10 Tips Before You Hire a Divorce Lawyer
Not everyone needs an attorney to get divorced. Simple, uncontested divorces without the complications of large estates to be divided and without children involved do not always require the services of a lawyer. It does make sense to hire an attorney if your case is a contested divorce involving any type of abuse, dishonesty or bitter disagreements. You are also likely to need an attorney if your spouse has one. If you can’t afford an attorney, you should check with your state government’s legal aid offices to see if you qualify for low or no cost representation. If you do decide to hire a divorce lawyer, here are a few tips you should know before you get out your checkbook:
Hire an attorney with a good reputation and experience in divorce litigation. Consult with your friends, relatives and other lawyers to get recommendations. Contact your state’s Bar Association to make sure the lawyer you are considering is in good standing.
Choose a lawyer you can afford. Ask about the fees and make sure you understand your commitment. It will be highly embarrassing and inconvenient if you can’t afford to pay your lawyer after the divorce process has started.
Make sure your lawyer has direct experience with the court your case will be heard in. You don’t want an out-of-town attorney handling a local case. Your lawyer needs to be familiar with the courts and judges in your jurisdiction.
Hire an attorney who is readily available and takes an active interest in your case. You don’t want to be represented by someone who is too busy to take your phone calls and won’t fully answer your questions.
Look for an attorney that specializes in the type of divorce situation you are facing. Some attorneys emphasize special focus on issues like alimony, mediation, child custody and other specific problem areas. Choose one that fits your case.
Arrive at your lawyer’s office prepared to pay attention, take notes and ask questions.
Don’t expect your lawyer to do absolutely everything for you. You are the one getting divorced and you should expect to participate in the process.
Choose an attorney who is attentive and easy to talk to. A good attorney will listen to your priorities and provide you with the proper knowledge you need to make good divorce decisions.
Gather your financial papers, legal documents and any other paperwork that has to do with property ownership and money. You’ll have to disclose all your assets and earnings to the court and your lawyer will need copies of everything. You’ll accomplish more in less time if you have all your documents ready for your lawyer.
Tell your lawyer the truth. Don’t exaggerate or minimize the circumstances surrounding your divorce. Don’t sugar coat past behaviors, attempt to hide assets or try to fool your own attorney. Your lawyer can’t do his job correctly without full knowledge of your case.
Set realistic goals for your divorce. Good attorneys rarely work for free and they are not magicians. Your lawyer cannot punish your spouse in court for you. Your attorney can only work within the boundaries of the legal system and you should not expect every aspect of your divorce to be decided in your favor. The best divorce is one that results in fair treatment for all parties involved.