If you are seeking a divorce, you may be temped to file for divorce on your own using court provided documents or information from a book or website. While a do-it-yourself divorce may be acceptable in some istuations, most people should consider hiring a divorce lawyer to repsernt their interests. How do you choose the right divorce lawyer for you and your family? Here are some steps you can take.
Meet with more than one prosective divorce lawyer and interview them as you would intereview anyone you would hire.
If you do not feel that you like or connect with the divorce lawyer, cross him/her off your list. You will need to work with this person on a matter that is very important in your life. You do not want to work on your life with someone you don't like or have a bad feeling toward. Go with your instincts. When contacting your prosective divorce lawyer, ask if he or she knows the opposing counsel. You don't want to hire a divorce lawyer who has a relationhsip with your opponent. You want to hire someone that has no ties or connections whatsoever (other than a professional relationship) and represent you blindfolded and without prejudice.
If the prospective divorce lawyer does not clearly explain his/her fees, cross him/her off your list
If the divorce lawyer does not clearly explain what his/her fees are, when fees are charged, how and when you must pay fees, and what happens to any money you have paid in advance if you decide to part ways, cross that divorce lawyer off your list. You don't want to add a dispute with your divorce lawyer to your life during this stressful time.
Be prepared with a list of questions when interviewing a prospective divorce lawyer
Be as specific as possible. If you are spoken to in a condescending manner, or made to feel foolish for any question you ask, cross that divorce lawyer off your list. Every client deserves to be treated with courtesy and respect. You need to feel that your divorce lawyer is on your side. The last thing you need is to be insulted, berated or made to feel stupid by someone who is supposed to be supporting you. At the same time however, understand that your divorce lawyer is just that; your divorce lawyer. Your divorce lawyer is not a family therapist, not your psychologist or marriage counselor.
If the divorce lawyer suggests he can help you get revenge, or that he is "a shark", cross that divorce lawyer off your list.
Revenge is expensive when it comes to legal action. It takes time and money -- both of which are contrary to your interests and goals. Getting divorced is about dissolving your marriage in a manner that is equitable under the cirucmstances of the divorcing couple. It is not about revenge or about beating up on the other spouse or his/her divorce lawyer.
If the divorce lawyer suggests that any child of your magrriage can be used as a bargaining chip, cross that divorce lawyer off your list.
If the prospective divorce lawyer suggests that any child of your marriage can be used as a bargaining chip or tool for demanding something else you want from the divorce, cross that divorce lawyer off of your list. This is lacking in integrity and respect for your child(ren). Plus, if it backfires, you could be ithe receipient of a very unexpected outcome in your case.
How promptly does this divorce lawyer respond to your calls? One of the most common complaints from clients about their divorce lawyer is that the divorce lawyer fails to return the client's telephone calls. Test this by calling the divorce lawyer's office a couple of times before hiring him/her. If the divorce laweyer does not return your call within 1-2 business days, cross him/her off your list. Also note whether it is the divorce lawyer him/herself who returned your call or whether that duty was assigned to an associate, a secretary, or paralegal. This is an indication that the divorce lawyer does not have enough time to pay attention to you or your case. At worst, it is disrepsectful and inconsiderate.
Do not hire a divorce lawyer who does little or no divorce work. While some lawyers do a variety of different types of work, your divorce lawyer's little to no divorce experience gives you little to no chance against any experienced divorce lawyer your spouse might hire. Tobie Waxman has over 20 years of experience and devotes 90% of her practice to family law matters including divorce and family law appeals.
Once you've made your choice of which divorce lawyer to hire, there's one more step
Search the divorce lawyer by going to the State Bar's web-site to see if he or she has had any reprimand or license suspentions.
One more tip!
Do not hire your friends or a friend of a family member or a friend of your friend to be your divorce lawyer unless you follow the above list. Give each prospective divorce lawyer the same evaluation. Do not make allowances for connections through friendship or family. If your relationship with the divorce lawyer goes bad, the realtionship with your friend or family member who referred you could go even worse.