Swipe left, swipe right; fill out a long questionnaire to find your perfect match…..does this sound familiar? There are several website to find the “perfect” this, the “perfect” that and so on, but HOW do you find the “perfect” divorce attorney?
Let’s begin by remembering – hiring an attorney in any legal matter is a very important decision. Selecting a divorce lawyer to represent you and your best interest in a divorce case is a decision that will impact the present and future of you and your family.
The first important step will be your consultation. DO NOT be afraid to ask questions and toss out scenarios to measure how the attorney responds to your concerns.
Remember, you are hiring someone. This process follows that same pattern as interviewing for a job. Know what your core areas of need are for your situation and ask questions that are targeted to best measure the competency level of your attorney.
Here are a few topics to cover during your consultation that will help you in choosing an attorney to represent you:
- Do you specialize in Family Law?
If you were having issues with your back, you wouldn’t go see a plastic surgeon would you? Of course not! Medicine requires highly specialized practice areas. Law is no different. You need an attorney that is highly skilled in all aspects of family law. If you have additional need for representation (ex. Protective orders, own a company, substantial assets) make sure your attorney is skilled in those practice areas as well.
- What is the fee schedule for handling my case?
Generally most divorce attorneys will set fees in one of two ways. The first and most popular method is charging a retainer. Attorney’s have a set hourly fee. The hourly fees are billed against the retainer that you pay and then you will receive statements for additional cost incurred after the retainer has been exhausted. Sometimes a second retainer is required. Have a clear understanding of the hourly fee when you will receive an itemized statement. The second billing method is a set billing fee for handling your entire case. This is NOT the common method; however, this could be used in uncontested divorce cases.
- What additional cost should I expect?
Fees associated with Private Investigators, subpoenas, experts, depositions, court cost are generally NOT included in the standard hourly attorney fees. These costs are passed along to the client. The nature of your case will determine which of the additional services may or may not be needed.
- Who else will be assisting on my case?
Building trust during the divorce process is vital! You can expect to hear from your attorney and administrative professionals in the office. Please remember that the support staff is there to assist your attorney and are very seasoned and knowledgeable to handle aspects of your case. Only the attorney can provide you with legal advice.
- What resources can you provide to me to reduce my cost?
First, settlement is usually the main go-to method to reduce the financial burden of divorce. The least amount of time you spend, the more money you save. You have to remember to remain reasonable, be willing to operate with a give/take mentality and know what areas you will be willing to negotiate on to resolve the matter quickly and efficiently. Next option for reducing cost would be mediation.
As you ask the above questions and make a decision about hiring a lawyer, keep in mind that you have a right to expect your lawyer to do represent you and do what is in your best interest. Keep in mind that honesty with your attorney is a MUST. He/she cannot represent you to the best of their ability if they are blindsided with defaming information from the opposing side.
Once you have found a good lawyer please do not be intimidated by him/her. Ask questions and trust the answers you are given. The lawyer should also be willing to explain the decisions that need to be made during the process of your divorce as well as his recommendations. However, in the end, you are the one who makes the decisions. Ultimately, if you are not satisfied with the lawyer, remember that you have the right to terminate your relationship with him/her at any time, for any reason. Be careful in doing so, this can cause unnecessary delays or, worse, result in you having to proceed without proper representation.