How to Choose a Divorce Lawyer: 5 Important Tips
Going through a divorce can be incredibly challenging. It has been linked to serious negative health effects associated with extreme stress. Divorce has also been linked statistically to significant financial downsides, particularly if you do not have a prenuptial agreement or if you receive an unfavorable court ruling on alimony or the division of your marital assets.
Furthermore, navigating the legal and financial implications of divorce can be difficult if this is your first divorce proceeding and if you have no prior legal experience. That said, the alternative to divorce can often be much worse, and, thankfully, an experienced and capable divorce lawyer can help you navigate tricky court proceedings and limit your financial risks.
This article presents five general tips that can guide on how to choose the right divorce lawyer (although it does not constitute legal advice, which you can only receive from a lawyer who knows the facts of your particular case).
1. Check the Lawyer’s Primary Practice Area and Specialties
Few lawyers these days are true generalists. Attorneys will often have one type of law that they practice more than others. Many online websites, including a lawyer’s own practice page, provide information on what rough percentage of that lawyer’s caseload involves divorce or family law, as opposed to personal injury law, insurance defense work, contract law or commercial litigation, or any number of other practice areas.
You can also ask about a lawyer’s expertise and caseload in your initial consultation with them. As a rule of thumb, you should likely try to find a lawyer who specializes in family law to handle your divorce proceedings.
2. Meet with Your Prospective Lawyer in Person
Divorce is a very personal and emotional process. It is vital that you feel comfortable with and trust the divorce attorney you choose to work. The last thing you want is to dread a meeting with your lawyer or not feel comfortable opening up and sharing very personal information that could be relevant to your case.
Furthermore, the stress of a divorce sometimes brings out the worst in us. It is important to choose an attorney with whom you will not feel embarrassed displaying a range of emotions and also one that has a grounding, calming presence, while still assertively defending your rights and best interests.
3. Make Sure You Are Comfortable with Your Attorney’s Recommendations
During the divorce process, you will need to make many personal decisions regarding the division of your marital assets, alimony, child custody, and child support. While it is good to have an attorney who will inform you about your options and help you to navigate this process, you do not want to work with an attorney who tries to drive their own agenda in your divorce proceeding.
Sometimes, the decisions you may make for your family are not the most financially advantageous, but ultimately help you achieve your goals of moving forward. You also want to work with a divorce attorney who will be a source of encouragement and strength when your fortitude to protect your own interests is wading. During your initial consultation, you should discuss all of your options to get a feel for whether you are on the same page with the attorney.
4. Check a Lawyer’s Reviews But Remember the Associated Limitations
There are many websites that allow clients to post reviews or testimonials regarding their experience with lawyers. Remember, however, that lawyers may ask happy clients to post reviews, and, on the flip side of the coin, negative reviews may come from unstable or particularly angry clients.
The facts of the case and a judge’s ruling are ultimately outside a lawyer’s control; they strive to make the best possible arguments on your behalf and provide you with the best possible advice, but that’s all they can do. So, try not to read any one review or site in isolation, and, outside extreme cases, you likely should not make a decision solely based on reviews, as opposed to interviewing and vetting the lawyer in person.
5. Be Clear About the Attorneys Fees and Fee Structure
In interviewing and vetting your attorney, you should make sure that they do not hide the ball regarding how you will be billed. Will it be by the hour? If so, what do they bill for? The initial consultation? Administrative work? Phone calls? Alternatively, will you be billed a flat rate? If so, what does that rate include, exactly? Is there a flat rate for preparation work but another flat rate for appearances in court?
It is important that you receive thorough and transparent information about the legal fees that may be involved in your divorce proceeding.
An Advocate by Your Side
Going through a divorce is an incredibly stressful experience, both emotionally and financially. If you are considering filing for a divorce from your spouse or if you have been served with divorce papers, you need an advocate on your side to ensure that your interests are well-represented in this proceeding, so you can move forward to rebuild your life.
Attorney Betsy Fischer has over 20 years of experience in practicing family law in Louisiana and has helped countless clients navigate through this often-tumultuous time with grace, yet assertive representation for your best interests. For a consultation of your case, contact us today at (504) 780-8232.