Divorce is scary. It is a big change. Your family is changing. Where you live is changing. In short, life is changing.
In those changing times, it’s often a struggle to know where to turn for help with the process. One of the common stories we hear about is people going through lawyer after lawyer looking for someone who understands their pain.
Divorce can be time consuming and expensive without the right lawyer. So in order to save time and money we have 7 quick steps that are designed to put you in the right state of mind when looking for a lawyer.
- Be Realistic
This is the most important thing. If you’re looking for someone to inflict pain on your ex and have someone listen to your complaints you might be better off in therapy then with a lawyer. Every time you talk with a lawyer the clock is running.
You want to call and spend an hour complaining about all the wrong your ex has done fine – but you’re paying for it. A better use of your energy would be discussions with your lawyer about what he or she needs from you to move the process along. Your lawyer will appreciate it and so will your bank account.
2. Interview and Research Potential Attorneys
Ask friends, family, and search on the internet for the names of lawyers who handle divorce. Once you have the names give each of them a call. How does their staff answer the phone? Do they encourage you to come for an office appointment? Do they sound sure about being able to handle your issue?
When you meet with the lawyer ask about their history, who they have represented, their rates, and client policies (i.e. does the lawyer provide monthly updates, etc.). Ask to meet associates and all others who will be handling your case.
3. Know What You Want
While most lawyers will not tell you this, you do not always need a lawyer. If your divorce is an uncontested one you can often hire a lawyer for a flat fee to work out the details with your ex. You can also go to mediation and work out whatever details in mediation. Those are less expensive options.
If you have a contested divorce know what exactly you want. A divorce is a negotiation you will have to do a little give and take in order to come to a resolution you both can live with. We often advise clients to always look at the big picture because getting caught in the weeds
4. Identify Atleast Three Different Lawyers
Not all lawyers are the same. We all might have the same license to practice law but not all lawyers have the same training and experience. Idealistically you should hire someone who specializes in family law. However, that should not be the end all be all with regard to hiring a lawyer. You need an attorney who understands the process, communicates, and negotiates well. This is important because most divorces and family law cases are a matter of negotiation rather than a full blown fight. Another thing to consider is whether or not the lawyer you hire is gifted at trial. If negotiations breakdown and trial is set its best to have someone who is battle tested and ready.
5. Meet with and Conduct Research on the Potential Lawyers
Give them a call. Ask about experience, the types of clients they represent, why they chose to do family law, their contact policy, etc. Not every lawyer will discuss all of these things on the phone and some may encourage you to come to the office for a consult. If you do meet with the lawyer also ask about their staff and the people who would be working on the case.
6. Make Your Choice
This one is the easiest and probably the hardest make it a choice.
Houson R. Lafrance