Choosing a Divorce Attorney
Finding the right lawyer could be the key to helping you get through your divorce without adding additional stress to the process. In addition, investing in the right attorney can help you save money in the long run.
You can do several things to find the divorce lawyer who will best fit your needs. First of all, remember that divorce is not your fault. It’s difficult enough to navigate through the emotions you’re feeling right now, so don’t add to your stress by wondering “What if?” That’s why you must choose an attorney with whom you feel comfortable, one who understands your needs and the outcome you would like to achieve.
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Understand What a Divorce Attorney Does
When choosing a divorce attorney, it’s helpful to know what a divorce attorney does so you can set your expectations. A divorce lawyer protects the rights of their client during divorce proceedings. They explain the laws and provide you with legal guidance and options throughout the process, and keep you informed of developments as they arise.
Working through any legal process is complex. However, divorce attorneys can help you navigate the complexities and get through any legal barriers. Lawyers who know how to present divorce cases to a judge can advocate for you and reach the positive outcomes you seek.
Determine the Type of Divorce Process You Need
Before choosing a divorce attorney, find out the type of divorce that is best for you. Your lawyer can always offer additional assistance, but it’s best if you do your research and come prepared with questions during your initial consultation.
This type of divorce occurs when spouses do not agree on one or more issues, such as the division of marital property and child custody. A contested divorce usually takes longer than a non-contested divorce because of the time it takes to negotiate the issues. If you cannot settle, your case will go to court, and a judge will make the final decisions.
In a contested divorce, an attorney with a proven track record of negotiating and litigating can be helpful. If your case goes to trial, you want someone on your side who has handled contested divorces so they can help you achieve the most favorable outcome.
An uncontested divorce occurs when both parties agree on all the issues, including division of assets, child support, and custody. The divorcing parties agree to resolve everything between themselves.
An uncontested divorce is generally the cheapest and fastest way to get divorced in Alabama. If all parties agree to the terms, you can do an uncontested divorce faster than a contested divorce.
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Meet With Several Divorce Attorneys for a Consultation
Many firms that deal with divorce cases offer no-obligation consultations to their potential clients. Setting up consultations with several law firms allows you to choose who best fits your needs.
After meeting with several law firms, you can compare the professionalism and reassurance and comfort each firm offers you. It is essential to notice how all staff members treated you and how long you had to wait to speak with the team. We believe how you do anything is how you do everything, so how you are treated initially is a big hint.
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Consider Your Budget When Choosing a Divorce Attorney
The cost of a lawyer varies from firm to firm.
The following can help you find an attorney within your budget:
- Compare costs at different practices. During the initial consultation, ask about the fee structure and the cost per hour for attorneys and paralegals.
- Ask your attorney about additional fees, so nothing surprises you.
The costs of retaining a lawyer can be worth it in the long run, as they may help you save money in alimony and child support payments.
Get Recommendations for a Divorce Attorney from Friends and Family
Ask your friends, family, coworkers, or other acquaintances if they can recommend a divorce attorney. Personal references are usually reliable because someone you know and trust has used the attorney and had a good experience. If you know other attorneys, ask them. Even if they don’t practice divorce law, they may know attorneys who do.
After getting a referral from a friend or family member, ask questions at the initial consultation. Your friend or family member might prefer a different type of personality in a lawyer than you would. The consultation can give you more information if a lawyer is the right fit for you.
Prepare Questions Before a Consultation with a Firm that Handles Divorce Cases
Before the initial consultation, prepare a list of questions to ask the attorney. This can help you compare law firms and decide which firm best aligns with your goals. Then, after meeting with several law firms and asking the questions you prepared, you could better understand which to choose.
Questions to Ask a Potential Divorce Attorney
Questions you could ask include:
- How long has your firm practiced divorce law?
- What costs can I expect to pay?
- Do your divorce cases usually settle out of court?
- How much experience do you have with cases similar to mine? And what was the outcome?
- Do you have the time necessary to commit to my case?
- How will you keep my information secure?
- How often will we communicate about my case?
- What communication should I have with my spouse about issues we discuss?
- Could you provide references from previous clients?
Choose a Divorce Lawyer Who Makes You Feel Comfortable
While there are many professional factors to consider when choosing a divorce attorney, pick someone who helps put you at ease and feel comfortable throughout the divorce process. In addition, you want someone who will feel like an ally during a stressful time in your life.
A divorce lawyer can work hard for you and exercise sound judgment and prevent you from making decisions based on emotions. Your attorney should guide you through the divorce and always inform you of new developments.
When looking for a lawyer that makes you feel comfortable, find someone who:
- Takes the time to listen to you and doesn’t rush you during meetings
- Answers all your questions thoughtfully and thoroughly
- Takes the time to explain complicated matters and provides several options or solutions
- Communicates well and returns all telephone calls or communications promptly
- Follows the law and ethical standards
A quality attorney will be worth the time it takes you to find them. They can provide the peace of mind you need to move forward with your divorce. Choose an attorney with whom you feel comfortable disclosing personal information, as this is critical for a successful lawyer and client relationship.
A Divorce Attorney Can Handle All Legal Aspects of Your Case
Your divorce attorney should strive to protect you from an unfair divorce and be there for you when you need them.
Once you choose a firm to represent you, your attorney can take care of the legal matters so you can focus on finding your new normal after divorce.
You can expect a legal team to:
- Represent you during all hearings and mediation meetings
- Prepare you for hearings and appointments
- Aggressively advocate for you during all proceedings
- Negotiate child custody, alimony, and/or child support payments on your behalf
- Guide you during the asset division process
The firm may offer a full-service family law package. That is, they could help if you need representation during a military divorce, divorce for professionals, uncontested divorce, alimony negotiations, and child custody negotiations.
A Divorce Lawyer Can Negotiate Child Custody and Child Support Agreements
If you have children, you must develop appropriate child custody and support agreements. These agreements dictate who gets custody of the children and whether you or your spouse will pay child support. Court rulings involving children will always prioritize the best interests of the child.
Child support is the financial support one parent pays to the other. It typically covers the child’s needs such as their schooling, food, healthcare, and housing. Child custody involves where the child will live and who will make decisions such as their schooling, medical, and religious upbringing. These agreements also include visitation rights.
The law firm you choose to represent you can:
- Advocate for your children
- Negotiate custody arrangements
- Negotiate child support agreements
- File enforcement petitions if you are not receiving child support payments
- Renegotiate child support and custody agreements
Things to Know About Alabama Divorces
Before going through a divorce in Alabama, it is helpful to familiarize yourself with the state’s divorce laws. To file for divorce in Alabama, you must provide information and follow the required waiting periods for your divorce to be finalized.
Grounds for Divorce
When you file for divorce, you must include the grounds for why you are divorcing. Alabama law provides potential grounds for divorce.
- If either party was incapacitated when they entered into the marriage
- If either party committed adultery
- Voluntary abandonment for one year preceding the complaint
- Imprisonment of one or both parties for two years, and the sentence is over seven years
- One or both parties committed a crime against nature, either man or beast. This could have happened before or during the marriage
- Habitual drunkenness or using opiates, cocaine, morphine, or other drugs
- If the two parties can no longer live together because of incompatibility
- If either party is committed to a mental hospital for five successive years
- If the court finds an irretrievable breakdown and determines that attempting reconciliation is not in the best interests of the parties involved or their family
- If one or both parties commit violence against the other to inflict harm
If your reason for seeking divorce is not on this list, an attorney can help you determine the grounds for your divorce.
30-Day Waiting Period
Once you or your spouse file the divorce complaint, Alabama law states there must be a 30-day waiting period before the judge can finalize the divorce. Waiting periods give spouses time to reflect before continuing with a divorce. This gives you and your spouse time to step back and decide if this is what you want.
The judge can sign your divorce agreement if you decide to proceed with the divorce after the 30-day waiting period. The amount of negotiating required can determine the length of your divorce.
During the waiting period, our attorneys can guide you through the process of dividing assets, so we are prepared to proceed when the 30 days are over.
Restrictions on Remarriage
After a judge finalizes the divorce, Alabama restricts each party from remarrying for 60 days. The only exception is if they remarry the spouse they divorced. If one or both parties remarries within the 60-day restriction period, their new marriage is considered void. However, if they get married in another state, their marriage is valid.
Request a No-Obligation Consultation With a Firm That Manages Divorce Cases
If you are in the process of choosing a divorce lawyer, ask for a no-obligation consultation. A representative can explain the divorce process and how their attorneys can guide you through the process. You should leave the consultation feeling that they answered your questions and provided your legal options.
Attorneys should know the ins and outs of Alabama divorce laws and provide empathetic and trustworthy legal representation during the entirety of your divorce proceedings. If you want more information on how to choose a divorce attorney, consider contacting a firm today.