Anyone who has gone through a divorce can tell you it is a heavy and unpleasant experience. However, having the right legal professional on your side can be hugely beneficial. What do qualities do you look for in good divorce attorneys?
Let’s find out in today’s post.
Choosing the right attorney to represent your case is one of the most important decisions you will make in your divorce journey. Thus, it’s vital to know what qualities to look for, what questions to ask them, and what to talk about during your first consultation.
Common Reasons for Divorce
According to research, between 40 and 50% of first marriages end in divorce. The numbers go up in subsequent marriages.
This legal proceeding has been part of American society that family law updates over the years have made it easier for individuals to file for it.
According to researchers, the following factors have contributed to a higher risk of divorce among married couples. Whatever your reason for divorce is, it’s vital to discuss it in detail with your attorney.
This will help your attorney build your case and gather all pertinent information to support your claim.
Marrying at a young age – this is relatively self-explanatory. Most couples who married at a young age usually means they are not prepared for married life. Thus, they end up divorcing in the first year or two of their marriage.
Less income – finances have always been a point of contention among married couples. Those with less income usually end up straining their relationship and deciding to divorce.
Less education – studies have also shown that many individuals who didn’t attain a higher education level have a higher chance of divorce.
Accidental pregnancy – many couples who married because they’ve had a surprise pregnancy usually end up divorcing. This is typically the case with empty nesters.
Premarital cohabitation – generally, couples who have lived together prior to marrying are less likely to get divorced. Cohabitation before marriage provides couples a chance to get to know each other more.
Choosing the Best Divorce Attorneys
Before you choose among your local divorce attorneys, you must first know what characteristics to look for. Having an expert divorce lawyer is highly beneficial – this helps you overcome any irrationalities or unfair advantage the other party might put on you.
Characteristics of a Reliable Divorce Attorney
Professional and Academic Qualifications
Make a list of your local divorce attorneys using a simple Google search. Once you have up to five lawyers on your list, look through their résumé. You can typically access this information on their website, LinkedIn profile, or an attorney directory site.
Check what degrees they hold and where they got them from. Another important item to determine is if they have the state license to practice law within your jurisdiction.
If, for instance, you are residing in one state and your former spouse is in another, you need to find an attorney who can handle divorce-related matters in both states.
Professional qualifications of divorce attorneys also entail affiliations with law societies, memberships in local and national law organizations, recommendations from senior divorce attorneys and judges, practice history, and references from former and current clients.
Along with academic and professional qualifications, it’s ideal that you hire an experienced divorce attorney.
Look for someone with adept at handling various legal cases involving family law. Reliable divorce attorneys must have experience in multiple aspects of family law such as child custody rights, alimony, distribution of properties, etc.
These details may manifest themselves in the references and recommendations from clients and their professional network. The wider and more prolonged the divorce lawyer’s experience, the more advantageous it is for the client to hire their services.
Proficiency in Building a Case
Every case is greatly influenced by how divorce attorneys build it. On top of that, an experienced and reliable divorce lawyer will know the best angle from which to highlight for their client’s benefit.
If the divorce trial offers you unfavorable details with the divorce settlements, a good divorce lawyer can talk through allocating the marital assets through proper negotiation and mediation.
Furthermore, your divorce lawyer should have backup plans up his or her sleeve regarding your case. He or she should be able to discuss different scenarios with you and how to manage them so you could get satisfactory results from your divorce case.
Aside from case-building skills, divorce attorneys’ communication abilities are vital. During a divorce proceeding, your lawyer will be up there presenting your needs, concerns, and expectations before a judge and other concerned parties.
Thus, your lawyer must have all the necessary information about your specific case. On top of that, divorce lawyers must know how to commune with the opposite legal party and your estranged spouse.
This can work in your favor, especially in the matter of settling various important items outside of the family court. Generally, this can make the divorce process more manageable and less of a hassle for you and your estranged spouse.
Calmness and Composure
Legal professionals must present themselves with poise, calmness, and composure at all times – especially at times of high emotions or extreme crisis.
A timid or anxious attorney, or one who is easily scared, loses their ability to present and negotiate their client’s case properly. Therefore, they lose the case altogether.
Reasonable divorce attorneys know how to handle themselves maturely and professionally. They are mindful of maintaining professionalism when faced with sudden disclosures from the other parties – primarily when representing you in the divorce court.
It’s normal for divorce attorneys to handle multiple cases at a time. However, it’s not an excuse to be neglectful of any of these individual cases.
Divorce attorneys need to have a well-regimented and organized system. This trait allows them to allot appropriate time and attention to each of their client’s case. Attorneys need to make time for each of their clients, including keeping appointments and attending court schedules.
When vetting divorce attorneys, you must gauge the accessibility and availability of their law office as a whole.
Do they have a prompt and reliable staff that you can speak with any time in case the lawyer is not available? What are their communication policies when you need to reach them outside business hours?
Typically, quality and value are measured with a price. However, there are experienced and good divorce attorneys who offer their services at a reasonable price. Professional legal experts are also usually open to flexible payment terms.
Charging high rates is typically unprofessional. On top of that, it discourages potential clients from even meeting with these lawyers. If no one is hiring a lawyer with expensive rates, that typically means their legal skills are not being honed.
Look for a legal professional with reasonable rates and will give your case the adequate time and attention it needs.
Essential Questions to Ask Divorce Attorneys
When you’re vetting lawyers, you don’t have to hire the first one that comes up from your Google search.
Meeting with several divorce attorneys allows you to gauge their qualities, personality and get a general feel of their characteristics.
After all, you’ll be discussing sensitive information about your life, such as financial disclosures, division of assets, personal relationships, and other delicate matters.
Thus, you must hire a lawyer that you are comfortable working with.
When you meet with an attorney, here are some helpful questions to get a fruitful conversation started.
We hope that these pointers will help you decide whether a divorce lawyer is suitable for your specific case or not.
What to Ask a Divorce Lawyer
- Do you specialize in divorce? Or are divorces a fraction of your family law practice?
- How long have you been practicing?
- Will you be working on my case yourself? Or is another lawyer handling it? Can I meet them?
- What is your game plan/backup plans for my case?
- How long do you think my case will get resolved?
- How will I get a hold of you during an emergency? What is considered an emergency?
- What is your rate? How will you charge me?
- What other costs should I prepare myself for? (Private investigators, financial analysts, accountants, psychologists, etc.)
- How do you suggest I keep my divorce costs down?
- Is it advisable that I negotiate directly with my former spouse?
These are obviously general questions. The flow of the conversation will depend on the specific details of your case. However, the questions above serve as good starting points if you are unsure about communicating with a divorce lawyer.
There are lawyers who may advertise themselves as divorce or family law attorneys. However, it’s important to note that family law is a subcategory that involves complex legal facets. Thus, it takes considerable time and experience to master this facet of the law.
On top of that, family law has subcategories that require further expertise, such as custody law, international custody, guardianship, and special domestic relations orders.
In addition, a variety of financial factors affect a divorce case, including:
- Individual financial information of the divorcing couple
- Restraining orders regarding transferring assets or changing heir designations before or during the divorce
- Dividing the marital property and assets (real estate property, business interests, stock portfolios, goodwill, valuable collectibles, etc.)
- Dividing retirement benefits (if applicable)
Divorce and family law is a vast facet of the legal process. It also varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Furthermore, divorce and family laws are frequently overturned and updated.
Therefore, you must hire an attorney that keeps abreast of the latest developments in divorce and family laws.