So, you’re in a position where you need to find a divorce lawyer. This seems catastrophic now, but trust us — you’re not alone. A divorce occurs in the US once every 30 seconds. Maybe you and your ex argued over finances weekly. Maybe it was the ever-present “lack of commitment” that one or both of you exhibited as the relationship progressed. Whatever the reason, researching divorce lawyers is not exactly a pleasant experience. And yet, it’s extremely important that you don’t shy away from the research aspect of choosing between many divorce lawyers, as all these lawyers are not created equal. Before you run off and call the first divorce attorney you come across on Google, keep this list of questions in mind as a mental checklist:
1. “Can I articulate the facts of my case accurately and succinctly?”
Divorce cases are highly stressful situations. The urge when describing yours will probably be to get emotional and resort to feelings-based, he-said she-said arguments. However if you want to benefit from a divorce consultation, it’s best to keep your case summary more like a news item, and let the divorce lawyer ask for clarification when needed to build a strategy. Speaking of divorce consultation…
2. “Does the firm offer a free divorce consultation?”
This is one of those common (but not ubiquitous) practices that grew out of divorce lawyers trying to out-bid each other for clients in our free market system. If you’re really having trouble narrowing down your list, this might be a great place to start, as it involves no risk for you and can help give you a sense of where you stand legally in your divorce.
3. “What is this divorce lawyer or firm’s specialization?”
We’re betting you didn’t think you’d have to disaggregate the living nightmare that is a divorce. But many firms that specialize in divorce have different case types they feel most comfortable with. For instance, some divorce lawyers typically represent men, while others more typically represent women. Other firms focus on mediating mostly amicable divorces, while still more are all about the fight-focused divorce suits that feel more like criminal investigations than anything else. During your consultation, it’s fair to ask a little bit about their case history. You want to make sure you’re getting the most tailored representation possible on your budget. Oh, and about budget…
4. “What is my price range, and what are the terms of payment for the lawyer?”
Knowing your budget is important before you seek any good or service, but this factor may be flexible depending on the terms of financing. Some lawyers for example only require payment if they win you money, while others require a retainer payment, payment by the hour, or some other length of time. It is important to understand the terms of your contract and debt to them before making an agreement to do business. You don’t want the stress of bad financing on top of everything else.
Please, if you feel we’ve missed any vital check-list items, put them in the comments below. Give fellow divorcees some support during this difficult time.