Are you looking for a divorce attorney? If so, you’ll want to do your research before you sign on the dotted line.
Why is this important? To begin with, getting a divorce is an emotional time that may leave you confused or overwhelmed. This is particularly true if you have to make a decision on child custody on top of sorting out debts and assets.
As complicated as this process can be, choosing the right attorney is a great help. Unfortunately, many people aren’t sure what to look for in a divorce attorney. Here are five key factors that will make your hiring decision easier.
- Level of Comfort
Your divorce attorney is someone you’ll be entrusting with a very important task. For that reason, they must have your full confidence.
The first question you need to ask yourself is how comfortable you’re with them. Do you trust their abilities? Do they have your best interests in mind? The last thing you want is to find out you don’t get along with your attorney two weeks into the case.
One way to find this out is to set up an initial interview with your potential lawyer. During this consultation, observe them closely. There are plenty of tells that suggest whether an attorney will be a good fit for you or not.
For example, did they listen to you carefully or did they do most of the talking? Were they respectful or did they crack a joke that you considered inappropriate? Did they seem concerned or did they keep getting distracted by other things?
Your first impression of a lawyer tends to be a good indicator of whether you’ll be able to work with them. That said, it may take several meetings to come to the decision. If you’re not completely satisfied with these talks, look into other options.
- Customer Testimonials
In some ways, hiring an attorney is like buying a car. Before choosing a certain model, you’ll want to see how it worked for other people.
A good place to start looking is your prospective attorney’s website. The website should have plenty of information on the attorney’s education and experience. You should also be able to find some client reviews and testimonials.
For best results, ask the lawyer for a list of former clients you can contact. Hearing someone describe a positive experience can go a long way toward putting you at ease. If the attorney refuses to provide this list, that’s a big red flag.
The final place you should look is your state bar association. This is a good way to find out if a former client has filed a grievance against your prospective lawyer.
- Attorney Fees
Depending on your needs, hiring a divorce attorney can get expensive. Still, this is no reason to go over the budget you’ve set for yourself.
How much will a divorce lawyer charge you? That depends on several factors, including their location and experience. While you can get a general sense of their rates via their website, it’s better to schedule an appointment to find this out.
Keep in mind that this initial appointment may include a consultation fee. Some lawyers offer free consultations, but most experienced attorneys will charge for them. The consultation fee tends to be in the $100-$200 range.
During the appointment itself, find out what the lawyer’s hourly rate is. You should also ask about the up-front retainer and whether it’s refundable if it’s not used. Finally, ask how often they’ll send you invoices detailing the expenses.
When you decide to hire an attorney, the fees should be one of the primary concerns. Insist on signing a contract that outlines the fee agreement. This will dramatically lower the chance of getting surprised by hidden fees later on.
When it comes to what to look for in a divorce attorney, availability is easy to overlook. In reality, this may be a factor that makes or breaks the case.
See, many attorneys work on several cases at once. This doesn’t mean they can’t take your case, but they might be too busy to prioritize it. If you’re not comfortable with that, ask your lawyer how they’ll be able to make time for you.
For instance, ask how quickly you can expect a response to an email or voicemail you send. How often will they be available for face-to-face meetings? If you have a busy schedule as well, ask the attorney if they’re open for webcam meetings.
Their responses to these questions will give you an idea of how much attention you’ll get. If you expect the case to be turbulent, it may be better to look elsewhere.
- Personal Needs
To get the best divorce attorney for your needs, you need to consider your priorities. Every divorce case is different, and some are more difficult than others.
Start by taking a good look at your case. Do you expect a lot of conflicts or an alternative method or settlement? Are there major issues to fight over with your ex-spouse or only a few minor details to settle?
The big question is whether you expect to set foot in the courtroom. If not, get someone who specializes in alternatives to litigation like collaborative law. If you expect a fight, hire an attorney who can offer you the protection you deserve.
If your situation is special, find an attorney who handled similar cases before. For example, this includes you and your ex-spouse being in the military.
More on Looking for a Divorce Attorney
As daunting as it might seem, looking for a divorce attorney isn’t a scary process. By following these tips, you’ll find that out for yourself.
The key thing to remember is that you shouldn’t feel regrets after hiring a lawyer. Have your needs guide your choice and do your best to make an informed decision. A divorce is a big deal, so you’ll want an attorney who makes you feel secure.
Interested in more information on looking for a good divorce attorney? Want to know why an uncontested divorce attorney may be the best choice for you? Keep reading our Divorce section!