The “best divorce lawyer” is not the same person for everyone. Because people have different needs and personalities, the best divorce lawyer will depend upon who is “best” for you.
There are some basic qualifications that every good divorce lawyer needs. Look for a lawyer who:
- is a Certified Family Law Specialist — one who has met the California State Bar qualifications to become a specialist and has passed the specialization test — or who devotes at least 80% of their practice to family law. The California State Bar website (www.calbar.ca.gov/state/calbar) tracks whether a particular lawyer is a specialist or has ever been disciplined by the State Bar;
- has been practicing family law for a minimum of five years. While they should have ample experience in court with short-cause matters (e.g., hearings for temporary custody, child support, spousal support, etc.) and long-cause trials at the end of the case, ideally, 95% of their cases should settle without going to trial; and
- is willing to give you the names of some satisfied former clients who can attest to their availability, preparation, and court presentation. You should also check out the lawyer’s reputation in the community where he or she practices.
Assuming the lawyer meets these basic standards, you should find the “best divorce lawyer” for you by considering the following:
- Are you more comfortable with a man or a woman?
- Do you want a “shark” or a “settler”?
- Is price a big factor in whom you retain?
- How do you want to get divorced? Litigation involves the court, mediation allows you and your spouse to determine your own resolutions, and Collaborative Divorce employs a team approach to assist both parties.
Adryenn Cantor is a San Diego divorce attorney and was one of California’s first Certified Family Law Specialists. She is also a veteran mediator and practices Collaborative Divorce.