How to Hire a Divorce Lawyer STAFF PICK

Posted almost 6 years ago. Applies to California, 14 helpful votes

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1

I'm Thinking about a Divorce: What Do I Do Now?

Developing a plan of action for handling your divorce is not all that hard to do. Sit down with a pad of paper and list the issues that you feel you will be dealing with during the divorce. The major issues are: child custody, child support, spousal support (alimony) and property division. Do you and your soon-to-be ex spouse agree on any of these issues? The more you agree upon the less there is to fight about, and the less there is to fight about, the less costly the process will be, both financially and emotionally. On the issues where you have agreement, write down in simple and clear terms exactly what you and your spouse agree on. Don't leave anything out; if you wonder whether or not a detail is important, it is.

2

Should I Hire an Attorney Or Should I Go it Alone?

If you are financially able to afford an attorney, you will almost always be better served by hiring a professional to represent your interests than by trying to do it yourself. This has nothing to do with your ability to learn the information and procedures needed to present your case. Indeed, many attorneys who find they getting a divorce do not represent themselves, not even the divorce attorneys.

3

I Don't Know Anything about Attorneys. What Kind of Attorney Should I Hire?

Most people spend more time buying a new car than they do picking out an attorney to represent them in one of the most emotionally trying and difficult times of their lives. You should first gather up all the information and personal referrals you can from friends, family, co-workers and other people who went through the same thing that you are about to go through and who were happy with their attorney. Next, research and review the qualifications of attorneys in your area on the Internet. Then, go out and interview lawyers. Make sure the attorney practices in the area of Family Law. Be aware that some lawyers these days advertise themselves as being the "best lawyer" or "super lawyers," but these self-aggrandizing titles have the potential of creating an unjustified expectation about results the lawyer can achieve.

4

Should I Go to War with My Ex-Spouse?

A divorce should not be a war. The quickest way to burn through your savings, your children's college funds, all of your assets, and everything that you have worked so hard for throughout your life, is to go to war with your spouse. It is such an easy thing to do; many good and decent people are drawn into that without even realizing what is happening. It is said that criminal lawyers see bad people at their best and family lawyers see good people at their worst. Don't be one of the good people who end up behaving "at your worst." Nobody will win, except the attorneys.

5

What Is a Certified Family Law Specialist?

Not every family law attorney is a Certified Family Law Specialist, and depending on the complexity of your case, you may not always need a specialist. Certification requires extensive education and experience in the field of family law. In California, to become certified as a Family Law Specialist by the Board of Certification of the state Bar of California, a lawyer must pass a second specialized bar examination in the subject area. They must demonstrate that they have a certain level of experience handling a sufficient number of family law cases with varying degrees of complexity. It normally takes years of family law practice for an attorney to acquire the experience of the various types of family law cases required by the Board of legal specialization. Theuy must also undergo a positive peer review process and maintain a minimum number of hours of continuing education in the family law field.

6

What Can I Expect at the First Meeting with the Lawyer?

This initial consultation gives you both the opportunity to screen and evaluate one another. You need to have a sense of trust and confidence in the attorney. Don't be afraid to ask questions: Where did you go to school? How long have you been practicing this kind of law? Do you know my spouse? Do you know my spouse's attorney? How many of these cases (like yours) have you handled? Do you have any specialties or specializations? What percentage of your practice is devoted to family law? How many family law cases have you taken to trial? How many have you won? (As a point of personal observation, be wary of the attorney who says he or she has never lost a case. That usually means they are not taking very many of them to trial). Have you ever been sued for malpractice and, if so, why? Has anyone ever filed a complaint against you with the state bar?

7

What Should I Expect Regarding Fees?

This initial consultation gives you both the opportunity to screen and evaluate one another. You need to have a sense of trust and confidence in the attorney. Don't be afraid to ask questions: Where did you go to school? How long have you been practicing this kind of law? Do you know my spouse? Do you know my spouse's attorney? How many of these cases (like yours) have you handled? Do you have any specialties or specializations? What percentage of your practice is devoted to family law? How many family law cases have you taken to trial? How many have you won? (As a point of personal observation, be wary of the attorney who says he or she has never lost a case. That usually means they are not taking very many of them to trial). Have you ever been sued for malpractice and, if so, why? Has anyone ever filed a complaint against you with the state bar?

Additional Resources

To review the complete edition of the popular publication "How to Hire a Divorce Lawyer And Save Money: The Inside Scoop From Family Lawyers" written by divorce lawyers Marshall and Mary Ellen Waller, click on the link below:

How To Hire A Divorce Lawyer and Save Money Too

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