Searching for a divorce attorney isn’t easy. When you have finally come to the decision that divorce is your next step, you may feel as if you have opened Pandora’s box. Most people do not get divorced more than once in their lifetime, and if you are considering divorce, you are likely unfamiliar with all of the details that go into creating a divorce agreement and moving on with your life. You will need to determine the value of your and your spouse’s assets, formulate a parenting plan if you have children, discuss your financial needs for alimony and child support, and more.
You may be beginning to feel overwhelmed by the number of questions running through your head, and understandably so. Inquiries regarding your family’s life savings and how you wish to parent your children from two separate households are likely not common thoughts that you have been considering since saying “I do.” Fortunately, there is a way to place these concerns into the hands of experts, allowing you to seek guidance and reassurance.
Who you have by your side throughout the legal proceedings of your divorce can set the tone for your future relationship with your spouse and the outline of your life moving forward. Some attorneys may help you maintain an amicable relationship with your divorcing spouse, while others may encourage you to fight for what you want, no matter the cost. Luckily, you have the power to determine your goals during your divorce and find a legal representative who can provide the help you need.
Not every lawyer will be the right fit for you and your family, which is why it is important to take your time during the selection process. If you are in the process of searching for a divorce attorney who fits your needs, avoid making the following mistakes.
8 Mistakes to Avoid when Searching for a Divorce Attorney
1. Waiting Until Things Get Serious
It is highly unlikely that your considerations of divorce came on suddenly. It can take most couples months, if not years, to come to terms with ending their marriage. If you are having inclinations towards divorcing your spouse, you should begin looking into legal representation immediately. This can give you an estimate of how much money you will need to finance your divorce well in advance, and it can allow you to take your time while searching for the right lawyer.
2. Relying on Recommendations
If you have friends who are recently divorced, you may turn to them for advice and legal recommendations. While this can give you a few names to take a look at, you should not rely solely on these friendly suggestions. An attorney who was a good fit for your friend may not be the one for you. Take time to do your own search before settling on the lawyer that will provide the help you need.
3. Google, Google, Google
Your first instinct is likely to type “divorce attorney near me” into your favorite search engine. This is a good idea to get a feel for the options in your area, but may not be your best indicator of skill or reputation. The best way to compare your local attorneys is to utilize attorney directories. Legal directory websites, like Elite Lawyer, provide consumers with a compiled list of the most reputable attorneys in your area, filterable by practice area and location.
4. Not Utilizing Free Consultations
Many attorneys offer free, initial consultations to allow consumers to get to know them before signing on the dotted line. Those who are unfamiliar with the practices of law firms may assume that by having a free consultation, you are giving the impression that you will be hiring that particular attorney. The purpose of these consultations is not to lock you into business with someone, but rather to help you get to know the legal professional without any financial obligations.
5. Coming Unprepared to Your Initial Consultation
Whether the initial consultation is complimentary or not, you should come prepared with a list of questions to ask. Since divorce is an especially sensitive topic, you may get emotional or flustered during your first meeting. Having a list of questions for your attorney can help you focus on your evaluation of his personality, practice, and skills rather than the emotional details of your divorce.
6. Making a Decision Too Quickly
After meeting with your first attorney, you may be compelled to hire them on the spot and quit your personal search. It is important to take the time to consider all of your options and do a personal reflection after each initial meeting. It can be easy to get caught up in the promises of your first attorney without considering your other options.
7. Not Considering Alternative Dispute Resolution
Television and movies have given the false impression that all divorces must be riddled with contentious arguments. In reality, many couples can get through the process without the need for court intervention. If you and your spouse have good communication skills and an amicable relationship, you may consider mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution. This will allow you to create your divorce agreement with your spouse while a third-party mediator helps with the legal details.
8. Failing to Make a Budget
In an average divorce case, each spouse will hire their own lawyer to represent them throughout the proceedings. What they may not realize is that they will likely need to fund their attorney without the help of their spouse or their spouse’s income. Before hiring an attorney, you should create a budget for your life without your spouse’s paycheck. This will allow you to set aside the proper funds for your legal representative and be fully informed on how much you are able to spend on your attorney.
Searching for the proper divorce attorney can be a difficult task, especially when you are trying to emotionally recover from your ending marriage. The mistakes outlined above can occur regardless of the attorney’s practice area. Not knowing where to turn when you are in the middle of a life-altering situation, such as divorce, can leave you feeling helpless.
Attorney search tools have been created to help ease this pressure and allow you to find the lawyer who works best for you. Whether you are at the beginning of your divorce or are struggling to see eye-to-eye with your attorney, there are numerous options available to help find the right attorney and avoid working with the wrong person.
After starting at Elite Lawyer as a writer and editor two years ago, Grace Huguelet began to pursue her editorial career in the digital marketing field. She has since expanded her skills to include social media content production and strategy, SEO writing, and the measuring of social media analytics for marketing purposes. www.elitelawyer.com