Finding a Good Divorce Lawyer
Provided by HG.org
A good divorce lawyer can be a tremendous resource during the divorce process. However, it can be difficult to find an attorney when there are often so many to choose from and only limited information that you have about prospects. Use this guide to help you retain a lawyer who will assist you throughout the divorce process.
Role of the Divorce Lawyer
A good divorce lawyer should be able to fulfill several critical roles. He or she should help you understand the divorce process and narrow in on the particular issues at hand. While divorce is an emotional process and a divorce lawyer should handle it in a compassionate manner, he or she should help you concentrate on the particular legal issues. If you will have to testify or go to court, your lawyer should help you prepare for the proceedings. If you have questions along the way, your lawyer should address these.
Now that you know what to look for in a lawyer, you can begin the process of finding someone to potentially represent you. The first step in finding a good lawyer is to ask someone you trust for a recommendation. If you are close to the person making the recommendation, ask about his or her personal experience. You can also get referrals from a local bar association’s attorney referral service.
Once you have narrowed down your list of prospects, schedule an interview with the lawyer. Many do not charge for this initial meeting, but be sure that you check on this before meeting anyone so that you do get a surprise charge. Sometimes even if a lawyer is good and experienced, he or she may simply not be the right fit for you. His or her approach should mirror the want that you want to take. Remember that even though a divorce lawyer can advise you on decisions to make, you are the one who ultimately gets to decide important decisions such as whether to settle the case.
When you leave the initial interview, you should have a better understanding of the process of divorce in your particular county. You should understand the potential timeline involved and what challenges you may confront. As you complete the interview with your lawyer, listen to more than just his or her answers. Instead, focus on how the lawyer makes you feel and whether he or she seems like a good match for you.
List of Questions
So that you make an efficient use of your time, you may wish to prepare a list of questions before you meet with potential lawyers. You may want to ask about the lawyer’s experience, including the areas of law that he or she primarily concentrates. Some lawyers focus exclusively on family law while others incorporate family law into general practice. If you have specific issues in your divorce case that may require greater knowledge, ask about the lawyer’s experience in these matters. This may include child custody issues, same-sex marriage issues, adoption, military divorce or other areas.
You also want to ensure that your lawyer will have time to handle your case. If he or she has too many ongoing cases, you may feel shortchanged. You may also want to ask about the best way to contact him or her, whether it is via a phone call, in-office meeting or email.
You should have a clear understanding of the expenses related to hiring a lawyer. Be sure that you ask about how court costs and other costs are treated. Ask how often you will be billed and how much the retainer is. If someone other than your lawyer is working on your case, ask how they will be involved and what rate you will have to pay for their assistance. Ask about potential ways to save on legal fees, such as going through mediation or providing your lawyer with certain information to cut down on his or her costs. Ask for this information to be clearly spelled out in your legal agreement. If you do have questions about billing after retaining the lawyer’s services, ask these immediately upon receiving your bill.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.