Hiring A Divorce Attorney
One of the most important decisions you can make during your divorce process is hiring the right advisors to guide you through the process. Most of my divorced clients reflect that during their divorce they were in a very emotional state which is understandable since this is usually the most stressful event in a person’s life. For this reason, it is very important to have very capable advisors that are aligned with your values and goals. In this article, I will focus on hiring an attorney though there are other routes such as mediation that should be considered.
I recommend you interview a minimum of two (ideally three) attorneys. Meeting with each of them will give you a better sense of which attorney is right for you. You should also consider meeting with the attorney that you ultimately hire two times to make sure he/she is the right fit.
Family Law Focus – Hire an attorney that focuses on family law. You do not want to hire a criminal attorney, etc. to handle your divorce. You want an attorney that focuses on divorce and family law.
Experience – You want an attorney in your geographical area that knows what to expect of the judges that will be overseeing your case. I recommend a minimum of 5-10 years of experience. That said, if you are trying to reduce attorney fees, you may decide to work with an attorney who has less experience that has a more experienced partner.
Referrals – When you begin your search for an attorney, I recommend that you start by asking friends if they have an attorney they would recommend. If this is not an option, ask the attorney for three references of past clients.
Communication – One of the most common complaints that people have about working with their attorney is that the communication was poor. It is very important that your divorce attorney is accessible and prompt. Ask the attorney about their communication practices.
Fees- When you make your initial appointment with the divorce attorney, you should inquire about a consultation fee. Some attorneys do brief initial consultations for free, however, others charge a fee for consultation. Find out what the attorney’s hourly rate is, what the up-front retainer will be, whether any portion of the retainer is refundable if it is not used, and how often you can expect to receive invoices that detail their hourly charges and expenses. You should also ask if there are ways the attorney can be more efficient with their fees. For example, they may ask a junior associate or a para-legal to do some of the work at a lower rate. Insist on a contract signed by you and the attorney clearly outlining the fee agreement before contracting with an attorney.
Alignment – It is very important to hire an attorney that you like and with whom you feel aligned. This is possibly the most important aspect. Is the attorney an attorney that is good at a fight or is this an attorney that is strong yet able to communicate and compromise with your spouse’s attorney.
Important Questions – There are a few very important questions you should ask yourself. You should be able to strongly say yes to all these questions before you hire the attorney. Are you comfortable with the attorney, and are you confident in their abilities? Does the attorney appear to be genuinely concerned about your case and willing to spend the appropriate time to advocate for you during your divorce?
The more prepared you are for the meeting with the attorney, the more likely you will make a good selection. I invite you to click the link below and we will send you our free Empowered Divorce Guide. This is a workbook that will guide you through the three vital steps to prepare before you meet with the attorney.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and would like to discuss these matters with a professional, we offer a free 30-minute call to walk you through the guide and answer your questions.