Table of Contents
- 1. Find Someone Who Has Experience With Divorces
- 2. Understand Which Process You Should Use
- 3. Your Lawyer Should Focus on You
- 4. Your Lawyer Should Respect Your Emotions
- 5. They Should Have Connections
- 6. They Should Be Honest and Accurate
- 7. They Should Be Affordable
- 8. They Should Be Successful
- Things to Consider for Selecting Divorce Lawyers
Divorce is misunderstood. More than 2.1 million couples got married in the United States in 2018.
Less than 800,000 couples got divorced the same year. Divorce rates are going down, far below the often-cited “half of marriages end in divorce” statistic.
Divorce lawyers are similarly misunderstood. Many people assume they stand up in court and yell at the other. That is rarely, if ever, the case.
When you are preparing for your divorce, you need to know the facts for selecting divorce lawyers. Here are eight things you should look for before making your selection.
1. Find Someone Who Has Experience With Divorces
Divorce law is tricky. It is not as simple as signing a piece of paper and dissolving a marriage. It involves negotiating financial assets and child custody and mediating between two very unhappy parties.
This is why it is essential to find someone with experience in divorces. But it’s not enough to read the “About” page on their website and see how many years they have run their law firm.
Break down some individual components. See how much experience they have in each step of the process, from mediation to custody to court hearings. Assess if they have experience with abusive relationships or dealing with unfaithful partners.
A lawyer may have personal experience, going through a divorce of their own. Talk to them about what that was like. If you develop a good rapport with them, consider them strongly.
2. Understand Which Process You Should Use
There are several ways you can engage in the divorce process. Mediation is an informal process, though it is one you can get legal help with. Two parties meet with an arbitrator to discuss their conflict and eventually reach a mutual resolution.
A collaborative divorce also takes place outside the court. The two parties negotiate, but they use lawyers instead of arbitrators. They sign a contract pledging not to go to court if things don’t work out.
Cooperative divorce is similar to a collaborative divorce. But the two parties do not sign a contract. The threat of legal action remains on the table.
Litigation involves both parties submitting to family court. It comes as a last resort after all other options have failed. They meet in front of a judge who makes decisions about what should happen.
Whichever process you pick, you need to address many issues. You need to go over the consequences of not paying child support or allowing visitation. Your lawyer should understand all of these processes and defend you during your selected one.
3. Your Lawyer Should Focus on You
Divorce lawyers have a lot of clients. Expecting your lawyer to give you their sole attention is unreasonable.
But your lawyer shouldn’t be overwhelmed and inattentive. They should make time to meet with you and handle your phone calls. They should remember your name and details when you give them a call.
Their paralegals should reach out to you and give you updates on proceedings and mediations. You should have a good rapport with everybody at the law firm.
4. Your Lawyer Should Respect Your Emotions
Divorce is an emotionally rocky time. You may be feeling depression and anxiety over your relationship ending.
If you have children, they may be struggling with their mental health. A 2019 study found that the children of divorced parents are twice as likely to participate in risky sex and live in poverty.
Your lawyer should return your phone calls and give you updates. But they should also give you some degree of distance. They should understand if you become emotional during a conversation.
Your lawyer should schedule appointments at times that are convenient to you. You should have plenty of time to be with yourself and care for your kids. You must make your children feel affirmed.
5. They Should Have Connections
A good lawyer has strong connections in their community. They have worked with mediators, clerks, and judges in the past. They have mutual respect, even when they disagree.
That rapport can reap dividends for you. They may be able to schedule events for a time and place that works best for you. They can move filing deadlines back or tap someone for assistance.
Ask around about your attorney. If you can, get references and reviews from other lawyers and legal professionals. If you get bad notices, don’t continue with this attorney.
6. They Should Be Honest and Accurate
Client-lawyer confidentiality works both ways. You can be honest with your attorney about any mistakes you made, and they cannot tell anyone.
Your attorney should be honest with you. If they think you have a weak case, they should tell you. If they are lacking evidence that you can provide, they should ask you for help.
Your attorney mustn’t make mistakes. Even typos in legal documents matter. If they are making a bunch of mistakes, consider switching to someone else.
7. They Should Be Affordable
Most divorce lawyers charge by the hour. Some may charge several hundred dollars, while others charge cheaper. In general, the cheaper the rates, the less experience the lawyer has.
Find a price that fits your range of expenses. Start comparing lawyer fees as soon as possible.
8. They Should Be Successful
Finding a successful lawyer is a no-brainer. But assessing how a lawyer is successful is a little difficult.
You want a lawyer who is successful within your selected divorce process. You want someone who has negotiated finances and custody, even if you don’t have children.
Talk to your lawyer about their previous experiences. Ask for specific examples of divorce cases they won and lost. Then do your own research and see if the lawyer was accurate or left anything out.
Things to Consider for Selecting Divorce Lawyers
Selecting divorce lawyers the right way is essential for success. Your lawyer should have experience across all processes for negotiating divorce.
However many clients they have, they should keep you in mind. They should respect the needs of you and your children.
They should have deep connections with the local legal community. They should be honest and accurate with you. You should be able to afford them, yet they should also be successful.
The law can be hard to wrap your head around. Get the clarity you need by following the coverage we have on our website.