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Hiring the Right Attorney

Divorce Financial Planning: Hiring the Right Attorney

Many people ask me, what is the most important thing they can do in their divorce to make sure they have the best outcome. My answer always is: Hire the right attorney! 

I have been involved in many divorces that went well and many that went horribly wrong and the #1 difference I can see in successful outcomes is that they hired the right attorney. 

Because I work with so many attorneys on so many types of cases, I am in a unique position to understand the best fit for a particular situation.

Understanding Your Needs

The most important thing when it comes to hiring an attorney for your divorce is understanding exactly what your needs are. Different circumstances require different types of attorneys so make sure to research who would best serve your situation. Are there children involved? Do you want joint custody or sole custody? Are there complex asset divisions that need to be worked out? Knowing what kind of legal help you need will make it easier to find the best lawyer to fit your needs.

Making Sure You Find A Good Fit

Everyone has their own individual needs and preferences when it comes to picking an attorney and finding a good fit is key. Start by doing some research and checking into local bar associations or online reviews of lawyers in the area; seeing what people have said about specific attorneys can help narrow down who might be right for you. Also look at social media platforms such as LinkedIn for any additional information about prospective candidates. Schedule in-person interviews where possible (not all firms allow this) so that you can meet each candidate before making a decision; getting along with your lawyer is essential! Once you’ve narrowed things down look closely at credentials, experience and costs associated with legal representation etcetera – all these must align with desires before committing!

A Few Tips

  1. Make sure your attorney focuses on family law. We have been involved in situations where an attorney primarily focuses in other areas of law. You certainly wouldn’t go to a brain surgeon when you need a heart transplant. There is too much at stake in your divorce for you not to work with an expert.
  2. You should certainly ask about fees, but you shouldn’t necessarily avoid attorneys who charge a higher hourly rate. I have often seen that the attorneys that bill more per hour are often the attorneys who are more efficient and get quicker results in the divorce.
  3. Ask if there are other attorneys that you will be working with. Especially the more experienced attorneys are going to involve associates on their cases. You should understand who these other attorneys are, make sure they are qualified and understand when the other attorney might be involved in your case.
  4. Many divorces have a change in path at least once. Many divorces start in mediation and end up in litigation. Some attorneys prefer to mediate while others prefer to litigate. There are few attorneys to like to mediate and litigate. For this reason, we recommend you either find some of the few attorneys who do like to both mediate and litigate or make sure you are with a firm that has some attorneys that like to litigate and others that like to mediate. 
  5. While you should pick an attorney that you resonate with, you also must realize that you are hiring an attorney that can be a good fit for your soon-to-be ex-spouse. For example, if your husband has historically called most the shots and has a strong and/or controlling personality, you need to find a strong attorney that can help you get the best outcome.

Questions To Ask Before Signing On With Any Lawyer

It’s also important to ask yourself – or even ask the lawyer directly – some key questions before signing with them: Are they well versed in family law? How long have they been practicing divorce law? What strategies do they use in similar cases? Will they provide me with copies of any documents created during our case? Will I receive regular updates on my case’s progress? Asking questions like these upfront ensures that there won’t be any surprises down the line once proceedings begin.

Things To Remember During The Process

First off, remember it will take time sometimes more than estimated to get outcomes wanted no matter how competent the attorney seems. Secondly, the information provided must always accurately depict the true story, and avoid engaging in lies, we know sometimes painful truths are tough to hear. Thirdly, stay calm and try to remain unbiased, if anything gets heated, suggest taking a break and walking away. Last but foremost, don’t forget guidance offered through trained professionals is always helpful regardless of individual biases you may carry!

All In All…

Although going through a divorce and trying to search for an appropriate attorney match may seem daunting, remember you’re never alone. Scouring the internet and reading through credentials on every candidate all takes hard work but work that will eventually result in your desired outcome. Commit to searching diligently and stay positive throughout the process! Good luck with finding your ideal attorney, you got this!

Opinions expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Raymond James. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Raymond James and its advisors do not offer tax or legal advice. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.