Yes, you can change attorneys whenever you’d like throughout divorce proceedings. However, attorneys should work for you. After all, you’re paying them for a service. Therefore, if you feel that their services aren’t up to par, you can discuss this with them and go from there.
However, never ignore the context of your case when making this decision. For example, getting a new lawyer might prove difficult if you face an impending divorce trial. To avoid this challenging situation, hire the right lawyer the first time around. Then, you won’t need to deal with bringing a new lawyer up to speed halfway through your case.
To hire the right divorce lawyer, you’ll need to do your research. First, find some available lawyers in your area and vet these firms. Then, ask questions. A good lawyer can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.
How Do I Start Looking for Divorce Attorneys Once a Divorce Is Underway?
Many good searches start with Google. With a search engine, you can review potential options near you. A lawyer’s web page can also tell you a good deal about a law firm’s story.
You can also use these methods to refine your search:
Maybe you know someone who sought legal help for a divorce or another family law matter. If so, ask if they felt satisfied with the lawyer. Remember, even if your friend liked their lawyer, you might need a different opinion. Always cross-reference these referrals with client reviews and by calling the law firm to learn more.
Pay Attention to Red Flags
Good law firms adhere to a strict code of conduct. Breaches in this conduct can indicate a lack of professionalism.
These red flags can suggest that you avoid a law firm:
- Numerous bad reviews. If a firm consistently receives negative client feedback about communications, case results, or other poor performance, move on to other options.
- The firm doesn’t respect confidentiality. For instance, a lawyer shouldn’t provide personal details of clients they’ve represented without those clients’ permission.
- They’re too busy to take you on. Pay close attention to the lawyer’s interview process. If they don’t seem to have time for you, you may want to look elsewhere.
- They make too many promises. Divorces usually involve some challenges and compromises. If a lawyer seems overly optimistic about your case, they might struggle to find new clients.
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What Questions Should I Ask a Divorce Attorney?
Once you narrow down your options, you can refine your search by asking candidates some questions, such as:
- What do you charge? Some lawyers charge more than others. A lawyer can’t always tell you exactly how much your divorce will cost, though. However, they should estimate the costs associated with each step. Similarly, stay cautious of lawyers that work on a fixed payment plan. Divorces evolve constantly, and fixed payment plans don’t consider this evolution.
- How do you communicate and how quickly do you respond to clients? Divorces can prove complex. They involve many moving parts and a range of complex legal terms. When you’re stuck or confused, you’ll need prompt responses to your questions from your lawyer. Ask them how they plan to communicate with you and keep you updated.
- How do you feel about mediation, trials, and other forms of negotiation? Don’t consider a lawyer unfamiliar with or unwilling to employ one of the many approaches that divorce necessitates. They should have the skills required to use any avenue necessary.
- Can you quickly explain legal terminology? If they can’t, you should move on. You don’t want a lawyer that isn’t intimately familiar with divorce law.
- Have you worked in family law before? You may want to give a fresh lawyer a chance—particularly if you like their personality. However, in this case, you’ll want someone with a proven track record. Vet their familiarity with family law and ask them about previous outcomes.
- Do you have a strategy? If they don’t have one or lack a plan that makes sense to you, it’s time to seek a new lawyer. Divorces constantly change, meaning you need to adjust your strategy as you go. Still, your lawyer should show signs of preparation. If they’ve worked on previous divorces, they’ll know what works and what doesn’t.
- Will you send me copies of my divorce documentation? One of the benefits of hiring a lawyer is that they’ll manage your clerical duties, gathering and filing documentation on your behalf. Don’t work with an unorganized lawyer. Don’t work with them if they can’t provide you with copies of certain documents for review.
You could ask several more possible questions when learning about a law firm. For instance, you can also ask a law firm whatever you’d like about its process.
After speaking with the firm, you should clearly understand its expertise, so you know what to expect moving forward.
How Do I Know if I Found the Right Lawyer?
A few key factors can tell you if you hired the right lawyer. They include:
You and the Lawyer Get Along
We know we’ve already advised against choosing a lawyer on personality alone, but you should get along with your lawyer. Do they make you feel comfortable? Do they seem to care about you? You don’t need to deal with a law firm that feels cold and calculated.
On the other hand, some experienced lawyers offer the best of both worlds; they treat you with kindness and get you results.
The Lawyer Has Experience
During your initial evaluation and soon after, this law firm demonstrated that it:
- Has experience working in family law
- Can handle mediation, negotiation, or trial
- Has prompt answers to all your legal questions
- Has a plan for your divorce
Finding a lawyer that checks all these boxes can take time and research. Family law is a specific legal area, and some law firms may not have all the required skills you need. When you’ve found the right firm, don’t let it go. Share that you’d eventually like to hire its team.
The Law Firm Communicates Promptly and Proactively
During a divorce, you can expect to communicate regularly with your chosen law firm. Some firms allow direct communication with your lawyer, while you may work with a case manager in other situations. If you feel confident about the firm’s approach to communication, you made a good choice.
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How Much Do Divorce Attorneys Cost?
When seeking a lawyer, you need to know the estimated cost of their services. Lawyers who worked on many divorces in the past should quickly assess the potential cost of your case. However, if they fail to do so, they may not have sufficient experience.
Similarly, avoid law firms that don’t offer no-obligation case evaluations. An initial case evaluation should allow you to learn about the law firm and the potential costs of your case, not lock you into working with a law firm you only met.
These factors can increase the cost of a lawyer:
- The duration of your case. The longer the case goes on, the more a lawyer could likely charge for their services.
- If your case involves a trial. Trials increase the time your lawyer needs to work on the case.
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How Can I Reduce the Costs of My Divorce?
Unfortunately, the factors that increase divorce costs are not always within your control. As noted earlier, cases that run longer and involve trials typically cost more than those that don’t. However, working constructively together with your spouse can expedite the divorce process.
Pursuing an Uncontested Divorce
In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree on the terms of separation, including:
- Child custody: Agreeing on child custody often proves difficult. You both likely want to spend as much time with your child or children as possible. However, it might make more sense for one parent to maintain sole physical custody. Even sole custody arrangements can allow visitation.
- Alimony: Alimony refers to need-based financial support paid from one partner to the other. Typically, the higher-earning partner must pay alimony. These payments often prove temporary, though. The court can also modify alimony after your divorce.
- The division of assets: Dividing up your property can also bring disagreement. For instance, you may not want to lose your house in a divorce. A divorce attorney can advise you on this process. They’ll work toward a speedy and fair outcome.
Spouses don’t always agree on the terms of their divorce. However, if you’d like to avoid a lengthy divorce process, it’s best to work with your partner whenever possible. Delegating to a divorce lawyer can simplify this process, too. If they have experience, they could protect your interests while keeping your divorce’s timeline and costs to a minimum.
Contested divorces can prove less ideal compared to uncontested divorces. They may involve continued disagreements that sideline progress. These divorces sometimes end in trials.
To settle a contentious subject, you can:
- Rely on your lawyer: Your lawyer can handle negotiations on your behalf. Once they know the important aspects of your case, they can engage with your partner’s legal team.
- Speak with your partner: Divorces, unlike other types of legal proceedings, allow you to speak with the rival party. This perk offers a simple solution to your disagreements: you can talk with your partner about them. You may avoid trial by communicating effectively.
- Rely on mediation: Mediation provides a space for you and your partner to discuss your disagreements. During this process, a third-party mediator will facilitate a conversation between you and your partner. These mediators do not have a judge’s authority, though, so they can’t make a ruling on your case.
- Trial: Trial, while costly, can sometimes prove necessary. Seeking a law firm with previous trial advocacy experience can later prove crucial.
What Do Divorce Lawyers Do?
Divorces involve complicated forms of legal action. It’s easy to make costly mistakes.
For instance, Alabama is an “equitable division” state, which means that if you and your partner can’t agree on the separation of your assets, the court will make these decisions for you. A lawyer can protect you against this outcome and fight for your best interests.
Filing Divorce-Related Paperwork
To file for divorce, you need to submit a divorce complaint.
This document requires the following pieces of information:
- Your age
- Your partners
- The names and ages of your children
- The date of your separation, if applicable
- The reason for filing a divorce
- Other relevant information
A divorce lawyer could prepare your case. Some divorces involve a mountain of documentation, but an attorney can help you with that. Once they have your relevant documentation, they can serve your complaint to your spouse.
Represent You and Manage Negotiations
Divorces generally boil down to negotiations. Whether it’s through mediation or trial, these negotiations will likely determine the outcome of your case.
A divorce lawyer can:
- Push for the best agreement possible
- Manage all negotiations
- Assist you with documentation
- Advocate for a fair process
Divorces don’t just involve legal proceedings and mediation meetings. They also involve arguably trickier stuff, like caring for your children or finding a new place to live. These challenges deserve your attention.
A divorce lawyer can do more than just represent you and your legal interests. They can give you your time back. While they handle your case, you can spend your energy where it counts. Starting a new life can prove stressful and takes time. You don’t need to waste your precious hours agonizing over the specifics of alimony or child support—that’s what lawyers are for.
If you want to change attorneys once divorce proceedings are underway, you can start your search today. Seek a no-obligation case evaluation to learn more about how another law firm can help you. Contact The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates for a free consultation today.