When a marriage is falling apart, it’s hard to think clearly. Splitting up could mean moving out of your house, no longer residing with your children and giving up many luxuries that you’ve become accustomed to. You may want the divorce or it may be your spouse’s choice to split up. With emotions running wild, these five tips will help you focus on finding the perfect divorce lawyer to guide you through the process.
Number One – Start Looking As Soon As Possible
It’s never too soon to start consulting with divorce attorneys when contemplating divorce, and it’s even better if you have all the information before divorce is on your spouse’s radar. This will give you the opportunity to shop around without any pressure. Most divorce attorneys offer free or low cost consultations that give you an idea about what you are entitled to and what type of process (collaborative, mediation or litigation) is best suited for your situation.
Number Two – Think About What Process Will Work Best for You
If you have been married for only a short time, have few assets and no children, one mediation session might be all you need to achieve an agreement. On the other hand, if there is a family business, a family home, young children and a great disparity in income between yourself and your spouse, you might be looking at a long and drawn out litigation process. Of course, it’s always best to resolve things amicably and as soon as possible, but if that’s not realistic, money can be wasted on mediations and collaborative sessions that do not result in agreement. Once you have an idea what process to start with, you can channel your search towards attorneys that specialize in collaborative process, mediation or litigation. Remember, every divorce must end with either an agreement or a judgment.
Number Three – Consult With At Least Three Attorneys
Your divorce will set the course for the rest of your life, and the lives of your children. If you consult with two attorneys, it’s likely that you will get advice that differ on some points. A “third opinion” can help you put it all together, and assess whether one of the attorneys is telling you “what you want to hear” to procure your business. It’s unfortunate that some divorce attorneys will make inflated promises about how much spousal support, child support or property you are entitled to, so it’s wise to have a reality check. You should also weed out any attorney that is too confident about the results – it’s never possible to know for sure what will happen with any type of legal proceeding.
Number Four – The Internet Can Be Your Best Friend
It’s not a bad idea to ask your friends for referrals when you’re seeking a divorce lawyer, but it’s a good idea to research recommendations before scheduling a consultation. Just because a lawyer did a great job for your friend, doesn’t mean that he’s the right lawyer for your divorce. An attorney’s website will give you a good idea about their specialty. For example, if for your divorce, there is an emphasis on mediation and collaboration, your friend’s lawyer may not have the courtroom experience you need for a complicated, high conflict divorce. A large firm running ads above the search results, may be very expensive and may not provide the personal service that you are looking for. It’s always a good idea to read as many reviews as possible, especially the ones posted on Google or Yelp that are difficult to fake.
Number 5 – Come Prepared to Consultations With Divorce Attorneys
Before you make an appointment for a consultation with a divorce attorney, make a list of all the questions you have about your divorce. Are you looking to collect child support and/or spousal support? If so, you should be able to tell the attorney how much you make, how much your spouse makes, the ages of your children and whether they have any special needs or talents. You should know your monthly household budget and have a list of all bank accounts that are owned by both you and your spouse, by you alone and by your spouse alone. You should itemize all property owned in this same manner. The more information you bring with you, the more precise the attorney can be in explaining your options and likely outcomes.