If you are like most people when facing a divorce, you probably have a lot of confusion regarding the divorce process and how to move forward. There are a lot of attorneys out there. How do you find the best one for your needs? I have put together this list of things to consider when looking for a divorce attorney to make your search a little easier.
1. The Attorney’s Reputation
As you are probably already aware, there are a lot of attorneys on the internet. Some attorneys are great, some attorneys are not so great. How can you figure out the great attorneys from the not-so-great attorneys? First, you can look at the attorney’s client reviews. These are reviews left by former clients regarding the level of service they received from the attorney. You want to look for attorneys that have mostly positive reviews with 4-5 stars? You should probably steer clear of attorneys that have very low client reviews.
You can also ask around about any attorneys you are considering for hiring. Have any of your friends or colleagues worked with or know of with a divorce attorney they can recommend? One of the best ways to get a feel for a potential attorney is to talk to someone who has already used that attorney. Keep in mind that your situation may not be the same as the person you are talking to, so always call the attorney to discuss pricing and procedure for your case.
2. Your Needs
Every divorce attorney is not great for every person. You need to find the attorney that has the best experience handling the issues you will be facing in your divorce. Are you a high-income earner with a lot of property facing a spousal support and separation of community property case? If so, you want to look for a divorce attorney who routinely works with high income earners. Are you looking for a simple, uncontested divorce for a low cost? Then you want to look for an attorney who offers low cost uncontested divorces. After searching for attorneys online or receiving recommendations from friends and colleagues, call a few law firms to discuss your issues to find an attorney who will work best for your needs.
3. Your Budget
Again, not all divorce attorneys are the same, especially when it comes to their fees. Before hiring an attorney, you need to discuss fees. During your initial call or consultation with an attorney, explain your case as best you can and ask for an estimate of how much your case will cost. Some attorneys offer flat fees for some types of divorce cases, but most attorneys charge an advance deposit and bill hourly. If the attorney offers a flat fee, make sure you understand what the flat fee covers and if there will be any additional charges. If the attorney bills hourly with an advance deposit, you need to know the hourly fee, the amount of the advance deposit, and what type of work the attorney bills for on an hourly basis. This will lessen the chance of being surprised later when your bill arrives. Do not hire an attorney you cannot afford. If the fees provided to you by an attorney are too high, ask the attorney for referrals to other attorneys or programs that may work better for you.
A final point on budget – I would caution against hiring an attorney simply because he/she is the least expensive option available. Cheapest does not always mean best. If you find an attorney offering low cost divorces, make sure to look over their client reviews and ask friends or colleagues about their experience if they have used the attorney in the past.
4. Clear Approach
When you are hiring a divorce attorney, you are hiring a professional to help you navigate the divorce process. It is important that you understand what issues you are facing, your ultimate end goal, and how to achieve that end goal. Any attorney you hire should explain your case to you in clear, understandable language (not legalese). A good communicator is someone who listens and clearly responds to your questions. You should not have any remaining questions after speaking with your attorney. You can usually get a feel for whether an attorney can provide a clear approach to your issues after speaking on the phone or in an in-office meeting with the attorney.
5. Personal Attention
One of the most common complaints with divorce attorneys is that the client was unable to get in touch with their attorney. It is important that your attorney is accessible and prompt in returning calls and emails. Some attorneys have office staff such as associates, paralegals, and administrative assistants. Your attorney should explain whether any of these staff members will be working on your case and the best way to get any questions answered quickly.
The best way to find out about an attorney’s level of client attention is to ask former clients. However, you can usually determine how much client interaction an attorney has from your initial contact with the law firm. Some things to consider- did the attorney personally return your phone call, how quickly was your phone call returned, and how quickly were you able to set up a meeting with the attorney? Hiring a divorce attorney shouldn’t be a scary process, and you shouldn’t be left with regret after deciding on your attorney. When making your choice, look at client reviews and ask for recommendations before you hire an attorney. Consider your needs and look for an attorney who can best accomplish your goals within your price range. Remember that your divorce or separation is one of the most impactful experiences in your life, so consider hiring a divorce attorney who makes you feel confident and secure.