Every year, around 2% of married straight couples and 1% of married gay couples will divorce. No matter how long you've been together or how complicated your situation might be, it's important to have an experienced divorce lawyer by your side during this process. But it's not always easy to find an attorney who is well-respected, knowledgeable, and a good fit for your needs and preferences. Knowing how to recognize an attorney who is a poor match for your requirements is just as important as knowing how to find a lawyer who will protect your rights and serve your interests. To that end, the tips below should help you avoid hiring the wrong attorney for your divorce proceedings.
Ask For Personal Recommendations
Although a lot of people may be tempted to Google " how to find a lawyer for divorce in my area," the results of an internet search aren't always the best starting point. While virtually everything is available online, that doesn't mean that the best in the field will rise to the top. Asking for personal recommendations will often yield the best results. Ask some professionals you might trust, including therapists, financial advisors, attorneys who practice other areas of law, and friends and family members who have had experience in this realm. They can provide you with valuable information pertaining to a lawyer's approach and overall manner, which can help you to decide whether you might want to have a consultation with them.
Come Prepared With The Right Questions
During an initial consultation with an attorney, that attorney will undoubtedly ask you a lot of questions about the circumstances of your case. But you will also get some time to ask your own questions. These questions can give you a better idea of that attorney's approach and experience. Be sure to ask how long they have been practicing in this area of law, their approach to a given case, how many cases they typically settle, how much their retainer typically is (and whether a portion of it is refundable), how much their regular fees are, who else might work on the case, and more. Of course, their actual answers will help inform you, but the way they answer these questions is important, too. Bring a pen and extra paper to write down their answers and any thoughts you may have during this question and answer session.
Follow Up With Yourself
Right after your consultation with an attorney, take some time to reflect on the meeting and how you feel about this individual. Ask yourself whether you felt comfortable talking openly and honestly with this lawyer. If you felt intimidated by this person or like your concerns weren't being heard, listen to your gut. Your attorney should be legitimately concerned about your case and should not spend a consultation telling you everything you want to hear. Your lawyer should be upfront and realistic about expectations. Even if you feel like something is simply off but can't put your finger on it, you should consider scheduling consultations with other legal representatives. If you decide to meet with other attorneys, make sure to follow this same process so you can compare.
Recognize The Red Flags
Understanding how to find a lawyer for your divorce extends beyond that first meeting. You may not always pick up on bad vibes during an initial consultation, which is why it's important to watch out for red flags afterwards. If your emails and calls go unanswered, your lawyer is definitely too overwhelmed to protect your rights. Missed deadlines, bragging, and an overall bad attitude are also huge indications that you should look for legal representation elsewhere.
Getting a divorce is already a highly emotional process that's full of stress and uncertainty. Part of knowing how to find a lawyer involves assessing whether a given attorney is not only experienced in this area of practice but will be a good fit for your own set of requirements. Ultimately, an in-person consultation is an extremely important step that will allow you to decide whether a given attorney is right for your situation or whether you need to continue on in your search.