Selecting a divorce attorney is a critical decision making process here in the Air Force Academy area. The person who you hire will be responsible for obtaining or maintaining your custody rights to your children, your property interests, and depending upon the side you are one, either minimizing or maximizing your support rights.
In reality, selecting a divorce attorney is also an incredibly stressful experience. Do it right and you can breath easy. Do it wrong and you will spend years making up for losses that might have been prevented. Do not fear though, we are here to help you in finding your family law lawyer!
5 Tips to Help You Find a Divorce Attorney
Selecting a divorce attorney is a critical decision making process. The person who you hire will be responsible for obtaining or maintaining your custody rights to your children, your property interests, and depending upon the side you are one, either minimizing or maximizing your support rights.
In reality, selecting a divorce attorney is also an incredibly stressful experience. Do it right and you can breath easy. Do it wrong and you will spend years making up for losses that might have been prevented.
There are a few tried and true tactics that you should be using when you select a divorce attorney. Before you even begin, you need to identify the type of case that you will be involved in. Will you be mediating your divorce? Will you be negotiating? Or, will your case be one of those cases that goes to court and becomes a knock down, drag out divorce litigation?
There are divorce attorneys who specialize in these different types of cases and you need to hire the type of divorce attorney who is best suited to the type of case that you have. If you need to deal with a knock down, drag out litigation, you do not want a mediation attorney trying to protect your interests. Likewise, if you are going through mediation, the last thing you want is a divorce attorney who will try to create issues and move you towards litigation.
So, step one in the process of selecting a divorce attorney is to identify the type of case that you have. Next, start asking people for help. Since the divorce rate in the United States is at about 50%, chances are you know at least several people who have been through a divorce. Ask about their process, how they selected a divorce attorney, and how their attorney performed for them.
After you have received the names of several divorce attorneys that you received from asking other people, go online and start researching those attorneys and others. Many divorce attorneys have websites, write articles, and advertise on divorce portal websites. You can get quite a bit of information about how an attorney approaches cases and treats clients by reviewing their website.
After you have reviewed the divorce attorney websites, make a list of at least two and as many as five divorce attorneys who you think you will be comfortable speaking with. Call the offices of those divorce attorneys and schedule consultations. Some of those attorneys will charge you for a consultation; the more experience the attorney has, the more likely that you will have to pay for time with that attorney.
When you attend a consultation with a divorce attorney, be prepared. Make an outline of the history of your marriage and the problems facing you now. If you or your spouse has filed any papers in court, make sure you bring them with you. Bring one or two years tax returns or a recent financial statement so that the divorce attorney can review some of your financial data before being asked questions about "results".
Make sure you ask each divorce attorney questions about how that attorney's office operates in response to client phone calls, emails, or other inquiries or needs. If you will be working with a divorce attorney who has no other attorney in their office, be prepared to wait in line when you have a need for a response. That attorney will have other clients who have needs just as significant as yours, and an attorney can be responsive to only one client at a time. Even with that drawback, there may be a divorce attorney who you feel is just right for you who is also a solo practitioner. That is a trade off that you may have to get comfortable with.
After you have completed all of the consultations and reviewed the answers to all of your questions, decide which divorce attorney you felt most comfortable with and which one you believe will work with you to get the type of results that you want.results that you want.
Why Hiring a Divorce Attorney Is A Good Idea
Selecting a divorce lawyer to handle your family law case is a very important decision. The following are a few important criteria to help in finding the right divorce lawyer.
Experience and Focus
Any divorce lawyer you consider should have substantial experience in handling divorce cases in your location. An experienced divorce lawyer will know the tendencies of the various judges in your jurisdiction and should be able to use this knowledge to your advantage. Additionally, that lawyer should practice primarily in the field of divorce law. Often people will hire a lawyer who practices primarily in some other area, thinking that any lawyer will do. However, divorce law is a very specialized field that requires particular skills and experience in order to have a likelihood of reaching a successful conclusion.
Past Client Testimonials
Perhaps the best way to decide which divorce lawyer to use for your divorce case is to find out what former clients have to say about that lawyer. While divorce is never an enjoyable process, some divorce lawyers have more success at satisfying their clients than others. If you do not know someone who has been a client of that particular divorce lawyer, you should consider asking the lawyer for a list of clients that you can contact who can describe their experience with the lawyer. While client confidentiality is important, any good experienced divorce lawyer should have at least a few former clients who are willing to vouch for him or her.
When a client becomes dissatisfied with a divorce lawyer, one of the most common complaints is that they were unable to communicate with the lawyer. It is very important that your divorce lawyer be accessible and prompt in responding to your phone calls, emails, and requests for meetings. While you can ask the divorce lawyer about their office policy, this is another area where you can best evaluate the divorce lawyer by hearing what former clients have to say.
If a former client of the lawyer tells you that they found it very difficult to contact the attorney, or that the lawyer either did not return calls or respond to emails or would take several days to do so, you should definitely avoid that lawyer. Divorce is an unpleasant and frustrating process under the best of circumstances. If you are unable to reach your divorce attorney, or at least someone on his or her staff, the frustration level can increase exponentially.
When you make your initial appointment with the divorce attorney, you should inquire about a consultation fee. Some lawyers do brief initial consultations for free, although most experienced divorce lawyers will charge between $100.00 and $200.00 as a consultation fee, or will charge their normal hourly rate.
For example, I charge a flat $100.00 consultation fee with no additional hourly charges, regardless of the length of the meeting. Essentially, the consultation fee is to "weed out" those people who are not serious about the possibility of hiring me. Given that my normal hourly rate is $200.00/hour and the usual typical consultation takes about 90 minutes, the charge for my consultation is significantly discounted. Therefore, you shouldn't let a consultation fee scare you away from interviewing a particular lawyer.
During the consultation it is vitally important that you have a candid discussion with the prospective divorce lawyer about fees and what you can expect. Typically, an experienced divorce lawyer will require the payment of a substantial retainer up front, against which that lawyer's hourly rate and expenses will be charged. You should find out what that lawyer's hourly rate is, what the up front retainer will be, whether any portion of the retainer is refundable if it is not exhausted, and how often you can expect to receive invoices that detail their hourly charges and expenses. You also will want to know how detailed the invoices are. Once again, this is another area where you can get excellent information from those people who have been clients of that divorce lawyer.
While all the above issues are important, there is one final question you should ask yourself before hiring a divorce lawyer. Are you comfortable with that lawyer and are you confident in his or her abilities? If the answer is anything other than a resounding "yes," you should keep looking. Your case is too important to entrust to someone who does not inspire your confidence
Selecting a Divorce Attorney
A family law attorney is helpful resource when it comes to legal matters concerning familial events. These lawyers handle a variety of legal cases involving marriage, minor children, and elderly parents. Some law firms specialize in one specific field of law while others represent all types of cases.
Selecting a family law attorney should be given careful consideration. This is of particular importance when retaining lawyers to represent minor children or establish guardianship for parents suffering from conditions that limit mental capacities, such as Alzheimer's or dementia.
It can be beneficial to consult with three or more law firms to meet lawyers and staff members face-to-face. Clients often spend considerable time with legal counsel, so it can be helpful to work with an attorney whose persona puts them at ease.
Taking time to interview candidates can help clients select the most appropriate lawyer for the task at hand. It can also minimize the potential to change lawyers in the midst of the case.
There are many options available for finding a good attorney. Many people obtain referrals from family and friends. Others use lawyer referral networks or conduct online research. Some utilize telephone directories.
One common mistake people make is selecting lawyers based on the size of their phone book advertisement. It's important to realize that large ads do not necessarily equate to being the best attorney.
Lawyer referral networks are another option for locating family law attorneys. Some referral networks assess a fee while others offer complimentary services. It is rarely a necessity to pay anyone to assist in locating lawyers so proceed with caution when fees are assessed.
Once 3 or 4 law firms have been located it is time to setup an initial consultation. Law firms often provide complimentary meet-and-greet sessions, but some assess a nominal fee. Be certain to determine fees before making the appointment.
Ask to meet with all staff members who will work on the case. It is common practice for attorneys to enlist help from paralegals and administrative assistants to reduce legal fees. Clients should feel at ease with all staff members, but especially those whom they will work closely with.
It is important to establish legal fees before hiring law firms. Legal fees are usually based on the type of case involved. One-time events, such as drafting prenuptial agreements or filing legal name changes, are usually billed at a flat fee. Ongoing cases that require court appearances or extensive research are typically billed at an hourly rate.
Most lawyers require an upfront retainer fee for representing ongoing cases. This fee is usually around 25-percent of anticipated fees. Attorneys oftentimes require payment in full when services are rendered, while others send monthly invoices.
Clients that require payment plans must discuss terms ahead of time to ensure timely access to legal counsel. It is crucial to stay current with payments; otherwise, lawyers can refuse to provide legal counsel.
One way to reduce legal expenses is to always be organized and prepared for meetings. It is helpful to keep case documents organized in a dedicated file folder. Always keep record of phone conversations, face-to-face meetings, and email correspondence that take place with the family law lawyer and staff and retain copies of all documents related to the case.