Hiring a divorce attorney is an unpleasant yet realistic truth for many Americans. It is important to do your homework before hiring someone to handle such delicate matters.
Luckily, there is strength in numbers. As the divorce rate steadily climbs each year, there are more than enough people to consult about finding a reputable attorney. Consider your circle of friends and colleagues. Who is divorced? Chances are there is at least one person who is willing to fill you in on the good, the bad and the ugly of dealing with a divorce attorney. Do not be shy or embarrassed about asking a lot of questions, as this information will help you make an informed decision.
Once you have a few names, set up some meet & greet appointments. This is a chance to size up the person who could be representing you. Once the meeting begins, ask the relevant questions: What is the focus of your practice? Are you a general practice law firm? Have you handled my type of case before?
After the meeting, run an Internet search on the lawyer and his practice and look for websites with a blog. Blogs are a great way to get to know a lawyer because it provides a peek into their thought process. It might even have a few entries relevant to your case.
Personality is another important consideration. You are going to be spending a significant amount of time with this person, so mutual understanding and respect should be a factor in your decision. Consider it this way: If you’re clashing with your attorney and your soon-to -be -ex, that’s two battles to fight.
So what are the ideal qualities? Generally, you want a divorce lawyer who’s willing to be aggressive but who is not an aggressive person. He or she needs to know how to stand firm yet not be a piranha in the court room. Remember, divorce is mostly about negotiations and an always aggressive person does not generally negotiate well.
Lastly, consider price. This factor is listed last for a reason. Some things in life require you to look past a monetary figure. Hopefully, finding a divorce lawyer is a once in a lifetime process. Bargain shopping is not the way to go. Quality and personality should have more weight than the price tag.
Price should be taken into consideration and context. If you cannot afford a $300/hour attorney, then you can’t afford them. However, if it is a close call between a $200/hour attorney and a $250/hour attorney, then you might want to consider what the $250 brings you. Would you prefer an easy going person with a great reputation, or a slimy character who charges less?
Some lawyers are willing to work out a payment plan. This is a viable option for people on a budget who do not want to compromise quality for the sake of money. Note: If you cannot afford a lawyer, consider calling your local legal aid office. If you qualify for the services, a lawyer will at least discuss the legal aspects of your case and may continue to answer questions on an ongoing basis during your proceedings while you represent yourself. You might want to consider asking whether the legal aid office has a pro bono program. The office may have a list of private attorneys that are willing to take on cases referred by legal aid, at little or no cost.