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Choosing an Attorney

August 18, 2016 8:53 am

A divorce can be one of the most difficult events in a person’s life. Divorce is also one of the few times – and possibly the only time – someone will have to deal with the judicial system.

Ending a marriage is made more complex by the intricacies of the divorce process and the physical and emotional stress that comes from dealing with issues such as child custody, support and division of assets.

Understanding the legal process is as confusing as understanding complex medical procedures, and just like you need to trust your doctor, you need to have confidence in your attorney.

How do you choose an attorney who is professional, knowledgeable and communicates well? Someone you trust, feel comfortable with and who supports your basic philosophy toward divorce? An attorney who recognizes the importance of your children and puts them first in the process?

Here are some suggestions:

Get referrals
Ask friends who may have gone through a divorce what they liked and disliked about their attorneys. Was their case more or less complex than yours? Was the attorney both competent in handling emotional issues such as child custody and business matters such as division of assets? And, you may also want to ask about the spouse’s legal counsel.

Meet with multiple attorneys
You may want to schedule initial consultations with a few attorneys. Although most attorneys won’t see you free of charge, some may offer discounts for an initial consultation.

Ask questions
Come prepared with a list of questions regarding your needs from an attorney as well as your concerns in your case. Ask how clients are billed and what the billing rates are for staff working on your case.
Most family law attorneys charge for all time spent working on your case. This includes time for phone calls, drafting documents, court preparation and travel.

You want to make sure your attorney is someone who returns phone calls, and that you’ll receive copies of all correspondence received and generated.

It will be hard for any attorney to give you an accurate estimate of the cost for the divorce because there are so many variables. And, beware of any attorney who guarantees certain results. An attorney can only promise to put forth their best effort in representing you.

Develop strong lines of communication
You and your attorney should be able to communicate effectively. Your attorney can only give you options and advise you on probable outcomes for each, but nothing is guaranteed.

Divorce is a personal and emotional process. The outcome will have a significant impact on your life. Choosing the right attorney is an important decision, and there are no guarantees. However, if you follow these steps, you’ll find the right one — the one who listens to what you want, advises you well and has your best interest at heart.