Going through a divorce can be taxing both emotionally and mentally. Divorce is hard on everyone in the family, especially if there are children involved. No matter what the reasons are that may have lead you to this decision, the first and most crucial step is to find the right divorce attorney to represent you as you navigate through the divorce process. Here are a few helpful steps to help guide you.
Step 1: Count on Your Family and Friends
With the high divorce rates in the US, odds are you probably have had a family member or a close friend who went through a divorce. The first step is to ask them how they handled their divorce, if they have any words of advice, or if they have any recommended divorce lawyers in mind. Though you may wish to keep your affairs private, count on your friends and family; they will most likely provide you with the most honest and helpful advice.
Step 2: Realize Your Needs
Before picking out an attorney to represent you, you should ask yourself how you want the divorce to be handled. Did you and your partner have a friendly mutual agreement on the divorce? Or is it a one-sided and messy divorce? Either way, you want to pick out a divorce attorney that is catered to your needs. Also ask yourself what your personal preferences are. Perhaps you have a preference in regards to gender, age, personality, and so forth. It is perfectly reasonable to have these preferences as it is ideal to have someone representing you who best understands your situation.
Step 3: Do Some Research
Often times, depending on the county you live in, there are specific referral programs for divorce attorneys. They will help you find lawyers to represent your case. It is also a good idea to browse through online lawyer directories or through Yellow Pages to familiarize yourself with the different attorney firms in your area. Make a list of divorce lawyers that stand out. Once you have a finalized list, you can narrow it down even more by specifically looking for divorce attorneys that specialize in the type of divorce you're looking for, be it through court, mediation or other avenues.
Step 4: Form a Budget
Before picking out any attorney, you want to know what kind of a budget you are working with. Depending on the firm, the individual attorney, and how specialized they are, rates for certain attorneys may be steep. Again, ask yourself what you hope to get of the divorce and hire an attorney that will be able to help you achieve it.
Step 5: Ask Questions
During the process of finding a divorce attorney, take advantage of the free consultations that some firms may provide. During the session, bring a list of key questions to ask. Questions such as how many years of experience they have had, what types of clients they have dealt with in the past, how much experience they have with the judges that are going to be present during your case, and so forth. Remember there are no “dumb” questions to ask. It is always better to be over informed than to be under informed.
(Learn more about interviewing attorneys in our article, "Your First Meeting With A Divorce Attorney").
It is important that you find the correct divorce attorney for you, so don’t be afraid to search until you do so. This is a stressful time in your life and you need someone that will be there for you and handle the situation the correct way for you.