Finding the right Orlando divorce attorney for you and your situation is crucial. This guide can help you get started in the right direction.
1. Ask People who you know have been through a Divorce. There is no substitute for a referral from someone you know. Make sure you talk to people who have been through a divorce. Ask them about their experience with their attorney. I often hear stories about people who really liked their attorney. Usually these people feel that their attorney listened to them, provided a comprehensive game plan or strategy to resolve the issues in court, or were otherwise able to obtain a Marital Settlement Agreement and avoid court altogether. People who are well represented usually feel their attorney is responsive to their questions. They point out the attorney brought things to their attention that they never even considered.
2. Use Google. Read the reviews. Don’t just look at the stars. Google ratings and reviews are invaluable. Most people who take the time to write reviews feel strongly about their representation. Be cautious of attorneys who have ratings that are high in number but low in content, and those who have no negative reviews.
3. Seek an attorney who practices family law exclusively. Many attorneys say they practice family law, but are they “practicing” on you or your case? Does the attorney have the requisite experience in the practice of family law to fully understand and navigate the family law landscape, and are they fully versed in the many statutory changes impacting family law over the past couple of decades? Legal experience and number of years in practice are of critical importance in finding a good family law practitioner. Consider finding an attorney that is exclusively or mostly devoted to practicing family. Family law is an extremely broad body of law that requires years to properly master. Attempting to practice family law and, for example, criminal law on seemingly related matters presents that practitioner with scheduling hurdles and conflicts that may not allow them to devote the time necessary to your divorce case when it is most needed. In your initial interview with an attorney ask them whether they practice family law exclusively and how many years they have practiced.
4. Interview several attorneys and decide who is the right fit for you and your unique set of circumstances. During your initial consult, the attorney should explain how the Divorce process works, ascertain the issues involved in your case, and discuss the substantive law which applies to your specific issues. If the issues presented are novel, or the attorney is aware that changes to the substantive law have recently emerged, the attorney may advise you that they need to conduct research to provide you the most up to date advice. After consulting at least 2 – 3 attorneys reflect on those interviews/meetings and consider who truly listened to your concerns and addressed them fully and to your satisfaction. The initial interview should help you answer questions and provide a sense of trust and ease. Although going through a divorce is possibly one of the most challenging and heartbreaking things a person will experience, trust your intuition. If you are feeling especially vulnerable or emotional, bring someone you completely trust to attend the initial consult with you. Ask yourself if the attorney truly listened to and answered your questions clearly and fully. If the attorney is simply speaking to hear themselves talk but has not answered your questions or provided you with an honest assessment of the issues in your case, run! You should leave that initial consult feeling confident that the attorney you are about to hire to represent your interests will be your trusted voice and advocate. The attorney is not there to necessarily tell you what you want to hear, rather they should educate you on the substantive laws and how they apply to your specific set of circumstances to reach your stated goals. You will spend a great deal of time with your attorney. Make sure they are someone you are comfortable with.
5. Hire an attorney who is also an experienced negotiator. The best divorce is one that never sees the inside of a courtroom. Find an attorney who is trained as a Mediator and/or Collaborative Family Law professional. Attorneys who are trained in Alternate Dispute Resolution methods will generally excel in de-escalating conflict and resolving difficult issues in an emotionally charged setting. This will save you time, heartache, money and minimize the impact of the divorce on your children. These attorneys are more likely to be problem solvers rather than problem creators.
6. Hire an attorney who is customer service oriented. There is absolutely NO excuse for not returning a client’s call or responding to an email within 24 hours. We strive to answer immediately; however, when that is not possible, we pledge to answer our clients within the same business day or sooner whenever possible. Your questions and concerns are important to you and should be as important to your attorney.
7. Hire an attorney you can afford. An attorney should be up front with you and tell you their hourly rate and required retainer. Ask them about their fee structure and expectation of costs relative to the complexity and demands in your case after you present the facts and circumstances in your case.
8. Do you really want an “aggressive” attorney? If you have children, you will always have ties to your spouse and will need to be able to communicate regarding your children after the litigation is over. Look for an attorney who is focused on protecting your rights and minimizing conflict, not maximizing the litigation. Avoid fear-mongers. Your attorney should help relieve your fears and solve your problems, not add to them.