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How Do You Choose the Right Divorce Attorney?

When you and your spouse have decided to get a divorce, it is important to choose the right divorce attorney for you and your unique situation. Choosing the right divorce attorney can often be the difference between a reasonably priced, fairly quick divorce and a long, expensive, emotional legal battle. 

Below are some some tips on how to find the one that is the right fit for you.

Understand your goals and how you want to reach them.

Obviously getting divorced is the final goal, but before you choose how to move forward, decide what the important issues are for you. For example, do you want to keep your home? Are you worried about paying alimony? Are the children’s issues going to be difficult?

If you believe you and your spouse will be able to work out most of the issues on your own, then you may only need an attorney to help you complete your agreement to make sure you have crossed all of your t’s and dotted your i’s. However, if you need a little more help, you may want to go to mediation before litigation (pre-suit), either with or without attorneys. Mediation is the fastest and most inexpensive way to resolve your divorce.

If you know that your divorce is going to be high conflict due to serious issues like substance abuse, domestic violence or mental health issues, you should hire a divorce attorney who knows his or her way around a courtroom and who also understands the complexities involved in these types of cases.

Look for attorneys who live and practice in your area.

It is important that you find a divorce attorney who is familiar with and has handled numerous cases in the jurisdiction where your divorce will be filed.

Knowing the family court judges and other family law attorneys is a necessity. It is important that your attorney be able to advise you on the potential outcomes in your case, and the best way to know that is to practice in your area in front of those judges. Attorneys who are deeply involved in the local family law community will also be familiar with all of the resources you may need, such as therapists, parenting coordinators, forensic accountants, and guardian ad litems. Attorneys who practice every day in your area in family law will also know the unspoken rules and nuances of your jurisdiction or your particular judge that only come with experience.

Ask people you trust for recommendations.

Word of mouth and a personal referral is the best way to find a good fit for any job, whether for a home remodel, a babysitter, or a divorce attorney. Don’t just Google “divorce attorney in ___ [your city]”. The attorneys who come up first in search engines often pay for those ads and aren’t the most experienced ones in their area.

While social media and advertising can be helpful, it is usually best to ask your friends, therapist, or estate planning attorney for their recommendation. If you have a friend or colleague who went through a divorce that seemed similar to how you would like yours to go, ask them who their attorney was. Other attorneys in your community will have a good idea about who the prominent attorneys are in the area.

You should feel comfortable with the attorney and their staff.

It is vital that you feel heard and respected by your attorney and their staff. From your initial contact with the secretary to the last day of trial, you should feel like your case is important. While this is a business for them, you and your attorney must be on the same page. Make sure they answer your questions and don’t promise specific outcomes. Be wary of attorneys who tell you exactly what you want to hear, as every case has pitfalls. Ask questions about costs, and don’t spend too much time meeting with an attorney that you can’t afford.

Overall, you should have reasonable expectations, but the saying, “when you know, you know,” should apply in choosing the right attorney for your case.

Bottom Line

The attorney you choose to represent you should be a local attorney who is professional, knowledgeable, responsive and who communicates well with you. This attorney is someone you trust and feel comfortable with. Divorce is a highly personal and emotional process which can have a significant impact on your life. This is an important decision, and there are no guarantees in this process. However, if you follow these tips, you’ll find the right one. Those seeking representation in a divorce may reach me at christina.obrien@henlaw.com or by phone at 239-344-1279. 

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