Deciding to get a divorce can be difficult for anyone. Unfortunately, there are times when adults must decide to part ways but reaching that point doesn’t have to mean the end of the world and it doesn’t have to lead to a messy legal battle. If you’re going through a divorce, you’re probably wondering what to do next and who to call for help. Luckily, the right attorney can help guide you through the divorce process and make things a little bit easier.
But how do you find the right divorce lawyer? What will the divorce process be like? What will your finances look like? Our 30 years of experience as Oakland County divorce lawyers has given us the answers to these and so many other questions. That’s why we put together this list of tips for hiring the right divorce attorney.
1. Decide what divorce process you want to use and what legal services you need. – It’s very important to make a decision about the divorce process first, since the type of divorce process you begin with will greatly determine the results of the divorce. Do you want to use a mediation, litigation, collaborative divorce or cooperative divorce? Once you decide, look for an attorney who has had success with the type of divorce process you want. This will go a long way to making sure you are satisfied with the result.
After you decide which process is right for you, think about what legal services you will need. Not everyone needs a $500 per hour firm that specializes in divorce. If you have accumulated a lot of assets, a business or have an otherwise complicated financial situation, then you may actually want an attorney with more experience in finance than anything else. However, if you’ve had a short marriage, no kids or are renting your home you may only need a few simple consultations.
Also, remember that you can get advice from lawyers in order to help you choose a lawyer. Actually, consulting with multiple attorneys is one of the best ways to find the right one for you.
2. Interview multiple divorce lawyers. – The idea of going to multiple lawyers and rehashing the story of what lead to your impending divorce may seem tiring. However, consulting with more than one attorney is vital to making a good decision. Retelling your story will allow you to hear multiple perspectives from multiple legal minds. Hearing different opinions on how your case should be handled will help you determine what type of divorce you need and who’s strategy you want to go with.
You should also write down a list of questions you’d like to ask before you go into each interview. It’s normal to be nervous when discussing something this personal with someone you don’t know. That’s why it’s so important to write your questions down so that you don’t forget them while trying to explain your situation. As you are visiting multiple attorneys, you’ll probably find that you have additional questions as well. Make sure you write those down too and take them to your next interview.
3. Figure out what you can afford. – You have to be honest with yourself and balance the level of legal services that you need with the cost of the services that you can afford. If you own a large number of assets and have a six figure salary, it may be a good idea to acquire legal services that may be costlier, since doing so may end up saving a lot of your assets. Conversely, if you are struggling to make ends meet, hiring a high-powered specialty divorce lawyer may be overkill.
4. Get a referral. – Chances are there is someone in your family or circle of friends who knows of a good attorney. If you know someone who has recently been divorced, find out if they were satisfied with their representation. If so, ask them for the name of their lawyer. Even if you only know of a non-divorce lawyer, ask them for a reference. People in the legal field talk to and network with each other frequently, so finding someone to talk to shouldn’t be too much of a chore.
5. Use the internet to your advantage. – Once you’ve gotten that referral, use the internet do some research on the attorney you’re thinking of meeting with. A face-to-face meeting is still a must before you make a decision, but doing some online research will prevent you from having to make appointments with every law firm in the city. If an attorney you were referred to doesn’t have an updated and attractive website or worse, no website at all, then it may be a sign that they are not in touch with the needs of the general public. Having a good website doesn’t automatically make you a great attorney, but it shows that you know what it takes to do business in the modern world.
6. But be careful of review sites. – When you’re researching online, remember that it’s best to read through some of the pages on the website of the attorney rather than relying on review sites alone. Rating sites use many different criteria to determine how ratings are given and that criteria are not universal across sites. This means that a lawyers score one site may be very different than that same lawyers rating on another, making it hard to determine which one is more accurate. Also, some states prohibit attorneys from participating in legal ratings sites due to ethical restrictions.
It’s also important to remember that people going through a divorce are generally unhappy with their situation, and rightfully so. Unfortunately for some, it can difficult to separate a lawyer who did a good job from a situation that makes them unhappy. This too can lead to bad reviews.
7. Find a lawyer who is experienced in family law. – While it is not always essential to hire a lawyer to specializes in divorce, you will want a lawyer with ample experience in family law. This is why the getting a referral is so important. You don’t want to hire your cousin that is a corporate attorney or criminal prosecutor just because he’s willing to do you a favor. Divorce can have significant financial and emotional ramifications if not handles properly, so make sure your lawyer regular takes family law type cases.
One of the most important things to remember when choosing a divorce attorney is to trust yourself. If you follow the steps we have laid out for you first, your own gut will do the rest. You know your situation better than anyone, trust your own instincts when consulting with attorneys, don’t choose someone who makes you uneasy just because you’ve heard a couple of good things about them from others. For more advice from experienced legal practitioners, check our blog regularly.