What are Divorce Lawyers?
Divorce lawyers are attorneys who specialize in the divorce law in the state in which they practice. They represent clients who want to dissolve their marriages as well as people who want to file for a legal separation or an annulment.
Divorce lawyers can practice as part of a divorce or family law firm. They can also be independent practitioners of divorce law in the state. The typical divorce attorney not only can help you file divorce papers but help you secure a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order if you are the victim of domestic violence. Your divorce lawyer can likewise advise you on the divorce process when it comes to the separation of marital assets, petitioning for alimony or spousal maintenance, or requesting child support.
The specifics of this area of family law can be complex and subject to change in the state in which you live. When you are not well-versed in how to file for a restraining order or how to get a divorce according to the laws of your state, you need a competent attorney to represent you. A lawyer can better your chances at getting the outcome in court you want and to also give you the foundation on which you can build a brighter and happier future.
However, if you are not familiar with the divorce lawyers who practice in your state, you might need some advice on why you should retain a divorce lawyer and how you can determine which divorce lawyers deserve more of your consideration than others. You can get the divorce process started faster and file for a legal separation or a full dissolution of your marriage by first learning about some of the key reasons why people in your situation generally choose to retain legal counsel before heading to court.
What to Look for in Divorce Lawyers
Before you put an attorney on retainer, you should learn what qualifications to look for that all good divorce lawyers should possess. These credentials demonstrate the proper level of professional training and also a readiness to take on your case and win in court.
First, you should consider the amount of experience a lawyer has in this field as well as representing clients in general. You may not want to bank the success of your case on a novice or someone who is newly graduated from law school. Rather, you may get a better outcome by retaining the services of someone who has been in practice for several years if not longer and has ample experience filing divorce papers, requesting restraining order assistance from the local court, and can provide sound advice on every step of how to get a divorce in your state.
Likewise, you should consider divorce lawyers who are easy to talk to and put you at as much ease as possible with the case. You should immediately feel confident in this person’s abilities to be empathetic to you as a client and also sense that the attorney wants the best outcome for you.
Finally, you want an attorney who is affordable and can price the services within your budget. You do not want to retain a lawyer who is too expensive and could put you in debt after the case is decided.
You can vet the best divorce lawyers in your area and hire one who meets all of these criteria by knowing what measures to use in your search. You should also prepare a list of questions to ask during the initial consultation. Once you have all of your information, you can then decide which attorney will be your best ally and asset during the dissolution or separation process.
Locating the Best Attorney
Chances are that you know at least one person who has retained the services of a local divorce attorney. With the rate for divorces in the U.S. holding steady at 50%, many people in the country today cannot help but have a loose connection to one if not several divorce lawyers in your city or state.
With that, your best option for choosing from the divorce lawyers in your city may be to ask someone you know for advice. Your friends, family members, or co-workers may all be able to point you in the direction of a lawyer who is empathetic, affordable, and available right now.
If you have no one to ask for such advice, however, your next best option might be to look online. You can find a slew of lawyer review websites dedicated to critiquing the services, pricing, and availability of lawyers in all specialties in your city and state.
Based on what past clients have said about the attorneys in your area, you can decide which ones might be worth your time and effort and what ones would probably be too expensive or not on par with your expectations.
Finally, you can use local resources like the state bar, legal aid societies, the library, or even the nearest law university to ask for help. These agencies typically keep updated lists of lawyers who practice in this area of law. They also typically provide referrals for free or for a minimal cost.
Once you make up a list of prospective lawyers to interview, your next step should involve making up a list of questions you want to ask them during the initial consultation. The questions can give you a clearer picture of what kinds of services you can expect as a client.
Questions to Ask the Attorney
Most attorneys regardless of the specialty in which they practice offer free consultations with prospective clients. During this first meeting, you will have the chance to go into more detail about your situation and what kinds of outcomes you hope to achieve in the courtroom. You can also learn what kind of resource the attorney might be as you go through the legal process.
You can discover the attorney’s readiness to help you as a client by asking the right questions during the meeting. Some of the important questions that you should consider asking during that initial meet and greet session include:
- What percentage of your practice is dedicated to filing for divorces, separations, or annulments?
- What are your retainer and schedule of hourly fees?
- How long have you been in practice?
- How will you communicate with me during the case?
- How quickly will you return my phone calls and emails?
- Who will do most of the work on the case? Will it be you or your paralegals and assistants?
- What strategy will you use to help me get the best outcome in court?
These questions put the attorney on the spot immediately and compel him or her to go into specifics about the kind of representation you will receive as a client. While they may be somewhat forward and even assertive, they are critical in helping you get the services for which you have paid and expect in return from your lawyer. In fact, good lawyers expect clients to ask these kinds of questions and are ready to answer them confidently and thoroughly.
Divorce lawyers specialize in a unique area of family law and assist clients who are ready to end their marriages. They may also have issues regarding custody of minor children, the division of marital assets, protection from abuse, and requests for support or maintenance during and after the proceedings.
The laws regarding divorces vary per state and can be complex if not nearly impossible for the typical lay person to understand. You have every right to represent yourself in court. However, when your case goes beyond a simple open-and-shut matter, you may find it best to retain legal counsel to walk you through the process.
During the process, you also get full advocacy, advice, and protection from risks that otherwise could compromise your finances and safety. Your lawyer can file for restraining orders or PFAs if you are the victim of domestic violence. You also may get to stay in the marital home and retain custody of your children until the case is settled in full.
However, if you have never before retained a lawyer, you may not know what kinds of professional credentials to look for in the ideal counsel. Rather than choose one at random, you can get better advice and help by asking for input from people you love and trust. You may know or be related to someone who has used legal services for such purposes in the past.
You have to do your fair amount of research in addition to asking people for advice and help, however. You can go to your initial meeting with the lawyer by knowing what questions to ask and what kinds of answers to expect in return. Based on the answers you get during that meeting, you can decide whether or not to put the attorney on retainer or to continue your search for legal representation for you and your case before you head to court.