Dealing with a divorce can have you scrambling on who to trust and who has your best interests at heart.
Unfortunately, a divorce lawyer isn’t a therapist. So, without any prior experience of the legalities, choosing an attorney that is right for you can be frustrating when all you want is have the situation behind you.
Luckily for you, there are divorce coaches like Laura Miolla who can advise you on what is and isn’t normal procedure, when dealing with a divorce attorney.
“In my divorce coach practice, I’ve heard too many stories of time and money wasted as clients go through lawyer after lawyer trying to find the right one. And yet, finding the right divorce lawyer is key to what could be a faster, less-expensive divorce, compared to a long, drawn-out emotional and financial nightmare.”
Here Are Seven Tips To Finding a Suitable Divorce Lawyer
1. They Are Not Your Therapist
The most important thing to realise is that a divorce is a legal process and not a therapy session. The sole purpose of consulting with your attorney is the dissolving of your assets and resolving any custody issues.
It is understandable that you may want your attorney to listen to your anger, frustration, pain, and sadness. But, remember, it’s not their job (or their speciality). Their job is to represent you to the best of their ability in terms of legal procedures related to assets, alimony issues, and your children. Remember, the clock is always running and their rates are far more expensive than a therapist. So, while they will listen to your frustrations, it is not their job, and they don’t want it to be either.
“…it’s a gross misuse of your money if this is how you’re using them. And, divorce attorneys have seen it all. What seems immensely important to you might barely register for them within the scope of the legal process.”
2. Stay Focused On The Goal
Remember, your goal is to get divorced and, hopefully, without any major depreciation to your lifestyle. When it comes to negotiating over material things that do not mean much to you, in the big picture, make sure you do not let your emotions run rampant.
This will simply delay the process and turn it into a litigious and expensive affair.
3. Is a Court Case Worth It?
Have you considered other forms of litigation other than the traditional legal proceedings? Are you leaving the marriage without children and little complication with finances?
Hiring a mediator to negotiate the terms of your divorce instead can be less expensive than hiring a divorce lawyer. And, you may not have to hire an attorney at all.
4. Find At Least Three Potential Attorneys
The biggest mistake you can do is hire the first lawyer you meet. While it is understandable you would like to have this stage of your life well behind you, not all attorneys are the same.
The five most common types of divorce:
- Collaborative Divorce: Each spouse will hire their own attorney and the four parties will meet to solve the terms of the divorce.
- Mediated Divorce: Spouses will hire one mediator to facilitate communication between the two spouses.
- No-Fault Divorce: This type of divorce could be seen as the most amicable, as it suggests no fault by either spouse apart from a breakdown of the marriage.
- Summary Divorce: This is a streamlined process for short marriages with limited property, no spousal support, and no children.
- Uncontested Divorce: Spouses are able to agree on the terms of the divorce, without lawyers or a court proceeding.
5. Do Your Research
You can start your research and interview process with an initial phone call to a candidate you deem suitable.
Things to ask:
- What is your experience and specialisation within family law?
- What type of client do you typically represent?
- What are your rates? (Most divorce lawyers charge an hourly fee and require a retainer. Some lawyers may negotiate if the settlement contested is significant. Do not waste your time meeting with a lawyer that is out if your cost range.)
TIP: Most divorce attorneys provide a free consult to discuss your specific situation and what their legal approach would be. So, take advantage of it to gather as much legal advice as possible! Success is in negotiation.
6. Red Flags
Be on the alert for red flags as, unfortunately, many attorneys will simply tell you what you would like to hear to close the deal. As there are no guarantees in this process, if an attorney is making promises to you in your first consult, this is more than a cause for suspicion.
7. Make Your Choice
The divorce attorney you choose should have all the below qualities:
- Professional, knowledgeable, responsive, and communicates well.
- Someone you trust and feel comfortable with.
- Supports your basic philosophy toward divorce and has a style that works for you.
- Recognises the importance of your children and puts them first in the legal process by not making unreasonable child support demands or custody arrangements.