When it comes to securing a divorce lawyer, the phrase, “My momma told me, you better shop around,” is absolutely befitting. One of first keys to finding a suitable divorce lawyer is, knowing what to look for. In this session, we’ll provide you with that vital information.
The second key is educating yourself; this means learning what to expect, (i.e., The Typical Steps to Divorce, The Six Paths To Divorce and the Divorce Lingo). The last thing you want to do is blindly enter into divorce proceedings. That’s like going scuba diving for the first time and yet, you know nothing about: buoyancy control, oxygen toxicity, decompression sickness, sharks or the bends! Needless to say, you could get into trouble. You need to be informed about the divorce process for your own protection.
The third key is researching all potential suitors. In legal terms, this is called performing your “Due diligence.” We cover this issue in steps two and three; let’s take the first step.
F.R.I.E.N.D. Find, Research, Interview, Escape Clause, Negotiate and Designate
Step One – Find a Divorce lawyer
At the minimum, you have these available sources to help you find a divorce lawyer.
It doesn’t matter where you start: online searches, newspaper ads, the local yellow pages, referrals or your State Bar Association, the point here is to locate potential divorce attorneys to handle your case and go to step two, the research phase.
Step Two – Research a Divorce Lawyer
To research means to perform a diligent and systematic inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover facts. When it comes to a choosing a divorce attorney, you’ll need to start by checking their standing with the local State Bar Association, and the Lawyer Disciplinary Agencies Directory. Scratch any divorce lawyer who is not part of their local bar and/or has disciplinary issues.
Next, you want to make sure that their focus is divorce and family law; don’t take a chance with attorneys who are jack-of-all-trades. Meaning, they practice everything from: criminal law, bankruptcy, family law, to, DUI’s, workman’s comp, etc. You want a divorce specialist; nothing less will suffice. The lawyers who pass the first two tests are ready for you to proceed with an interview.
Step Three – Interview a Divorce Lawyer
An interview is defined as: a formal meeting in which a person(s) questions, consults, or evaluates another person and/or company. This step involves meeting with and thoroughly assessing a potential divorce attorney. You’ll need to interview several divorce lawyers, (at least 3, but 5 is better) prior to making a decision. We’ve provided you with a list of: Questions To Ask A Divorce Lawyer. Use out list as if your life depends on it, because your case does!
Step Four – Divorce Lawyer Escape Clause
Any good, honest, ethical attorney will advise you never to enter into an agreement with a divorce lawyer or any lawyer for that matter without knowing what your escape clause is. Certain contracts specify that even if you fire a lawyer, he or she is still entitled to full compensation. That’s why you need to have this issue spelled out in writing, in the “attorney – client agreement” that you sign. Our caveat, “Make sure you know how to fire your lawyer; before you hire him.”
Step Five – Negotiate With a Divorce Lawyer
To negotiate means: to confer with another or others in order to come to terms or reach an agreement. Since fees vary dramatically, (ranging from under $100 per hour to over $750 per hour) you want to know the attorney’s hourly rate and see their comprehensive fee schedule up front. This information helps you to make an informed decision whether to hire or not hire. Bear in mind that no divorce lawyer will be able to accurately quote a fee without performing some preliminary research and investigation.
Step Six – Designate a Divorce Lawyer
To designate means: to appoint, nominate or select for a duty, office, purpose, etc. Once you have gone through the first five steps and feel satisfied with your selection, its time to seal the deal, by letting the selected attorney know and signing the fee agreement. At that point, your newly retained divorce attorney will want to meet with you soon thereafter. As a gesture of courtesy, you should call the divorce lawyers you did not hire and inform them you won’t require their services.