How to Find the Best Divorce Attorney
Posted in Divorce on August 10, 2015
The decision to divorce is rarely a sudden one, and most people spend a lot of time thinking about divorce before deciding to make it happen. Whether it’s you or your spouse who has decided to file, however, one thing is for certain: you want to retain the best divorce attorney you can find.
What exactly does that mean? Obviously you want someone with experience in divorce law, and someone who’s ethical and honest. Beyond that, there are a number of things that might make a divorce attorney “best” for you. Here are some things you should think about before signing a retainer agreement.
Even when you’ve been served with a divorce complaint and have a limited amount of time to respond, you should still try to talk to at least a couple of attorneys before making a decision. If you’re filing, of course, you have the luxury of more time to make a decision. If you explain that you’ve been served with divorce papers, most attorneys will make an effort to see you as soon as possible.
Most people who hire a divorce attorney are doing so for the first time. There are many different types of divorce attorneys, with myriad approaches. It’s hard to know who you’ll work best with without exploring your options.
Consider your goals.
You’d never set out on a road trip without having a destination in mind. Even if you don’t know exactly where you want to end up, you have some ideas what you want your destination to be like. Divorce is the same. Beyond the basic result of not being married any longer, what’s important to you? Financial security? Maintaining your bond with your children? A good co-parenting relationship with your ex? If you don’t have your goals in mind when you begin your divorce, you may end up with an outcome far from what you need.
A good divorce attorney will not only ask you about your goals. He or she will help you identify them, since they may not always be obvious, even to you. Many people are so focused on the need for the divorce that they haven’t taken time to think about what they want their lives to look like afterward. The best attorney will help you focus on your interests and needs, and explore your options for achieving them.
You and your divorce attorney are embarking on a journey together in which you each have roles. Your attorney’s role is to know the law, to explain it to you, and to negotiate and advocate for your needs. Your attorney’s job is also to be honest with you and help you to know what you can realistically expect from the process.
You, however, have unique knowledge of your family and what you and your children need, and your job is to help your attorney understand that. To continue the road trip analogy, your attorney is familiar with the roads and knows how to drive the car, but you’re the one who decides on the intended destination. Be wary of an attorney who wants to speed ahead without any input from you, or who talks over your questions and concerns.
Trust your gut.
As with any journey, a divorce is easier and more successful when you are comfortable with your fellow traveler; in this case, that’s your attorney. It doesn’t matter if a divorce attorney got a rave review from your neighbor, or has a reputation for getting great results. If you are not comfortable with a prospective attorney, there’s probably a good reason, even if you’re struggling to articulate it. Proceed with caution. As a general rule, talking with your attorney should make you feel more informed, and as if you’ve been treated with respect. If an attorney doesn’t make you feel that way when they are courting your business, the situation is unlikely to improve once they have it.