Your lawyer should be intelligent, adaptable, and savvy—and a strong negotiator. Your lawyer should be open-minded, direct, ethical, and compassionate, and should support you while taking into account your entire family’s needs and be candid about what you can expect.
Your lawyer should also be willing to help you swiftly dissolve your marriage outside the courtroom. Perhaps most important, be certain that this person has a sense of humor. How will you find such a lawyer?
Talk to people who’ve been divorced, inquire about their experience, and ask for recommendations. You could also consult with your local bar association about attorneys in your area who specialize in divorce. When you ask why they are recommending a specific person, listen for descriptions such as direct, personable, likable, smart, savvy, fair, diligent, honest, compassionate, patient, or a good listener.
Then check their reputation. Most divorce lawyers, especially those who have been around for a while, end up recognized for a certain style. And a note of caution: While you do want a lawyer who can be tough, beware of the aggressive, take-no-prisoners bulldog who can potentially cause your family unanticipated damage. For some divorce lawyers, the primary goal is the win. Your well-chosen lawyer will seek an efficient resolution for your whole family.
Conduct A Preliminary Interview
Some lawyers will give you ten to fifteen minutes of free or reduced-rate phone time to answer some preliminary questions and to assess their working style. Remember, you’re hiring, this is your divorce, and this person is going to help you design your future. During that quick conversation you can accomplish a few simple goals, listed here. If you’re willing to consider them to represent you, I’ll give you more specific questions to ask in the next section.
Make Sure They Specialize In Divorce Law
Remember, just because someone is at a big firm doesn’t mean they’re skilled in family law. Corporate lawyers may be brilliant, but they likely don’t understand how to finesse a family law case. Those who engage specifically in family practice have experience and skill. Criminal lawyers are typically more inclined to go for the win.
A real estate attorney may see your divorce as primarily transactional. Any of these practitioners might do a fine job, but your money and time are best spent on someone whose daily practice focuses on family law.
Verify Your Compatibility
Ask how quickly you can expect return calls or emails. Your lawyer should be available to you and open to your needs; he or she should buy into your goal to resolve quickly. Which leads to our next point to touch on during your first talk.
Ensure Their Openness To Mediation Or To Work Collaboratively
This one is exceedingly important, so be specific and crystal clear. The attorney you select must be open-minded about mediation or collaborative lawyering—period. Some lawyers want to keep their clients on the traditional litigation track, and many see agreeability as counterproductive to proper representation. Mediation typically means the lawyer will earn less from you, so be sure you’re clear as you begin.
Confirm Their Interest In Supporting Your Family’s Well-Being During The Divorce
At the start, clearly state outright your own version of what you’re seeking. “I’m not interested in going to battle with my spouse. I want to be respectful, patient, peaceable, and make decisions and suggestions with clarity. And while I’m not there yet, my aim is full forgiveness.” Notice their response and see if it resonates with your goals.