How to Choose a Divorce Attorney

Choosing to end your marriage is a difficult decision.  The relationship you began with love and hope for the future is ending and you must now face a multitude of new and unfamiliar decisions.  You will need to make changes to your living arrangements, determine how to divide the property you and your spouse have acquired, and make accommodations for your children.  When you are facing a divorce, you need a qualified attorney to walk you through each step of a complicated process and ensure that your future is secure.  Each family’s needs are unique and your attorney must be one who can equip you with the information necessary for you to make the best decisions.  

Remember that a divorce proceeding is a lawsuit.  One spouse is suing the other in order to dissolve the marriage partnership.  In the eyes of the law, this partnership is not unlike a business partnership.  Both are formed under the jurisdiction of the state and can only be terminated by the state.  The documents required to file for divorce are complicated and full of unfamiliar terminology.  In addition, a divorce is a highly emotional process with many pitfalls.  While representing one’s self in a divorce case is allowed by the court, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the twists and turns inherent in the process.  A qualified divorce lawyer can evaluate your unique situation, make recommendations and ensure that your needs are satisfied and your concerns are addressed.  

The first step in selecting an attorney to represent you as you file for divorce is to determine what you need to accomplish.  Will your divorce be a simple agreement with your spouse to part ways or do you need to untangle complex property ownership and child custody responsibility?  Each additional facet of your situation will require a lawyer with the specific knowledge and skills to properly advise you in how to proceed.  Once you have determined what your needs are in your divorce, you can begin building a list of potential attorneys.  If you have friends or family who have successfully completed divorce proceedings, ask them for a recommendation.  Be sure to find out what they liked and did not like about their attorney.  When you have narrowed your list of potential attorneys down to 3 or 4, you can begin reviewing each more carefully.  

  •          Check out the Web site for their firm, noting any special credentials or expertise they have in their field.
  •          Review any articles written by or about your potential lawyer.  Read any quotes that they may have made to other publications.  Think about whether the views that they are expressing agree with your own.
  •          Contact your state bar association and inquire as to your potential lawyer’s standing with them. 

Once you have selected a lawyer, you should provide them as much information about your situation as possible.  This information will help the lawyer represent your unique needs and concerns in the divorce proceedings.  By disclosing as much information as possible up-front, you ensure that the process will not be unduly delayed.  You should prepare for meeting with your lawyer by collecting all of your pertinent financial records.  These records include tax returns, pay statements, and investment reports.  You should also gather all ownership records for you and your spouse’s personal property.  Make copies of all important documents to turn over to your lawyer.  Conclude your preparations by preparing a list of your questions about the divorce process.  You may want to use this first meeting to outline a timeline for your case.  This will ensure that you are able to meet all deadlines set by the court and that your case is closed in a minimal amount of time.