What to Look For When Hiring Divorce Lawyers

Finding a divorce lawyer is easy. However, finding a competent divorce lawyer who will protect the client's interests for a reasonable fee is a far more difficult prospect. When seeking a competent attorney in a divorce, there are several important factors to consider.

Recommendations

The best divorce attorneys are usually found by word of mouth. If the attorney is recommended by his or her own clients and former clients, it is probably a good bet that the attorney will provide competent representation for other clients as well.

Complexity

The complexity of a case should impact which attorney is chosen. If the case involves a brief marriage, no children, and little or no property to divide, the case should be straightforward. Chances are good that these types of cases will not require the highly specialized attorneys that argue complex custody issues or divide billion-dollar estates. Paying a fortune for that specialized knowledge will leave the client with a hefty bill for work that most attorneys could do for less money. However, cases that do involve complex legal issues often require the most skilled divorce attorney that the client can afford.

Knowledge

Potential divorce clients should consult with at least two attorneys before signing a contract. The client should ask questions about how the law applies to his or her case case. If the client asks the attorney questions about a nuanced legal issue, it is okay if the attorney needs to do research before giving a response. It shows that the attorney is concerned about giving the correct answer. However, if the attorney cannot answer basic questions about how courts divide property or calculate child support, the potential client should probably look for someone else.

Fee Agreement

Fee agreements vary depending on whether the case is contested, the average rate charged by attorneys in the area, the level of complexity of the case, and a variety of other factors. For simple divorces, the attorney may charge a flat fee up front. However, it is not unusual for attorneys to charge a retainer fee and bill an hourly rate for time spent working on the case. Before a client signs a contract, he or she should have a complete understanding of what it means and be able to pay any future fees that may arise. In most states, attorneys in civil matters are not required to continue representing a client if the client stops paying the fee. If the client runs out of money three months before trial, he or she may be left without no attorney and no funds left to hire a new one.

Comfort level

Clients in divorce cases are often required to disclose private information to their attorney. It is important that the client feels comfortable being open and honest with whatever lawyer he or she chooses—even where the truth is unflattering or embarrassing. If the client feels uncomfortable disclosing private information to the attorney, the attorney may not be a good fit.

Top 5 Routes for “What to Look For When Hiring a Divorce Lawyer”

  1. AAML - The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers is an organization dedicated to providing continuing education and training regarding specialized legal issues involving divorce and custody. Clients with a need for a specialized attorney should check their list of members. The members of this organization must be highly trained in family law and pass a written exam to be allowed to join.
  2. ABA - The American Bar Association has valuable resources for attorneys and clients alike about choosing an attorney. For more information, visit their website.
  3. Nolo - This article provides additional insight about how to choose an attorney.
  4. Investopedia - This article provides factors to consider when hiring an attorney.
  5. Hire a Lawyer - This website is filled with information about retaining an attorney.

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