If you are facing divorce and find yourself in need of a divorce attorney, it’s important to find one that will be the right fit for you and your situation.
Putting in some time and effort upfront will give you the best opportunity to find a divorce attorney that not only wins the best outcome for you but also is easy to work with.
Find Your Ideal Divorce Attorney
Identify Your Priorities & Goals
Just like no two divorces are the same, divorce attorneys are not all the same. Understanding the different aspects of your divorce and prioritizing them will help you determine the best type of divorce attorney for your situation. For example, the military and civilian divorce processes are different. A military divorce has very specific residency rules that affect the distribution of assets, among other differences. You will want a lawyer who is familiar with the law regarding military divorce. To help you determine your priorities, here are some possible specializations that you may want to consider:
- Military Divorce
- Child Custody
- Child Support (receiving or paying)
- Alimony (receiving or paying)
- High Asset Divorce
Whatever your goals are for the outcome of your divorce, you will want to choose a divorce attorney who can help you reach them. The The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates excels in all five of these specialties and wants to help you win.
If you are in search of a highly qualified ideal divorce attorney, contact The The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates today to schedule a consultation.
Gather Referrals For Divorce Attorneys
You will want to look for referrals in a variety of places. You can start by asking friends or relatives who you know had a good experience with their divorce attorney. However, be cautious when asking for other types of advice – you will want to consult with your chosen attorney before making any major decisions, even small ones.
“You may have friends or relatives who have gone through a divorce. They are a good source of information about lawyers, with two qualifications. Every client and every case is different, so it is difficult to evaluate the performance of a lawyer in someone else’s case. Also, the lawyer-client relationship is highly personal. So while the impressions of a former client about a lawyer are useful, you should meet the lawyer and make your own judgment,” states the American Academy for Matrimonial Lawyers.
The Internet can be a good resource to find divorce attorneys in your area, but avoid sites that claim to match you with an attorney. Instead, find listings of local law firms and visit their websites or call their offices directly. Having direct personal contact with divorce attorneys that you found on your own can help you avoid wasting time and money sifting through impersonal, irrelevant options.
Preparation is key. Know ahead of time what to look for and what questions to ask. The American Bar Association offers these questions to ask yourself when interviewing potential divorce attorneys:
- Does This Lawyer Listen to Me, Or Does He Or She Just Talk and Lecture?
- Is This a Lawyer Who Primarily Handles Divorce Cases?
- Is This Attorney Someone With Whom I Feel Comfortable?
- Can I Afford This Attorney’s Services?
- Here are some other resources to help figure out what to look for:
- How Do You Know When You Have The Right Divorce Lawyer
- Not Just Another Case – Choose a Family Lawyer Who Cares
- Recruit the Right Family Law Attorney for Your Team
Schedule A Consultation With More Than One Divorce Attorney
Once you have narrowed down the list of potential ideal divorce attorneys, choose at least two that you feel might be a good fit and schedule a consultation. Meeting with the divorce attorney in person will give you a feel for what it would be like to work with him or her, and give you more insight into your legal rights and responsibilities. Be sure to take paper and a pen to take notes, a summary of your marital history and priorities, and your list of questions.
Choose The Attorney Who Fits Your Needs
Once you have completed the first four steps, it’s time to choose your ideal divorce attorney. Contact your chosen attorney and they will advise you of the next steps to take in the divorce process.
Check For Red Flags
Unfortunately, most divorce attorneys don’t come as advertised. Expect to hear exactly what you want from most attorneys as they focus on closing the deal. Most attorneys won’t invest much in clients unless they see a need to. There are ZERO guarantees that the promises will be fulfilled. Most importantly, beware of attorneys that offer too many promises without assessing the facts of the case.
Another notable red flag revolves around the divulgence of confidential information. An attorney isn’t supposed to discuss confidential details about their clients with you. If they disregard client confidentiality, you can expect them to discuss you as well with other clients. This red flag can be picked up during the interview process.
Also, avoid divorce attorneys that seem to be extremely busy. If your interview keeps being interrupted by calls, emails, other clients, etc., don’t expect the lawyer to focus on your case wholeheartedly. Given the nature of divorce cases, select an attorney who shows undivided focus from the onset.
Other red flags to consider include overwhelmingly bad reviews. While lawyers make mistakes like anyone else, they should have more positive than negative reviews. If most past clients aren’t happy with them, your chances of being disappointed are higher.
Assess the Cost
Before you decide on the divorce attorney you want, the price has to be favorable. While the cost of a divorce attorney varies widely based on many factors, you can expect to pay $7,000 to $30,000 or an hourly rate of approximately $270 as per recent national research figures.
The cost rises sharply depending on the length of the divorce. Some lawyers also request a retainer which adds to the cost. Most retainer fees range from $2,000 – $5,000. It’s important to assess the costing structure of your preferred attorneys first before committing to them. You can expect an hourly charge as opposed to flat fees. The hourly fees are usually charged in 6 -15-minute increments.
Avoid attorneys that charge you right away. The best divorce attorneys have a free initial consultation. Take advantage of such consultations and ask as many questions as you wish, including the estimated charges, billing practices, and other important questions. If an attorney has years of experience handling divorce cases, they should give you an accurate cost estimate with no problem and answer all questions you have. Generally, you should expect to be billed for document review, communication with your spouse’s lawyer, settlement negotiations, and other communication like calls and emails.
Important: There are clever ways of reducing cost so, don’t worry if your preferred attorney seems to charge more than you budgeted for. As mentioned above, lawyer fees increase drastically as the duration increases. Also, disputes that reach trial tend to increase billable hours drastically. Research shows that cost increases approximately 70% when a divorce case goes to trial. When assessing cost, ensure you choose a divorce attorney with unmatched experience settling matters out of court.
What’s more, charges based on tasks are better where the most important tasks are handled by your lawyer while paralegals can handle the rest. Such billing arrangements can reduce the cost drastically.
You could also request a fixed fee if your divorce isn’t complex. However, this option can only be granted by a seasoned attorney who can estimate costs quickly and with ease.
Does the Lawyer Offer FREE Non-Obligatory Consultations?
Most seasoned divorce lawyers will offer the first initial consultation for free. Avoid divorce lawyers who aren’t willing to sit with you or answer some questions for free. Most importantly, they shouldn’t pressure you to work with them when you accept the free consultation. Free initial consultations are used as a form of marketing. They also offer a chance for a case assessment.
For clients, it’s a great opportunity to find the ideal divorce attorney. Use the initial consultation to assess your options. It’s worth noting that lawyers may withhold some information. The focus is to outline a case and receive advice on the ideal approach, terms of the case, financial settlements, and more.
The consultation should be used to assess the lawyer’s experience with similar cases, their support network/resources like mediators, therapists, parenting coaches, average cost, and more. Most lawyers will have a time limit to an initial consultation i.e., 15 minutes. Prepare beforehand and ensure you ask every question imaginable. If you are wondering what you should ask a divorce attorney, check the questions and potential answers below.
Ask the Hard Questions
Before you settle on an ideal lawyer, ask if they specialize in your area of interest. It’s important to estimate the time they’ve been practicing and what is the average cost of their services. Also, enquire about their approach. As mentioned above, focus on out-of-court approaches if you want to keep costs low. However, your preferred lawyer should never be afraid of trial.
The last step is making your choice. After checking for red flags, assessing the cost, asking the hard questions, etc., you should have a list of potential divorce attorneys to work with. There are other factors you can consider in the process. For instance, a local divorce attorney will be better if you need face-to-face meetings. Your preferred lawyer should also be a good communicator who responds punctually.
Your instinct should also guide you. For instance, consider your comfort levels. Do you feel comfortable with a certain lawyer? Do they inspire trust? Does the lawyer seem to agree with your ideal outcome of the case? What style has he/she proposed, and do you agree with it? The cost should also be reasonable.
The importance of selecting the best divorce attorney you can find can’t be overlooked. The consequences of this decision are dire. For instance, he/she may determine if you win custody or see your children as much as you want. The lawyer you select can also dictate your financial future i.e., what you get as a settlement. Luckily, we’ve highlighted all there is to ensure you select the best divorce attorney.
If you are looking for a divorce attorney in northern Alabama, The The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates is here for you. Our skilled legal team will provide personalized attention, superior customer service, and aggressive advocacy on your behalf. Contact us today!