The divorce rate in Texas is just over 10%. While the divorce rate is falling both in Texas and nationally, there are still thousands of people getting divorced each year.
If you’re contemplating a divorce, you’ll find that everyone has a piece of advice or input for you. There is one piece of divorce advice you should definitely follow. Take the time to find the right attorney to advise and represent you.
Follow these eight steps to finding the right attorney for your needs.
1. Choose Your Divorce Process
Before you start looking for a lawyer, you need to decide what you want to do. Are you looking for litigation or mediation? Do you need a lawyer to assist with a collaborative divorce or some other type of divorce proceeding?
Once you determine this, you can start looking for a lawyer that specializes in that type of proceeding. For example, you don’t want to hire a lawyer that specializes in mediation when you’re facing an ugly litigation battle.
2. Determine the Legal Service You Need
When you start looking for a divorce attorney, you will see “family law” as their specialty. Divorce is just one segment under the family law umbrella. You need to figure out your legal needs to find the right family law lawyer.
Here are some of the common practice areas that family law lawyers will specialize in:
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Property Division
- Paternity Testing
Beyond the area of law, there are specific services that you need the lawyer to perform. You’ll want to find a lawyer who has experience with your desired service.
- Adult name change
- Postmarital Agreements/Partition Agreements
- Premarital Agreements
- Protective Orders (Domestic Violence Prohibition)
- Restraining Orders (Domestic Violence Deterrence)
This experience will help your attorney navigate your divorce.
3. What Is Your Budget?
Do not base your entire decision on the cost of the lawyer. There is truth to the saying; you get what you pay for. The best approach is to determine what you can afford and then find the best lawyer possible for that cost.
Don’t get hung up on the idea of not wanting to pay for a lawyer. Hiring an attorney will ensure someone is looking out for your interests and rights.
4. Get Some Outside Input
Chances are, you know someone who has gone through a divorce. The best way to start looking for your attorney is to ask around. Remember to ask what kind of divorce they had to ensure the lawyer will be the right fit for your needs.
Your second option is to ask for a referral from another attorney. If you know an attorney who is in another area of practice, they may be able to recommend someone they know professionally. This way, you can get the contact information of someone who has a positive professional reputation among their peers.
5. Look Online
After you’ve asked around locally, you can head online. Be careful though, do not get sold by a law firm’s slick online advertising.
A lawyer’s website can be an excellent resource for finding out a firm’s specialty. You can also find information about their performance track record and experience.
6. Read the Reviews
You should also take online reviews with a grain of salt. People are more likely to leave a review when they are upset than when they are happy. People going through a divorce can still feel unhappy despite the lawyer providing outstanding service.
Online rating websites can’t always be trusted either. Some charge attorneys for their listings. This means that if a lawyer chooses not to pay, they may end up not getting listed, or worse, have a bad rating.
7. Meet with Your Top Choices
Before you make a final choice, you need to meet with a few lawyers. Meet with at least two to three lawyers to get a feel for them. It can be frustrating to explain your situation over and over, but it will pay off when you find the right fit.
Pay attention to the attorney’s perspective and how they want to handle your case. You may find that you don’t agree with your top choice.
Go with your gut feeling; if you don’t feel right, then that’s not the lawyer for you.
8. Create a List of Important Questions
Before you meet with the attorney, create a list of questions. This will help you compare the different lawyers on an even playing field.
You may be mentally all over the place during a divorce, so creating a list of questions will help keep you focused. You should also bring a pen and paper to take notes.
Here are some questions to help you get started:
- Do you specialize in divorce?
- What type of divorces do you focus on?
- How long have you worked in this area of law?
- What are your fees?
- What are your initial ideas for my representation?
- Do you attend continuing education to stay up to date on changing laws?
Follow Your Attorney’s Divorce Advice
It can be tempting to pick the first lawyer you come across. After all, no one wants to deal with divorce, so choosing an attorney faster can help make the process go quicker.
Don’t make this mistake. Instead, follow the divorce advice in this post and take the time to find the right attorney for you. Look for one that you feel comfortable with and who specializes in the type of separation you’re facing.
Contact us today, and let’s review your divorce case.