The first thing most people do when they think about getting a divorce is to immediately hire a divorce lawyer. While there is nothing wrong with getting legal advice, hiring the first divorce lawyer you can find is rarely a good choice. If you want to find a good divorce lawyer, you will usually have to put in a bit of time and effort. Since you will be working closely with that attorney for months, or possibly years, it will be well worth it.
The First Question to Ask Yourself
The first question you should ask yourself before you even think of hiring a divorce lawyer is: Which divorce process do I want to use? You need to choose your divorce process before you choose the lawyer. Why? Because not all divorce lawyers are good at handling all types of divorce cases.
If you want to get divorced amicably, you don’t want to hire a legal gladiator. That kind of an attorney will only escalate the conflict between you and your spouse.. On the other hand, if your spouse has already hired a gladiator and you are in court fighting for your life, you need to hire an attorney who can handle that level of litigation, and can fight back on your behalf. If you hire a more gentle, mediation-friendly attorney in that situation, you are going to get creamed!
How to Find a Good Divorce Lawyer
After you know which divorce process you want to use, you can focus on finding a divorce lawyer who will be able to represent you in the divorce process of your choice.
The best way to find a good divorce lawyer is through a referral. Word of mouth still beats almost every other method of finding a lawyer. If you know someone who went through a divorce (and hopefully used the same divorce process you want to use) get the name of the attorney that person used. If that person hated their lawyer, get that lawyer’s name too. Knowing who to avoid is as valuable as knowing who to hire.
If you don’t know anyone who was happy with their divorce lawyer, you can contact the bar association in your area, or try to get referrals from a divorce support group. Just remember, though, that it is not uncommon for lawyers to pay bar associations, or make “donations” to support groups, in order to get their referrals. That doesn’t mean that you can’t find a good lawyer that way. But, don’t be naive either.
You can also search the internet for divorce attorneys in your area. But, be careful. The lawyer with the flashiest website, or the biggest marketing budget, may not be the best lawyer for you.
What to Look for in a Divorce Attorney
The most important thing you should look for in a divorce attorney is someone who is skilled in handling divorce cases and has experience using the divorce process you are going to use. You also need an attorney you feel comfortable talking with, someone who is on the same page as you. You want to hire a lawyer who listens to you. Your attorney should never intimidate you, or make you cry. Your lawyer should never blow you off, or make you feel small.
You also want to make sure you are comfortable with your attorney’s fee structure. You might have found the greatest attorney in the world, but if s/he charges $500 per hour, and you have a total of $1500 to spend on your entire contested divorce, you are going to have a problem. You need to hire an attorney who is right for you in every way – and that includes one who is right for your budget.
Here is a tip: if you want to keep your divorce legal fees low, you need to be prepared. CLICK the button below to get your FREE Divorce Checklist. Start putting together the documents that you and your attorney will need now.