Choosing a divorce attorney is crucial to success in today's legal system. You will rely on your attorney to provide legal advice, practical advice and in some instances emotional support. Your attorney is your advocate, your voice to your spouse's counsel and to the judge. How should you choose this person?
First, you need to examine your own view and vision of the divorce process. If you have a good relationship with your spouse and want the legal action to end quickly and amicably, you should look for an attorney that is cooperative, non-confrontational and fair. You will most likely have worked through child custody, financial issues and division of assets and will only need your attorney to paper your agreement and present that agreement to the judge.
If however the divorce will not be amicable or you believe your spouse has hired an extremely aggressive attorney, you will need to make sure you hire someone that is more aggressive in order to protect your interests.
All attorneys have taken oaths to uphold the law and are officers of the court. While most lawyers adhere to this promise, some do not. Research several possible attorneys. Try to obtain referrals from other people that you trust. Contact the local bar association.
Divorce attorneys are not permitted by most state laws to accept divorces on a contingency basis. They therefore bill by the hour. Make sure you choose an attorney who will be efficient and not put their desire to increase their billable hours above your well being.
A good attorney will also be honest with you about your choices, even when it is not what you think you want. Often times people are emotional and ask their attorneys to file motions or make arguments because of a desire for revenge. While this can increase billable hours, savvy attorneys recognize that this will not be beneficial in the long run, as the court will not have patience with these types of arguments.
At the end of the day an attorney will provide advice, but unless an action is illegal or unethical will adhere to the wishes of the client. Therefore, mutual trust and respect between an attorney and his/her client is crucial. You will need to hire someone who will not only be interested in your short term results, but also your long term interests.
A good attorney will also try to resolve issues in a clear and concise manner which will hopefully result in a clear court order that will avoid additional, costly and unnecessary hearings.
The divorce process is never easy, however hiring an attorney who is smart, ethical, cooperative, unemotional and committed to successfully resolving your issues will assist you before, during and after your divorce.