Choosing a Family Law and Divorce Attorney

There are several critical things to look for when choosing a divorce or family law attorney. You will probably be best served by selecting someone who is competent, experienced, respected, and affordable. You will want to meet with the most knowledgeable and reputable attorneys before your spouse does, preventing them from hiring an attorney who is a great fit first. If your spouse meets with a specific lawyer first, it might create a conflict of interest that would mean they could not represent you. Attending several consultations with legal counsel can help you better understand the divorce process. Meeting with potential attorneys can also help you get a grasp on what your rights are and help you to manage your needs rather than your wants.

Hiring an Aggressive Attorney

You may think hiring an aggressive lawyer will be the best fit for your situation. Understandably, if you are engaged in a contested divorce, you may want to seek out an attorney who can fight for you aggressively in court. But an excessively litigious lawyer and a competent attorney who is a good fit for you are not to be confused. The divorce process should not be used for revenge or to “stick it” to your soon to be ex-spouse. Divorce proceedings are not best used to punish a partner for their behavior or character flaws. It is a good idea to look past feelings of vengeance to work out an equitable separation or divorce between you and your spouse. There is both a time to negotiate toward a reasonable settlement and a time to dig your heels in and stand your ground.  Overly aggressive lawyers may take the most unfounded positions, even if it means making unreasonable concessions. If a mediator or judge feels that you and your legal counsel are making mountains out of molehills, you could end up being held responsible for more legal fees than just your own.

The Kind of Person Your Divorce Attorney Should Be

You might want to consider what qualities you think your divorce lawyer should possess before making a final choice. Make a list of qualities you want in an attorney. Perhaps he or she will be someone who:

  • Allows you to speak frankly without feeling embarrassed or intimidated 
  • You feel confident in
  • Listens to what you have to say
  • Makes you feel comfortable
  • Answers questions willingly
  • Is upfront about the costs (including the “hidden” ones) associated with your case

These professional characteristics highlight one basic principle: That in every attorney-client relationship, there must be complete disclosure, even of confidential or embarrassing details. If you feel comfortable with the person you choose to be your lawyer, full disclosure will be more comfortable and possible. Nothing good comes from having an under informed or misinformed attorney. 

If the lawyer you choose initially turns out not to be a good fit, though, you can choose another. However, it might damage your case to change attorneys when you are close to a court-ordered deadline, so only do it after considering it carefully.

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