortable with and that you can trust. After all, you’re going to likely end up discussing some pretty intimate life details with this person.
One of the best ways to find a good divorce attorney is to ask for referrals from friends or family who have been through the same situations or even referrals from attorneys you may already know. It is vital that you ask lots of questions so that you can get an idea as to the type of attorney you’ll feel most comfortable with. If you’re asking for a referral from another attorney, you should be completely honest about your situation- if your spouse will be contesting anything, they need to know this so that they can guide you better. Get in touch with your local bar association to see if they can give you a referral.
Sit down and honestly think about what exactly you need in an attorney. Do you want to work with a man or woman? Do you want them to be young or old? Do you want someone who will settle out of court or who will go into the courtroom and fight for you? Do you want to pay a flat fee or by the hour? These and other factors are important for choosing the right attorney for your situation.
In some cases, attorneys will offer free consultations. It might help to meet with several different attorneys that do offer free consults so that you can get an idea of how different attorneys work and how they plan on approaching your case. However, keep in mind that just because they offer free consults, it doesn’t mean that their future charges will be inexpensive.
When meeting with an attorney, you should be ready with the following questions:
- What will you charge?
- What can I expect to pay for copying, faxing, and postage?
- What outcome do you expect?
- How often will we talk about the case?
- Where are you licensed to practice?
- When can I expect a call back when I call you and leave a message?
- If you’re not here, is there someone else I will be dealing with in case of emergency or questions?
Take some time to glance around the office. If there is a receptionist, does he/she seem like someone you want to deal with? Does he/she seem helpful and is the office professional?
Ask the attorney how many divorce cases he/she has represented and what the outcomes have been. You must be comfortable with giving your case to them, especially if there are children or large amounts of assets and you and your spouse can’t agree on distribution. You also want to get a feel for how well this attorney knows the judges in the jurisdiction where the case will be filed.
Finally, you want to ask for references- especially if you weren’t sent by someone you know and trust. You can ask for names and contact info for past clients that you can call for a reference. However, the attorney can only give you this if the client has agreed. In some cases, the attorney may be offended, but you do have a right to check up on them. You can also call the Supreme Court office in your state or look at their website for more information.