Breaking up is difficult enough. To compound matters, properties have to be divided, custody of children decided, and alimony have to be paid. This process can be made as difficult or as manageable as the lawyer you choose; finding a good divorce attorney could make or further break the arrangement.
But how to find a competent lawyer you are comfortable working with but can deliver desired results? Choose wisely, but go with the lawyer who makes you feel comfortable, in the same way that you would want to feel comfortable with the surgeon who’s about to change your life. Of course, you would want your lawyer to champion your cause. But do you really want a lawyer who’s aggressive to the point of agitating you to take drastic steps when diplomatic measures will do? Perhaps not. Below is a helpful checklist of how to proceed with choosing a good divorce lawyer:
Look for a lawyer who specializes in divorce. Going back to the surgeon analogy, you would want a neurosurgeon to operate on you if you were diagnosed with a brain tumor. By extension, you would want a lawyer who focuses his or her practice and sharpens his or her skill set in the category you need services for. The law, like medicine, is such a vast and immense field that sub-sub-specialties are possible. In fact, good lawyers in general, like good doctors, would refer you to a specialist in case you come to them with a specific concern they don’t currently cover.
Find a lawyer who has an extensive divorce portfolio in your state. Ideally, you would want a divorce lawyer who has been practicing for at least a few years, and specifically, practicing and licensed in your state. Divorce laws differ from state to state, so a lawyer who is experienced in the workings of the local judicial system will work to your advantage. An excellent divorce lawyer from Florida who has recently relocated to New York may not be up to speed with the latter’s processes, procedures and divorce legislations.
Opt for a divorce lawyer who can settle a case in and out of the court. Sometimes, it will save you and your spouse money, time and emotional distress if you all just agree to an amicable settlement without the benefit of a judge. A good divorce lawyer should also be an excellent mediator, but somebody who is ready to get tough when the situation demands it. You may want to steer clear of overly aggressive divorce lawyers who want to get everything for you and rob your spouse of every last cent. You would want a lawyer who is fair but firm.
Go for a divorce lawyer whose personality you like. Often, the lawyer with the most success is the lawyer with the least number of trusted friends. In courtroom, as in life, personality is key. Choose the lawyer who naturally shares your philosophies and values, especially family values. Although you are in an uncomfortable situation where you need to compromise your family values by breaking the family, all hope is not lost with a lawyer who sincerely understands you and your spouse’s needs, taking into account the effect of divorce on your children. The right divorce lawyer may in fact end up a lawyer you won’t need because he was able to convince both parties to a peace agreement.
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