How Can I Find the Right Divorce Attorney?

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Divorce Attorney

Divorce looks different for everyone—and no matter where the road ahead takes you, the best thing you can do is have a network of people in your corner. Beyond friends and family, a divorce attorney will help you confidently approach the future (and navigate the more complicated parts of the process). 

Knowing you need a divorce attorney is just step one; now it’s time to find the right match. But with over 1.3 million active and practicing lawyers in the U.S., the search may feel overwhelming. Luckily, there are a few parameters you can use to narrow your search: 

Narrow the Search to Your Jurisdiction 

First and foremost, your attorney should be licensed to practice in your jurisdiction and regularly appear in your local court. This isn’t just a good idea, but a requirement. For example, an attorney in Chicago may not be able to represent you in Roanoke. 

Beyond locality, you should also look for a lawyer familiar with the rules and customs of the court in which you intend to file your divorce petition. Each court or situation may have unique processes, and a knowledgeable attorney can navigate court hearings more effectively. 

Search for Specialized Experience with Divorce Cases 

Only consider attorneys who regularly (or exclusively) handle divorce cases. Divorce law, much like any other specific practice, requires niche knowledge. Any number of issues can arise in divorce (expected or not), and only an experienced attorney will know how to address them. 

It is essential to resolve these issues to ensure how the court divides your property and financial accounts, who receives custody of your children, and your general financial standing once the case ends. It can be challenging to modify these orders later on. 

Filter by Attorneys with New Client Availability 

In some cases, there is an advantage to being the first spouse to file for divorce. Temporary orders affecting custody, possession of the marital home, and spousal support are routinely granted to the spouse who requests them and shows a legal basis for granting them. You lose these advantages if your spouse beats you to the punch. Your attorney should be ready to get to work on your case immediately after you hire them. Make sure that the attorney you contact is actively taking on new clients.

Find a Fee Structure that Meets Your Needs 

Avoid working with an attorney who can’t explain their fee structure to you clearly and easily. Whether they charge a flat rate or by the hour, there shouldn’t be any doubt about what it will cost to hire them to represent you. 

The American Bar Association identifies fee disputes as one of the leading complaints clients file against their lawyers. Such complaints can arise when the lawyer isn’t forthcoming about representation costs. Before hiring an attorney, make sure you fully understand and can afford their fees. 

Don’t Disregard First Impressions 

Ideally, you’ll walk away from the initial meeting with a trustworthy lawyer feeling they heard your concerns and can address them. There will be numerous points in your case where you’ll need to rely on your attorney’s advice and wisdom. If you don’t trust them, you’re setting yourself (and them) up for frustrating interactions and other negative consequences. 

If you don’t believe a particular lawyer truly understands your situation and needs, think twice before retaining them. Instead, look for another legal professional who makes you feel they have your best interests in mind and know how to protect them. 

Take Your Time Finding an Attorney 

Having the right attorney oversee your divorce case can help you protect yourself and reach a satisfactory resolution with your former spouse. Working with the wrong divorce lawyer, on the other hand, can cause you aggravation and potentially jeopardize your legal rights. 

Take your time and carefully consider several attorneys before selecting one that best fits your specific situation. A competent attorney in your jurisdiction who earns your trust is the best choice of divorce advocate you can make—and the best choice you can make for your peace of mind.

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