Once you get to the point that you need to hire a divorce attorney, it’s an unfortunate necessity frequently preceded by months or years of frustration, angst and tension. It’s therefore important to find a lawyer that both understands the emotional turmoil involved in the process and is also prepared to provide a vigorous legal defense or strategy for a marriage dissolution.
Picking legal representation for a divorce is not a simple matter of flipping through the yellow pages. However, that’s exactly what people do in a panic far too often. They then get stuck with legal representation that may not have been the best match for their case needs.
Instead, a person needs to take a bit of time and research the attorneys available through a number of tools. Despite how emotional a situation may be, the actual process for a divorce to be approved and finalized takes years. So, unless a person needs a temporary restraining order, a dissolution is not going to happen overnight.
Good attorney selection tools include:
- Referrals – People who have gone through a divorce will have worked with certain attorneys already, whether as their representation or as the opposing party’s counsel. If a friend or contact is willing to talk about it, the details that can be gained on those attorneys can be valuable regarding their performance in the case. When an attorney is successful and personable, former clients are also willing to recommend that lawyer.
- Local Bar Contacts – Every city area has a local attorney bar association or office where all the attorneys have to register as part of their licensing. Additionally, a state bar exists in every state as well. Both offices can give insight as to which attorneys have had discipline or poor service problems versus adequate divorce attorneys in an area with a clean record.
- Research in Media – Online reviews and legal periodicals showcase attorneys who have gained a reputation for being good at their work. This can also highlight leads on which attorneys to look into for divorce representation.
Keep in mind as well that attorneys in divorce proceedings charge for their services outright. Unlike an accident or negligence case, where the attorney charges a percentage of the award if won, divorce attorneys charge up front. Legal representation can quickly become expensive. So a client’s budget will also dictate which attorneys he or she can afford. That may mean not being able to hire that attorney in a magazine or referral because he may be too expensive per hour or on retainer.
Every client needs to be involved in his or her case. A person in a divorce can’t just assume the case can be handed to a divorce attorney and then everything goes on auto-drive until there is a court decision somewhere in the future. Clients who actively engage with their attorneys have a better understanding of the process as well as what to expect. This ongoing connection frequently avoids confusion, misunderstandings and frustration with the results at the end of the case.
Remember, no matter how good a divorce attorney may be, going to a divorce court trial is ultimately a 50/50 scenario, and the court can decide to spin a decision how it wants to irrespective of the attorneys’ arguments. Quite often, both parties in a marriage dissolution can be upset with the final legal results. A good attorney will work hard to defend a client’s rights in a divorce for the best outcome, but sometimes a settlement and avoiding a trial can be the best choice overall.