Aside from the death of a loved one, a divorce is one of the most stressful
experiences a person can go through. Finding a divorce lawyer can be a
daunting task when you’re faced with so many other worries. The
lawyer you hire will be representing you for several months, or even a
year or more, which means finding the right lawyer can make the divorce
process a lot easier on you and your family.
When looking to hire an attorney to represent you in your divorce, you
should look for someone with the following qualities:
1. The ability to communicate well
Clear and easy communication with your divorce lawyer is critical. During
your case, you will need to be able to effectively communicate your concerns
and expectations to your lawyer, and your attorney will need to be able
to clearly explain things to you regarding your case and provide you with
realistic expectations. If an attorney doesn’t listen to you well
or can’t explain things in a way you can understand, you should
continue your search.
While it may seem counter-intuitive, your attorney's ability to communicate
with your spouse and your spouse's attorney is also essential, because
good communication between the attorneys can facilitate fruitful negotiation
and keep costs down. A good divorce lawyer will try to negotiate resolution
of some of the issues that are important to you before heading straight
to court. (Of course, the ability to communicate well with your spouse
and his/her attorney does require some cooperation on their part as well.)
If you end up in court, your attorney also needs to be able to effectively
communicate with the court and litigate passionately. This is important
because you will need your attorney to represent your interests clearly
and to be trusted by the court.
2. Skill and experience
You should look for an attorney who not only can represent you, but can
well. And in order to represent you well, the attorney must be skilled. Your
divorce case is likely to touch all aspects of your life-family, finances,
retirement, career, etc. To protect your interests, your attorney should
be knowledgeable and experienced enough in his or her practice to deal
with the complexities of your case, while allowing you to continue your
daily life as much as possible.
You should look for an attorney who has experience in divorce and family
law with cases similar to yours. For example, if you are dealing with
high-conflict custody, or perhaps a substantial net worth, find out if
a divorce lawyer is knowledgeable in those specific areas. Check their
credentials thoroughly and look for attorneys who continue to seek knowledge
and experience through continuing education opportunities.
When considering hiring an attorney to represent you in your divorce, look
for someone who is available at the key points in your case (or who has
the support available if an issue comes up while your attorney is in court
on another matter or out of the office).
A good divorce lawyer should be available to respond to your questions
in a timely manner or, if not available right away, give you a time frame
within which to expect an answer.
You should also look for an attorney who is not so busy with other cases
that he/she does not have time to devote himself or herself fully to your
case. Don’t expect to be your attorney's only client, but you
should not be lost in a sea of clients, either.
4. Composure (a.k.a. working well under pressure)
Your attorney's ability to maintain composure is not just about staying
calm and focused with you, but also about exhibiting self-control before
the court or with your spouse's attorney, even if frustrated. You
should look for a divorce lawyer who will represent your interests strongly,
but who will not take it personally when things do not turn out exactly
as your attorney intended.
Surprises happen in divorce, because you cannot fully anticipate what the
other side or the court will do. Your attorney should maintain composure
so that he or she is always representing
your interests and is willing and able to adjust their strategy when needed.
Your attorney should be focused, composed, and professional, especially
when representing you to the court.
5. Support and resources
It is unlikely that you will be your attorney's only client, and because
your attorney is human, your attorney will not always be immediately available
to you when you have a question. You should look for an attorney who has
support staff and other attorneys available to assist in the event of
an emergency. It is also important that your attorney have support and
resources available to prepare your case in a timely manner, such as experienced
paralegals, support attorneys, and legal assistants.
All that sounds great. But how do I find a divorce lawyer that meets these
Finding a divorce lawyer you are comfortable with, who will also skillfully
prepare and present your case and represent you zealously, can take some
work. Read our guide on
How to Find a Divorce Lawyer for ways to research and select possible attorneys, and keep our
10 Questions to Choose the Right Family Attorney list handy to help you evaluate any divorce lawyer.