A previous blog post identified ways to improve your divorce outcome. The item leading that list was to hire a competent and experienced divorce (family law) attorney. Which begs the question, what should you look for when hiring a divorce attorney?
- Experience: Experience tops the list, it is critically important that the divorce attorney you choose has a substantial amount of experience handling divorce proceedings. A good indicator of this is the percentage of time that the attorney devotes to family law, if an attorney only handles one or two divorce actions a year, they may not be as focused on family law as another attorney. Experience in handling particular issues is important as well. For example, if you have children and the ultimate custody arrangement is a priority of yours, the attorney you select needs to have experience in handling divorces where child custody has been a key issue.
- What is the Attorney’s Philosophy: Different attorneys will have different approaches to handling a divorce action. Some attorneys will focus more on reaching a settlement short of trial through compromise, whereas another attorney will take every matter through to a trial. If you are looking to reach a settlement short of trial, and you believe that is a realistic expectation, an attorney whose philosophy includes taking every matter through to trial will likely be a poor fit for you. Likewise, if you want to aggressively fight on particular issues, an attorney focused on a collaborative approach will likely not meet your goals.
- What Additional Resources does the Attorney have at their Disposal: If you are dealing with a highly complex divorce that involves the distribution of jointly owned companies or complex real estate issues, a firm that has attorneys specializing in these areas can provide additional value. By leveraging the resources of the firm collectively, you can better position yourself to reach a positive result.
- Ability to Communicate: This is likely one of the most important aspects in selecting your divorce attorney. Communication means not only does your attorney promptly answer questions you have and keeps you informed of current case proceedings, but also how comfortable are you interacting with them. To ensure that your attorney has the most complete information you will need to be very candid on issues ranging from finances to ongoing relationships. If you are not comfortable opening up to an attorney about some of these issues, it is likely a sign that a particular attorney is not a good fit for you personally.