A divorce is a pretty emotional event for most people -- so you may not be thinking entirely clearly when you start your search for a divorce attorney. That can be a big mistake.
Choosing the right lawyer is probably the most important thing you can do when you're about to go through a divorce. Your attorney is the person who will set the tone for the proceedings, guide you through the darkest moments ahead, and protect your legal rights.
Don't choose your divorce attorney at random. Instead, make an appointment and try to ask the following questions face-to-face with any potential candidates.
1. Does your practice focus solely on family law?
While there are plenty of attorneys out there that handle a wide variety of legal issues, all but the simplest divorces should be handled by someone who is dedicated to family law. Otherwise, the attorney may not have the vast experience you need to handle more complex issues.
2. Who will be working with you on my case?
It's important to know who you can rely on when you are going through something that's emotionally and financially upsetting. Some attorneys work with a number of junior attorneys, paralegals, and secretaries. You may prefer to work with a large office that always has someone available to answer your questions or you may prefer to work with an attorney in a one-person office.
3. What type of costs can I expect throughout this process?
A lot of people are hesitant to ask attorneys about their fees, but that's actually very important to know in advance. You will likely be asked to put down a retainer and will then be billed regularly once the money in the retainer runs out. After discussing the specifics of your case, the attorney should be able to tell you whether you will have to pay for things like a forensic accountant, business or property evaluations, private investigators, and financial advisers.
4. What do you think about these issues that are important to me?
Every person heading into a divorce has certain goals. Maybe you want full physical custody of the kids because you believe your spouse is unfit to care for them. Maybe you want the house in the divorce or spousal support for an extended period of time. Whatever your concerns, an experienced attorney can usually tell you what obstacles you are likely to face in court and what kind of strategies can overcome them.
Ultimately, these questions -- and the answers you receive -- can help you determine if you feel comfortable with this particular divorce lawyer representing your interests.