Divorce is a difficult and often daunting prospect, but it’s one that thousands of Americans must face every year. In order to get through the legal minefield that is the divorce process, you must have a good divorce lawyer that you trust. Finding one is tough, but if you follow this guide the process should be a lot smoother.
The very first step is to figure out what you want from the divorce. Child custody, child support, assets, or whatever else you want out of the proceedings is something you should know before you shop around for a divorce attorney. After you figure out what you need to get from the divorce, you should also decide on a budget. Legal fees of any sort can pile up quickly if you don’t establish how much money you actually have for the process.
The next step is to ask for recommendations. Friends and family are the first place to start, along with asking for recommendations from any other legal experts you know or have used in the past. You should also use legal review sites to find the top-rated lawyers in your state, as well as check out the ratings for lawyers who were recommended to you. However, keep in mind that some jurisdictions or firms have rules about review sites and some lawyers who have no or low ratings may just not be able to advertise or participate in rating programs.
Assemble a list of at least five lawyers and call them up for a consultation. Most law firms offer free consultations over the phone, and you should use this free consultation to get an idea of how the lawyer would represent you, any legal advice they have for your situation, and also how much they would charge.
During the consultation, you should keep an eye out for some tale-tale signs of a bad lawyer. If the lawyer is constantly distracted during your consultation, they will be distracted through the whole process. Likewise, if the lawyer is making big promises, they really just want to close the deal and don’t have your best interest in mind.
You should beware that if the lawyer is divulging confidential information from other past clients, they will most likely do the same thing with your information. Finally, keep in mind that legal experts who bad mouth or act disrespectfully towards the other divorce attorneys will treat you and your case with that same amount of respect. Any legal expert you choose should act professionally, and any who don’t are wasting your time and money at best and potentially ruining your life at worst.
Something to be aware of when dealing with a lawyer is that they aren’t a therapist. Try to keep any venting and emotional expressions to a minimum since most charge by the hour and time spent listening to anything that isn’t related to the case is money wasted on your end.
With all of that being said, the best thing to keep in mind is that you want a lawyer who is local, can act professionally, listen to what you need, is respected by clients, and can also fit into your budget. That might sound like a lot, but it’s not that hard once you weed out the bad actors.