Millions of men and women go through divorce proceedings every year and yet many give little thought to finding a lawyer that will best meet their needs.
While a good lawyer will lead you through the divorce quagmire and hopefully get you the best possible results, the wrong lawyer can create more problems and add to the nightmare of divorce. You owe it to yourself to spend significant time and effort looking for the right divorce lawyer.
Finding the best lawyer takes time and effort. But if you choose without proper care you may end up with a botched divorce that can leave you with financial and psychological wounds that take a long time to heal.
In order to pick the best lawyer you should learn about the divorce process, research available lawyers in your area and interview several, insist that the lawyer tell you what his strategy for your specific case will be and how long he believes the case will take. If you are satisfied with the plan, hire the lawyer and follow up regularly to make sure the lawyer sticks to this plan.
The following are some questions you may want to ask lawyers you interview.
Do you specialize in divorces, or are divorces just a part of your practice? Are you a certified family law specialist?
How have you handled divorces like mine before. How many divorces like mine did you handle in the past year?
What is your strategy for my case? How long will it take to resolve my case?
How long to you take to return phone calls? How do I get a hold of you if there is an emergency? What do you consider to be an emergency?
Will anyone else in your office be working on my case? What experience do they have? Can I meet them?
How will you charge me? What is your hourly rate? Do you charge for the time I spend with other lawyers, with paralegals, and/or with secretaries? If so, at what rate? What is your retainer up front?
What costs other than your own do you expect will be involved (for example, for private investigators, forensic accountants, physicians, and/or psychologists), and how will you charge me for them?
Do you charge for faxes, copies, and long-distance telephone calls? How much? (Some lawyers consider these services an additional profit opportunity.)
What’s your estimate of the total cost to me of this divorce? (Do not be alarmed that most divorce attorneys will resist answering this question as the cost of the divorce depends greatly upon the level of conflict in your case. However, the way in which the attorney answers this question may help you size up the attorney. An honest attorney will often answer that it is difficult to estimate the costs in advance. An attorney that gives you an unrealistically low amount may just be trying to get your business).
Do you allow me to negotiate directly with my spouse?
How can I keep the cost of my divorce down? Are there tasks that I can do myself to cut down on the amount you will charge me?
Based on what you know about my case, how would you predict a judge would rule on it?
Do you carry malpractice insurance? (Nationwide, it’s estimated that a third of lawyers do not carry malpractice insurance. You should hire an attorney who is covered— the coverage also protects you!)
What can you do to help me understand the tax effect of the decisions I will have to make?