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How to Select a Divorce Attorney

The following are guidelines to consider when selecting a divorce attorney who is the right fit for your needs:

Experience 

There is no guarantee that an experienced attorney will be better for you than one who has been practicing for a shorter time, but it is reasonable to start with the idea that the more experienced lawyer will have a better idea about what other local lawyers are like and what might happen if you take your case before a specific judge in your community.  Experience in handling divorces is crucial, not just years of general legal experience.  Divorce law is complex and complicated, so research who in your community has been representing clients in divorces for a number of years.

The Texas Board of Legal Specialization certifies lawyers as specialists in specific areas of law, including family law.  Attorneys who are “board certified” in family law have concentrated their practice in family law, have demonstrated a specific level of experience in different kinds of cases, and have passed a rigorous examination.

Personality and Practice Style

People who are getting divorced often feel vulnerable and lost.  Your family lawyer’s personality should reassure you while not giving you unrealistic expectations about the outcome of your case.  The right lawyer for you will listen to how you feel your case should proceed, then build on that information using his or her expertise, skill and experience.

Think about how a lawyer makes you feel when you are in his or her office.  Does it seem like people in the office are interested in your well being?  Are they courteous and respectful?  During your first visit with an attorney you will probably see the best he or she has to offer because the attorney and staff will want to make a good impression on potential clients.

Fee Structure

It is essential that an attorney and client have a clear understanding about how the client will be charged and how the fees will be paid.  Most family law attorneys in Texas will bill the client at an hourly rate (which will differ based on specific communities and the experience and skill of the attorney) and will require a retainer in order to begin work on your case.

While it is almost always difficult to discuss money transactions, it is a discussion that needs to occur.  Attorneys usually have written fee agreements or employments contracts.  Read these documents carefully.  If you have a limited amount of money available to pay for a divorce, tell the lawyer this information at the beginning of the relationship.  If the lawyer does not believe he or she can complete the case for that amount of money, it is probably best to look elsewhere for an attorney.  Most attorneys have a list of less-expensive lawyers to whom they refer, so ask for names.  The worst outcome is to get into the middle of a divorce or other family law matter then have insufficient funds to pay your lawyer or another lawyer to complete the process.

Ask an attorney you are interviewing how he or she will help you find ways to keep the costs of the divorce down.  Make sure they know what your financial parameters are, and what expectations you have regarding costs.

Referrals

It is helpful to ask for referrals from friends who have been through divorces, but remember that the facts of their case, their personalities, their estate, and their children are different from yours.  Just because an attorney was a good fit for your neighbor does not mean that same lawyer will be right for you.  Ask friends and acquaintances what about their lawyer they liked and did not like.  Also ask about their spouse’s lawyer.  What did that attorney do to help calm the waters or make matters worse?  Information from friends and lawyers, though, is just a piece of information.  Use that, along with the other information you gather to decide which lawyer will best meet your needs.

Comfort Level

Choosing the right divorce attorney for you can be the factor that decides how easy or difficult your entire divorce process will be.  The decision is too important to make lightly.  Do not hesitate to interview more than one attorney so you can get a feel about what alternatives are available.  At the end of the interview process, you have to assess your overall comfort level with an attorney before you decide if he or she is right for you given your circumstances at the time you begin the divorce process.

12 Responses to How to Select a Divorce Attorney

  • That’s good to know lawyers often use an hourly rate. Hourly rates can allow services to be flexible. Lawyers often have free first consultations; you can figure out fee structures there.

  • My friend just confided in me that her and her husband are planning on getting a divorce. I want to help her find a divorce lawyer to make sure that things go as smoothly as possible. I like how you point out that it is beneficial to look for someone that people around you have used and trusted in the past.

  • Thanks for going over some ways to hire a good divorce attorney. It’s nice to know that you should try to find a lawyer that will make you feel comfortable and has your best interests in mind. It sounds important to find a lawyer you can meet in person, especially to get a good look at their personality and how they act.

  • My uncle and his wife of five years decided to separate. It was explained here that when looking for a lawyer, they should have a great personality and style. Moreover, it’s advisable to hire an experienced lawyer for the best outcome.

  • Thanks for the tip to not hesitate to interview more than one attorney when it comes to divorce attorneys. My sister has been living in my basement the past three months in fear of her husband. Maybe it is finally time that we help her find a divorce attorney so that she can start to live in peace again.

  • I was talking to a friend of mine that has decided it might be useful to search for a divorce law attorney. She wants to make sure that she would pick the right person for the job. Having the insight to check referrals will really help her.

  • My husband and I are getting a divorce after 6 years of marriage. I want to make sure I”m getting the best divorce attorney possible to help me get my case together. Thank you for suggesting that I should ask for referrals from friends that have recently been in a divorce. I’ll have to do some research and find the best attorney in our area.

  • I do agree with you that those who are considering a divorce are always helpless and disoriented. As such, they are most likely to commit a mistake in making further decisions and feeling lost as to how the case will proceed. Though I will not subscribe to divorce, in case my advice will be sought regarding this, I will simply refer them to a divorce attorney who can help assist them well.

  • Thank you for mentioning that the person needs to look for a legal counsel that experienced in divorce law because it is complicated, and only one with experience can ensure a good outcome. I am not sure what kind of outcome my brother is after if he wants to be divorced from his wife or not, but I will ask him to find one with experience. After all, he did say he wants to win as he has sacrificed a lot for the case already.

  • Thanks for pointing out how great divorce lawyers should be able to give you realistic expectations for your divorce case. If I were to get divorced, I will definitely want a legal representative that can help me define my goals better for my divorce case. That includes the properties that can absolutely go to my name and the ones that need a little bit of contesting. Having realistic expectations for this type of case can really put clients more grounded and reasonable with their targets.

  • Even though I’m not married, I wouldn’t want to go through a divorce on my own. That being said, you are right that you should find someone with experience since that would be quite helpful to your case. Also, I would do as you suggested and look at their fee structure to see how much I’ll be spending.

  • Things haven’t been going well in my relationship and I have been thinking about hiring a divorce attorney. I think that the personality and experience of the attorney are the most important attributes for the lawyer. I would want to make sure that I had a lawyer that would help me win the cases and not destroy my entire relationship.

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