Divorce is never an easy thing – it is one of the most stressful things a person can go through. If you find yourself facing divorce, naturally you want things to be as stress-free, fast and affordable as possible.
Finding a divorce lawyer that is right for you and your situation can take a little time, but spending the effort to research the proper person will pay off in the end, making sure that you get the settlement you deserve. After all, while emotions are at play, divorce is a legal process that requires careful planning, preparation and following the letter of the law.
Below are six steps to help you choose the right divorce lawyer for you.
1) Assess the Situation, Objectively
Too many people make the mistake of going into their divorce lawyer’s office and treating it like a psychiatrist’s couch. Yes, your lawyer should be well-versed in your particular situation, and even sympathetic to your needs (they should want to get you that settlement), but don’t forget: the lawyer’s sole job is to assist you in dividing assets, settling custody arrangements, and getting you divorced.
Too many clients choose a lawyer hoping to find a “best friend” who will listen to their endless gripes or petty grievances. This just distracts the lawyer from doing their job.
So if you’ve found a lawyer who doesn’t cater to emotion, instead of paying attention to detail, remaining unbiased and unemotional, and works around the clock to secure your assets, you might have just found the right lawyer for you.
2) Don’t Get Caught Up in the Little Things
Emotions run high during a divorce, and too many people get caught up in the minute of arguing over little odds and ends, trinkets and junk that they really don’t care about – for them, it’s just a way to vent frustrations about the divorce itself.
A divorce lawyer will remind you that these things don’t really matter – the end result is to get divorced, and everything in between just details. Your lawyer should be able to break down your dividing of assets, settlements, etc into what’s truly important (the big things that need to be negotiated) and what things you should just let go.
3) Make a Shortlist
Don’t just go with the first lawyer you meet, even he or she seems perfect. Choosing a divorce lawyer is a big deal, and they’ll be handling delicate, personal information for you and facilitating a huge life moment. It’s a good idea for something of this magnitude, to have a short list of at least three attorneys that you think would be a good fit.
Take the time to meet with these lawyers, lay out your situation, get their thoughts and ideas, and research them independently, finding out word-of-mouth from former clients. Compare their rates, their methods, and locations. Take the time to really decide which one is right for you and your particular situation.
Once you’ve debated the pros and cons of each, you’ll feel much more confident in your choice.
4) Things to Watch For
Just like in any profession, there are “bad guys” in the world of litigation. There are a few things you can watch out for to make sure you don’t hire a bad lawyer.
Use your gut. If your lawyer barely pays attention during your consultation, seems distracted, picking up phone calls or answering emails during your meeting, he or she may be distracted through your proceedings, too. Beware them telling you what you want to hear – promising you the moon or acting as though your case will be a piece of cake when you know the complicated ins and outs. If it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Don’t get taken by a lawyer who just tells you what you want to hear to get a paycheck, but then fails at getting you a fair divorce settlement.
Another red flag is if your lawyer acts unprofessional – if they discuss other clients/cases with you, badmouths other lawyers or your spouse, or generally acts unprofessional, run. While it may be tempting to hire a lawyer who is willing to gossip with you, think about how they might talk about your case down the road. An impartial, respectful lawyer is the way to go.
5) Ask Questions
Some people get overwhelmed in the lawyer’s office, becoming afraid to ask the questions they really want to know. Don’t be afraid to hold your lawyer accountable, and find out everything you need to know about them before hiring them.
Lawyers have heard it all – there’s no question they’ll find offensive or embarrassing. Ask them to explain their rates. Ask them what their “cut” of the settlement is. Ask if they’ve ever dealt with a case like this before. Ask them how many divorce settlements they’ve lost. These details are important to your decision, and you have a right to know them.
6) Make Your Choice
When you’ve done your due diligence, weighed out the pros and cons, and consulted with a few different lawyers, it’s time to make your decision.
Your lawyer should be professional, friendly, available, with a decent rate and a good background of divorce cases with good outcomes. They should have a client list who are satisfied and happy with their work. They should listen to your needs, offer educated, honest advice, and have your very best interests at heart. Above all, they should have your trust.
If your lawyer embodies all of these things, such as the ones at Turner Law Office, then you’ve chosen a good one.
The Final Outcome
If you’ve chosen the right lawyer, they’ll do everything they can to make your divorce seamless, stress-free (as much as can be), and efficient. They will work with you and your former spouse to ensure a fair settlement, custody agreement and division of assets, taking care of all the hard stuff, so you can move on with your life happily.