Consulting a Divorce Attorney
It is not unusual for a person to find that they are in need of the services of divorce attorney. However, many people have absolutely no idea what to expect when the do see an attorney about a divorce. With some basic knowledge and a little effort toward preparation, it will be possible to make the most of your meeting with a divorce attorney.
First, before you go see an attorney, and you would be surprised how many people simply overlook this point, you need to make sure that you target and ultimately select the correct attorney. A number of people will be tempted to pull out the phone book and select a name. An examination of any phone book will reveal a multitude of attorneys, many of whom will have paid for larger ads where claims are made toward their expertise in a variety of legal areas. It would be wise to avoid this temptation and use the yellow pages as a method of last resort.
You want to see an attorney that handles primarily divorces and it is uncommon for such attorneys to advertise this in the phone book. You want to have an attorney who knows the domestic court system, who is familiar with the judges and, most importantly, is familiar with domestic issues and how to handle them.
While many attorneys market their firms as being able to handle virtually any issue that arises, the actual practitioners that do focus on divorce rarely advertise this in the phone book. Just because an attorney may be able to find the domestic court does not mean a they can provide their client the best possible representation. Think about going to see a doctor. There are general practitioners and there are specialists. It is common practice for the general practitioner to refer special cases to a specialist that focuses on the patient’s particular need. In the realm of divorces, it will serve a party well to locate an attorney that focuses on divorce. The attorney who focuses on divorce will likely cost more by way of a retainer, but the return for this investment will be great and will save a party immensely in the long run. It is no where more true that in divorce law that you get what you pay for.
This will cause many people concern, especially when they learn the yellow pages are off limits. Many will wonder where they will ever find a divorce attorney. However, it is quite easy. Ask around. Talk to friends that have gone through a divorce, get recommendations. Call the local Clerk of Court and ask for some names of attorneys that regularly appear in the courts. If you know any attorneys, ask them who the domestic attorneys are in the area. Call your local or state bar association and ask them for the names of attorneys that practice mainly family law, or ask them for the membership list of the members of their family law section.
Now that you have your appointment, you need to be prepared for it. First, be prepared to discuss the assets of your marriage, when you acquired them, what they cost, how much they are worth – not what they cost new, but Ebay value. Discuss them all, even if you believe a certain asset to be yours and yours alone. Be prepared to discuss your debt, retirement or investment accounts you have, the specifics of your house, cars and other similar items. Also be prepared to talk about monthly living expenses. If you have documents supporting these issues, bring them. It would also be wise to put together a written monthly budget, both present and, if possible, one showing what it would cost to live without your spouse. It would also be beneficial to prepare a written timeline of your marriage. The attorney will want to know an overview of your marriage – when you were married, jobs, children, etc., and, most importantly, why it is you have decided it necessary to visit with them. The attorney will also ask questions about your marriage, some may be personal, some about your spouse’s conduct, perhaps about your children. The attorney will also ask where you hope to end up after the divorce. These questions will allow the attorney to understand your case and give you the appropriate advice under the law of your jurisdiction. Finally, before your appointment, put together a written list of questions you want the attorney to answer. Many of your questions will be answered as the attorney explains the process to you, but some may not and you want to leave with the answers you need. You will want to make sure to discuss the fee, but you will likely not have to ask this question as the attorney will want to make sure this is covered in detail.
When the appointment is over, you will need to make a decision as to whether you want to hire the attorney. I believe it is wise to visit more than one attorney in order to have a good understanding of the law applicable to your case and to also have exposure to more than one legal professional; however, base this decision on your impressions of the attorney or attorneys you have visited.
The two most important things you can remember are to, first, ask questions. This is your case, you need the answers and need to understand the process. Secondly, and most importantly, before you hire any attorney, make sure you are comfortable with them. This will be the professional that guides you through a very difficult chapter of your life. You need to have faith in and be comfortable with this person. At the end of the day, the right attorney can be the saving grace, just as the wrong attorney can be the anchor that holds you down.
This article is not offered as, nor is it to be construed, as legal advice, nor does it create any relationship, attorney/client or other, between the author and the reader. To obtain any legal advice, consult an attorney licensed to practice law in your state.