Q: My wife wants to get divorced. She has already hired an attorney and I need to hire one. How do I choose the best divorce lawyer for me?
A: Finding the right attorney is difficult and daunting process. It is best to start by inquiring of your friends and family as to the strengths and weaknesses of their divorce attorneys. Bear in mind, however, that you friends divorces may be very different from your own. Schedule appointments for consultations with 1-3 attorneys and be prepared to pay consultation fees. While some attorneys offer free consultations, most do not. The key to choosing the right person, apart from having confidence in his/her professional experience, is feeling comfortable with that attorney and also having complete trust in him/her. Be prepared to ask questions, including whether he/she specializes in divorce matters. Retaining an attorney who specializes in divorce is essential. You would not want to go to an eye doctor if you have foot pain. Likewise, you do not want to hire an attorney specializing in real estate to handle your divorce. Ask the attorney how many divorce cases he/she has handled in your county and how many he/she has handled that are similar to your case. Ask about his/her trial experience and whether they have experience litigating against your spouse’s attorney. Ask if anyone else in the office will be handling your case and to what extent. If so, ask to meet that attorney as well, to ensure that you have confidence is his/her abilities. Ask about the legal fees and the billing procedures. Ask how quickly you can expect a response to your phone calls. All phone calls should be returned within a reasonable time, certainly within 24 hours. In fact, one of the biggest complaints that litigants have against attorneys is the failure to return telephone calls. Discuss your objectives and whether the attorney believes that they are realistic. Be aware of any attorney who makes any guarantees. We are only attorneys and do not have crystal balls. The attorney should only promise to do his/her best. An attorney who promises a particular outcome is not to be trusted. Finally, be honest- if you do not feel you can trust the attorney, find another one.
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