Getting divorced can be a very stressful time, both financially and emotionally. Without proper guidance, you may lose more than your marital status, as you may receive an unfair share of your assets as well as lose the rights to see your children. As such, it is very important to have sound legal advice and assistance during these troubling times, which is why finding a divorce attorney that is capable and competent is of utmost importance. Here are some of the things that you should look for when shopping around for a divorce attorney.
What Does a Divorce Attorney Do?
In a nutshell, a divorce attorney is the one that ensures that your divorce and the arrangements that cover it will go as smoothly and as efficiently as possible. They would also ensure that issues such as asset division and custody would be settled in terms that both parties would be amenable to, at the very least.
Things that may be discussed during divorce proceedings include, among others
- Identification of individual and marital properties
- Division of assets i.e. cash, company shares, etc.
- Ownership of properties i.e. house, vehicles, etc.
- Custody of children or pets
- Alimony/child support payments
While most cases of divorce can be done through mediation and settlements, there may be ties where in divorce would be settled through the courts. Here, divorce attorneys must be able to represent their clients in such a way that they can reach an amicable agreement. A trial may also be required to arrange custody of children or ownership of other assets such as homes or businesses. Again, divorce attorneys should try and get what their client asks for and deserves.
While come couples may consider a collaborative divorce, divorce attorneys should also be present to ensure that the agreed upon terms are properly put into writing. They will be the ones that will be responsible for ensuring that all agreements are properly put and writing and would be executed as intended.
What to Look for In a Divorce Attorney?
Your divorce attorney must be knowledgeable in family law. A general practice lawyer or someone that has experience only in corporate law may not be able to provide you with a good service. Divorce attorneys should be familiar not only with family law but as well as policies and regulations of the state or location that you are in. Not only that, but your divorce attorney must also be well-versed in your specific situation, such as when dividing ownership of a company, or when custody issues are at play.
When choosing a divorce attorney, it is advisable to ask not only about the number of cases that they have handled, but also how many they have settled out of court as well as if they have handled cases similar to your situation. This is very important especially if you specific assets that you need to take care of, or if you want to gain something that has an unusual circumstance, such as custody of a child with special needs or a joint account or fund that you have contributed mostly on.
Divorce proceedings can quickly rack up on expenses, especially if the case goes to court. As such, it is very important to find a lawyer that has a balance of expertise and affordability, and you should also make sure that the divorce takes as little time as possible. Spending too much time on trivial matters or, at worst, a losing case will take its toll in several aspects, especially in your finances.
Find a divorce attorney that can provide you with a clear idea of how much you will spend. This will include their hourly rates, retainer fees, appearance fees, and even travel or accommodation expenses. They may also charge you for hours worked by other personnel in their firm that are working on your case, as well as for any emails, messages, or calls that you have made. Some may even ask for a percentage of any assets that you have acquired from the divorce. On the other hand, others may charge only a flat fee based on their expectations of what you will get after the mediation or trial has concluded.
Logically speaking, getting a self-employed divorce attorney or someone that is relatively new in the field will translate to savings. However, this may compromise quality of service. Some areas may also have lawyers that charge lesser fees. In any case, make sure to have your attorney of choice draw up a clear contract for you to review over, and to ensure that the person that you are hiring is within your budget.
Attitude and Style
As your divorce attorney would be representing you in proceedings, you should be aligned when it comes to direction and approach. Your attorney will be the one talking to your soon to be ex-spouse’s lawyer, or even to your ex-partner as well. As such, he should be able to convey your thoughts and wishes properly. He should ask for your opinions as well as give advice of his own, but in no way should he do anything that is against your will.
Your divorce attorney must approach your case professionally but with the right level of aggressiveness. While they are not paid to serve as a marriage counselor or therapist, they must be able to handle your case with the right level of sensitivity and empathy. They should understand that your divorce can be a very trying time for you, and they should do all that they can to prevent any further stress. While lawyers are out there to get a paycheck, their goal must also be for you to get out of this divorce relatively and sane and still financially stable so that you can pick yourself up after the divorce has been finalized.
When looking for a divorce attorney, try and find three and choose one based not only on their credentials but also on their attitude as well. Do not be afraid to ask tough questions that will help you make your decision. Remember that your choice of a divorce attorney will help you make some tough decisions in the coming weeks and months, and you should have a trusted ally on your side that can make things easier for you during the very stressful divorce period.