You are getting divorced—now what? How do you find the divorce lawyer that is right for you? You undoubtedly have many questions and concerns, ranging from what will happen to my children to how much it will cost. It is very important to have the guidance of a skilled and supportive divorce lawyer to help you through the process. Here are a few questions that you need to ask before you hire an attorney:
1. Is your divorce lawyer an expert in their field?
First and foremost, you must choose a lawyer who is knowledgeable and experienced. Similar to doctors, lawyers often have specialties and specific areas of practice. Divorce law is a subspecialty that involves complex legal principles and case law. Make sure you do your homework and understand the attorney’s qualifications and experience. In New Jersey, one way to make certain that your divorce lawyer is a specialist is to see if he or she is designated by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a Certified Matrimonial Attorney, a certification achieved by only 2% of attorneys in New Jersey. This certification ensures that your divorce lawyer is a true specialist in their field and has the experience and knowledge to provide effective representation. This is especially important if your case involves complex property division issues or a child custody dispute. Check review sites to see what others think about the attorney you are about to hire. Don’t hesitate to ask whether the attorney is a Certified Matrimonial Attorney or whether divorce is their specialty.
2. Does your divorce lawyer understand and support your specific goals?
A divorce case involves more than just ending a marriage. Divorce lawyers have to understand every aspect of divorce, including child custody, property division, and support. It is important that you and your divorce lawyer are working together to achieve your goals. Perhaps your main concern is custody of your children or maybe your goal is to stay in the marital home. For example, someone with a very aggressive approach might not be your style if you are amicable with your soon-to-be-ex. Make certain that your attorney understands and supports your goals and develops a strategy to meet those goals. Don’t hesitate to ask whether your divorce lawyer will support your goals.
3. Is your divorce lawyer compassionate and understanding?
Divorce is a life-changing event and you have to be comfortable sharing personal information with any attorney you hire. Divorce is different from a business transaction or a real estate closing. You may be required to share personal and sensitive information about yourself, your children, or your family with any divorce lawyer you hire so make certain you are comfortable with your attorney. You should ask your lawyer whether they have experience with the special circumstances in your divorce and learn what he or she will bring to the table. Don’t hesitate to ask whether your divorce lawyer will be understanding and patient.
4. Is your divorce lawyer responsive to your questions and inquiries?
The number one complaint most people have with their divorce lawyers is that they are not responsive—that they do not return telephone calls or provide timely responses to emails or that they do not know what is happening in their case. This leads to misunderstandings and resentment within the attorney/client relationship. Your divorce lawyer should return all communications within 24 hours and should personally, or via a staff member, keep you informed every step of the way. Your lawyer must make certain your questions are answered and you are kept up to date on Court dates, settlement conferences, and other events throughout your case. Don’t hesitate to ask whether your divorce lawyer has a policy on communication and helpful staff to lend support.
Selecting a divorce lawyer to help you through a divorce is a big choice. You need to trust them, communicate well and understand their legal advice.