Choosing the Right Divorce Attorney

May 13, 2024

One of the first difficult choices you're going to have in your divorce case is selecting the right divorce attorneys. There are a lot of family lawyers out there, but how do you know who is good? Who is going to be the right fit for your personality? Who is the best attorney with expertise on the specific issues in your case?

Some of the most important considerations in choosing the right divorce attorney for your case include:

  • Experience -  You want an attorney who has lots of experience in family court. It is helpful to have a lawyer who has dealt with issues similar to those in your case. They will know how to present the issues to the judge, how judges typically rule on these matters, and what you can expect to happen in court. The more complicated your case, the more experienced your attorney should be.
  • Communication - One of the most frustrating parts of dealing with a divorce lawyer can be their communication style. You want to know that you can communicate with the attorney on whom you are relying for advice and assistance during a really difficult time of your life. Ask the attorneys you interview how they prefer to communicate (in person, telephone, email, text message, video call, or something else). If they prefer to communicate with email, but you'd rather have phone calls, then maybe this attorney is not for you. Inquire about how long you should expect to wait for a response when you have questions or concerns. Who will get back to you.. the attorney, an associate attorney, a paralegal, or someone else? It is important to know exactly what to expect so you can decide if the attorney's process works for you.
  • Cost - Understand what the fees and billing arrangements will be. How much is the retainer and what forms of payment does the law office take? How often will you have to replenish the retainer? Will invoices be billed agains the retainer, or is the retainer held in trust and applied to your last bill? How much can you expected your total fees in the case to be? You will also want to get into more detail about billing rates of different staff members, who will be working on your case, and what the billing practices are. (There is a list of specific questions you should ask about these issues in our Finding the Right ATTORNEY mini-course.)
  • Fit - We like to say that you need to find a divorce attorney that is a "right fit" for you. It comes down to whether you feel comfortable with the lawyer. Does he or she seem honest? Does their attitude toward your case work for you? Do they seem easy to talk to? Does it feel like you will get along well? Do they seem to understand you and are they listening to your concerns? Many times this just comes down to your gut feel about the divorce lawyer. This is why it's important to talk to a few attorneys before you make a decision. If you only talk to one, you don't know how comfortable you feel. But if you talk to three, you'll probably have a really good idea of who you feel better about working with.

Most of us don't have a list of qualified divorce attorneys to go to, so that means we're going to have to start from scratching with finding the right attorney. We see law firm advertisements on television and billboards, but how do you know who is competent, how aggressive they'll be, and whether you can afford them? That's why you need to sit down with a few attorneys, know the right questions to ask, and then feel more confident in the decision you make.

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