In the first edition of the Divorce Survival Guide, we explained the importance of legal guidance during divorce – particularly for men – since family courts often show a bias against them.
A quick Google search for attorneys in your area, however, likely will come up with dozens of results. This can be overwhelming for guys considering divorce, and you may find it difficult to narrow down the playing field to select the lawyer that is right for you.
There are many considerations you will want to think about depending on your situation since the attorneys will all have different levels of experience and skill sets that may or may not be relevant to your case.
Who you trust to represent you in divorce is a major decision, so it is crucial that you put the time and effort into this search to ensure you find the attorney that is best suited to help you find success.
Narrowing your search
A common mistake is to simply pick the first name you come across; however, you are much better off compiling a list of potential attorneys and meeting with them to decide who is the best fit.
The first step in finding the right divorce attorney is to narrow down your search.
Since there will be so many options and advertisements thrown at you ranging from billboards to radio to sponsored web content, it is important to consider a number of factors as you begin to thin down your available options.
Look for attorneys in the jurisdiction of your case — It is fairly common for separated couples to live apart, whether that means in different parts of the state or even across the country.
You need to know where the jurisdiction of the case will be, as laws and procedures will vary, and attorneys are only able to represent you in states where they are licensed.
Make sure they practice solely family law — Many attorneys out there will dabble in a variety of areas of law, such as criminal law, family law, tax law, etc.
These multi-faceted lawyers may have some experience in divorce, but when it is your future on the line, you want to find someone who is highly skilled in the family court system.
This is one area where you really want to find someone proficient in the field as opposed to a jack-of-all-trades who may not be as proficient in family law.
Get referrals from friends — If you know anyone who has gone through divorce, you may be able to get a solid recommendation.
Word-of-mouth is still a very important source of business for successful attorneys and law firms, so you may be able to find an experienced attorney to represent you in your case based off the first-hand referrals of friends, family or co-workers.
Check out reviews — You may be able to find a number of review sources online, such as those offered through AVVO.com.
This may help you determine if an attorney is worth following up, though it should be noted that all divorce cases are different and results cannot be guaranteed.
Take these reviews with a grain of salt, as with all services, dissatisfied customers are far more likely to leave a review than satisfied customers – even if it was not the attorney’s fault things didn’t work out.
Once you have narrowed down your list of potential lawyers to family law attorneys in the local jurisdiction of the case, you can begin to dig into the varying qualities the attorneys possess and what you will need to successfully reach your goals.
Divorce attorney qualities
Just as people in any particular field will have varying skill sets, attorneys are the same way.
Since each divorce is unique, it is important that you find an attorney with an appropriate level of proficiency in the issues that are likely to arise.
Additionally, this may vary depending on whether the divorce is expected to be more contentious or more amicable.
Communication is key — In every divorce, communication between you and your attorneys is essential.
It is a good idea to find an attorney with a reputation for returning calls and emails in a timely manner, as time may be of the essence when critical issues arise.
Finding an attorney or firm that has a specific policy for returning calls or emails is definitely a plus.
Find an attorney who can help you achieve your goals — Depending on your situation, there may be areas of family law that are more or less important than others to what you hope to achieve.
Do you have kids and want equal custody? Then be sure your attorney is skilled in building a custody case. Do you have a business? Be sure you select an attorney who knows the ins and outs of separating business assets.
Attorneys will have different experiences and specialties, even within the family law practice area. Make sure to find one who is fully capable of representing your interests.
Know the attorney’s tendencies — Some attorneys may be known for their preference to sort things out in court, whereas others might have a penchant for crafting unique settlements and compromising without litigation
Depending on how you think your divorce will go, you may want to choose one of these extremes, or you may want to find someone who strikes more of a balance.
It should be noted that litigating a divorce is usually more expensive and takes longer, but that may be unavoidable depending on the mentality of you or your spouse.
Find someone you trust — After you have begun meeting with the potential attorneys on your list, it is important that you remember to trust your gut.
You are about to hire someone who will play a major role in shaping your future. You should feel like the attorney who will represent you in your divorce is taking your case seriously, has the availability to devote the necessary amount of time to your case and has the experience to help you achieve your goals.
While it is easy to just select the first name that pops up when you begin searching for divorce representation, you are much better served meeting with a number of attorneys and picking whoever is best suited to help you meet your specific needs.
Overall, the choice of an attorney is a critical early decision that should not be taken lightly. It may end up costing you far more in the long run if you end up selecting the wrong lawyer to represent you in your divorce.
Mat Camp is a former Lexicon Services Online Editor, who focused on providing a comprehensive look into all aspects of the divorce experience. On MensDivorce.com, he concentrated on issues, such as parenting time, custodial rights, mediation, the division of assets, and so much more.
Mr. Camp used the wealth of experience of Cordell & Cordell attorneys to bring tangible answers to reader questions in Ask a Lawyer articles, as well as offer a step by step process through the divorce experience with Cordell & Cordell Co-Founder and Principal Partner Joseph E. Cordell in Divorce 101: A Guide for Men.
Mr. Camp used thorough research to highlight the challenging reality that those who go through divorce or child custody issues face. He helped foster the continued success of the Men’s Divorce Survival Guide, the Men’s Divorce Podcast, and the Men’s Divorce YouTube series “Attorney Bites.”