In this article, I want to share how do you find a good divorce lawyer? I’ve got a downloadable checklist with all of these sources and questions in the link below, so click that. But in the meantime, here we go!
You know, first of all, you got to find that person. So, how do you find that person? Obviously, we have this internet thing now that’s helpful. One of the first sites that I would recommend would be Martindale.com. What you’ll do, is you’ll go there and type in your area, you’ll type in, “divorce”, depending on your situation, you may want to look for a collaborative divorce lawyer. But use Martindale.com as well as other online resources.
Lawyers.com is another one that I’ve gone through, it looks robust. You’ve got a lot of choices there. But what you’ll start to see is in these specialized lawyer search services, you’ll see the same attorneys coming up over and over again. I would also add, go and do, like, a general internet search for divorce attorneys in your area. And then finally I would add, what are the word-of-mouth recommendations for the people who are in your network?
If you know someone that’s gone through the divorce process — well –you might want to talk to them and see what they recommend as far as the people in your area that can help you. Okay, you’ve found some possible attorneys. How do you vet these folks to see if they’re going to be worth your time and be able to represent you well in your divorce?
You know, first of all, you gotta ask for a consultation. If they’re not willing to give you a free consultation, whether it be in person or over the phone, I would maybe relegate them to the back of the line. When you meet with them, there are some questions that I recommend that you ask to make sure that you’re dealing with somebody where divorce is their specialty and they’re going to represent you in the right way.
You know, first and foremost being, Do you practice family law exclusively? And if not, what percentage of your total work is based on doing divorce and family law work? That way, you’ll get an idea if this person’s a pro at family law and divorce cases. Second of all, how do you get paid? What’s your retainer? How much of a check am I going to stroke to you upfront? And the follow-up question to that is, Hey, if we don’t use all of this retainer, is a portion refundable? If we go beyond my retainer, how am I billed? Is it hourly? Is it like, a flat fee? Get the details of the billing. In that vein, ask them how much you think the entire divorce will cost based on what they know.
You know, of course, they’re not going to be able to give you a round number, but somewhere — like a ballpark, would be close enough. If they’re a good attorney, they’ll have done enough of these cases to be able to say, hey, I think it’s going to go this way. I think it’s going to take this many hours. You know, plus or minus, it would cost this. Again, this is an investment. So, don’t necessarily run away from the highest-paid lawyer or run to the lowest cost lawyer as well. If your situation calls for it, ask if they would be open to mediation or a collaborative divorce process.
Now, collaborative divorce – which is easy for me to say — is a special process that they may or may not be experienced with. So if this is something that could potentially apply to your situation, ask if they’ve got experience with that. Mediation, I think, is a little bit more common. I personally went through the mediation process, which was interesting.
At some point, I’ll have to write an article about that as well! But, yeah, it could potentially save you a ton of time and money and heartache if you’re able to work with your soon-to-be-ex through this process. As them, hey, based on what you know, what do you think the outcome of this divorce is going to be? And what you’re looking for is just someone who’s going to level with you. You know, this is going to be, at times, a trying process, so what you want is someone that’s on your side that can just look you in the eye and tell you how things are going to be. Be honest with you. Ask them how many of their cases go to court, on a percentage basis.
What you’re looking for here is somebody who’s going to be able to negotiate and work with things on a positive basis rather than being combative. If you’re going to court, you’re looking at your legal expenses going way up. That thought leads to my next question, Are you willing to go to court if necessary?
When it comes to visitation and child support and those kinds of things, again, you’re talking about the rest of your life that you may be stuck with, like, alimony payments, for instance. So, it is worth, maybe, going to court over these things instead of just taking the first deal that comes along. Are they going to be handling your case or are they going to have an associate work it for you? If they’re going to working it personally, that’s great. If they’re going to have an associate help them or take point on the case, ask to meet that person, at least.
Be sure and ask them, if it’s a potential attorney, hey, how frequently am I going to hear from you? You know, one thing — these attorneys are busy, just like the rest of us. And getting clear agreements around how frequently you’re going to talk rather than just having expectations that may not get met is a good strategy.
And also, finally, be sure and ask them, hey, if I call you, how long is it going to take for you to get back to me? That communication process: key for having this go right. Hey folks! Those are my tips for finding a good divorce lawyer. If you want a checklist with all these questions and sources, click the link below.