Divorce is a very personal and emotional experience. Many people facing divorce don’t know where to turn for help or what they should do first.
The most important thing to remember is that getting a divorce is a legal process with the sole purpose of dissolving your assets and resolving custody issues. To get this done quickly, your best course of action is to hire an attorney specializing in family law.
Finding the right divorce lawyer for your specific situation is the key to moving on with your life. These steps will help you find the divorce attorney that’s right for you.
1. Be realistic.
Your divorce attorney’s job is to represent you to the best of his or her ability in this process. While you may want to vent your anger, frustration, pain and sadness to them – they are not your therapist. Using them in this way is a gross misuse of your time and money. Be realistic about the role of your divorce attorney, and what you can expect from them.
2. Stay focused on the goal.
Your ultimate goal in this process is to get divorced. Don’t let your emotions cloud negotiations over material things that don’t mean much in the big picture. Keep your focus on getting divorced quickly while mitigating financial damage. Ask yourself, what kind of divorce will do that for me?
3. Know what you want.
There are many different types of divorces and different paths that will lead you to same end result. If you aren’t entangled with children or finances, you could hire a mediator to negotiate the terms of your divorce. This is the fastest and cheapest way to get divorced and you may not need to hire an attorney.
If your negotiations involve children, support payments, co-parenting plans and division of assets, you’ll need to hire a divorce lawyer to negotiate a settlement with your spouse’s attorney.
4. Identify at least three potential attorneys.
Identify and interview at least three attorneys who specialize in family law. You need a local attorney who is familiar with the family law judges in your jurisdiction. How do you find potential attorneys? Ask friends/family or other attorneys for recommendations. Research online directories and read client reviews.
5. Interview and research potential attorneys.
Most divorce attorneys provide a free consult, so use this opportunity to ask the following questions:
- Do you practice family law exclusively?
- How long have you been practicing?
- What is your retainer?
- What are your hourly rate and billing terms?
- Approximately how much will my divorce cost?
- What do you think the outcome will be?
- If your spouse has retained a divorce lawyer, ask your prospective lawyer whether he or she knows this lawyer, has worked with him or her before? And is there anything that would prevent them from working against this lawyer?
- Are you willing and able to go to court if this case can’t be settled any other way?
- What percentage of your cases go to trial?
- Approximately how long will this process take?
- What are my rights and my obligations during my divorce?
- Who else at your firm will also work on my case?
- Should I consider divorce mediation?
- What happens now? Next Steps?
6. Make your choice.
The right attorney for you should be:
A good communicator
Puts children first in the legal process
Divorce is a very personal experience. There are no guarantees regarding the outcome. If you follow these steps, you’ll find the right lawyer — who listens to what you want, advises you well and has your best interest at heart.
About Jacquelyn S. Gonz, Attorney At Law
For 27 years, Jackie Gonz has guided clients through complex family law matters. Divorce is a difficult and emotional journey. Jackie’s goal is simple: help people move on with their life. To that end, she provides support and guidance while aggressively fighting for her client’s best interest. If you are facing divorce and don’t know where to turn, Jackie offers help and hope. Give her a call: (573) 207-9603.