Finding the Perfect Divorce Attorney
Finding the right divorce attorney can feel like an overwhelming task. And yet it is so very important. Getting a divorce is a huge experience that affects every aspect of your life. It is worth extra time and effort on your part to find a divorce attorney who will represent you exactly the way you want/need to be represented.
As you initiate your search, ask for recommendations. Therapists, clergy, physicians and other folks who have gotten a divorce are all good sources of information.
Your first contact with a lawyer is likely to be the phone call you make to his or her office. Pay attention to the following:
- How easy was it to contact this person? Was your phone call returned promptly? Generally you are going to want to know about this person's availability and accessibility - two vital components of the attorney/client relationship.
- Did he/she listen to you and answer your questions?
- Did he/she seem rushed or impatient?
- What was the tone? Think twice about hiring someone who is cold, distracted, and/or condescending.
- Is he/she willing to meet with you for an introductory meeting at a reduced or no fee?
Prepare for Your Appointment
Make a list of questions you want answered. This will help you make the most of your time. Never forget that the meter is usually running! A list and some forethought will also help you stay focused and on track.
Here are some questions to ask:
A Few Other Things to Keep in Mind
- What is your specialty? Are you trained in family law, specifically divorce and child custody? What is your primary caseload focus?
- How long have you been in practice?
- What is your fee schedule? Do you offer a payment plan? What retainer do you require? What is your hourly rate? What is your cost estimate for this case?
- Do you charge for telephone calls and/or e-mail time? If so, how much?
- How frequently do you return phone calls?
- How will you keep me informed regarding the progress of my case?
- Will I primarily be working with you or an associate?
- Do you have experience handling all types of divorce cases?
- How do you handle disagreements when you and your client disagree?
- What are your beliefs about marriage and divorce? Are you a parent? Are you divorced?
- Are you comfortable settling cases rather than going to court?
- How do you feel about litigation?
When Choosing a Lawyer
- Don't be bullied. This person works for you. You are paying him or her to represent you.
- You must have complete confidence in your divorce attorney. Look for someone who is competent, trustworthy and reliable. As a general rule, stay away from using attorneys who are family friends. This gets sticky really fast. In general, if you feel uneasy,find another attorney.
- Be completely truthful. Your divorce attorney needs every shred of information to be able to adequately represent you.
- Be prepared to hear some bad news. You want your attorney to be completely forthcoming with you, even if the news is bad.
- You aren't hiring your divorce attorney to be your friend.
- Never use the same attorney as your spouse.
- If you are not satisfied that your attorney is doing the best at representing you, say so. Ask for what you need. If your attorney's work remains unsatisfactory, find a new attorney.
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