How to Select a Divorce Attorney

Divorce can be a challenging time, and having the right attorney by your side can make a world of difference.Choosing a divorce attorney goes beyond finding someone who is qualified and has experience in the area of family law.   Below are a few considerations to help you in choosing the divorce lawyer that is right for you.

Do you want a battle or a compromise.

Divorce attorneys come with their own personalities and often adopt very distinct approaches to divorce.  Some of them are ever ready for battle and will keep the fight going for as long as you want or can afford.  Others advocate more harmonious approaches, such as advocating for mediation, cooperative or collaborative divorce, which are intended to assist the couple to work through their differences and preserve important family bonds.  It is important that you choose an attorney who will be support your manner of handling your divorce.

How do you see your role in the process?

If you want to be closely involved in making decisions, it would be good to find an attorney who can explain things well to you in a way that you can understand and who will keep you regularly informed throughout the process.  If, however, you have little time and would rather take a more hands-off approach, leaving most of the decision-making to your attorney, then you would want to choose someone who you trust to make important decisions about your future on your behalf. 

Seek a referral.

If you are apprehensive about hiring an attorney, you could first consider getting a suggestion from a friend or colleague.  If you have an attorney who you work with on other matters, she may also be able to refer you to a colleague or someone she knows to be a qualified divorce lawyer.  Don't be afraid to check out the internet.  Look for active websites where attorney's have their biographies, blogs, and personal testimonies.  

Find the right fit.

You may want to interview a few attorneys to see if your personalities mesh.  Some may charge for this initial consultation, but it may be a worthwhile investment.  You will likely spend a good deal of time with your attorney, and he or she will want to know very intimate details of your life.  So, it is important that you hire an attorney whom you trust and with whom you feel comfortable sharing personal information about you and your marriage.

This initial consultation may also serve to help you get to know a bit about your attorney and whether or not his or her values and beliefs are in line with your own.  If your children are your most important consideration, you would do well to hire an attorney who places value on protecting that relationship and who has experience with families and how children of different ages will handle transitions and the various parenting plans.     

Verify professional qualifications and experience.

Qualifications and experience are, of course, important considerations, and you would want to verify, at a minimum, that any attorney you hire is licensed to practice in your state.  It would also be wise to find out more about his or her background, how many years she has been practicing, for example, and in what areas of the law she has experience.  It may be best to avoid general practitioners and opt instead for an attorney that focuses her practice specifically on the area of family law or who has the majority of the their practice in family law.  The jack-of-all-trades attorney likely has less experience handling divorce cases and may not be as familiar with the intricacies of divorce law, as much of her time would be spent handling other types of cases.  An attorney with fewer years of experience, but who dedicates all of her time to family law and divorce issues, in particular, is more likely to stay abreast of changes in the law and possess more experience relevant to your case.  She will also likely be familiar with family law judges in the area and will, therefore, have a better idea how a judge will likely to rule on issues related to your divorce and how to structure your case according to the style of a particular judge. 

Does your case require an attorney with specialized skills?

Even among attorneys who practice exclusively in the area of family law, there may be some who are more knowledgeable in certain areas.  There may be those who are skilled mediators, while others may have a lot of courtroom experience.  Further, not all attorneys are comfortable dealing with complex issues, related, for instance, to finances, immigration or high-conflict cases.  Therefore, if your divorce is not the run-of-the-mill sort, you would want to find an attorney who has practical experience handling the unique aspects of your case.