People have very strong opinions on whether to hire a divorce attorney. One friend may tell you, “Oh I didn’t use an attorney, and it was fine.” Another may say, “My attorney was terrible, the ex got everything!” Don’t let others’ experiences with divorce solely guide your decision when hiring legal counsel for your separation.
Many people think it’ll be easier if they don’t bring lawyers into the picture. They think they can save money, or allow the divorce to be less contentious. But even if you’re going to negotiate directly with your spouse or use a mediator, you still need to double check everything with an attorney. You don’t have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars or drag your spouse into years of litigation, quite the opposite. Double-checking with an attorney can probably save you legal headaches down the road. They can provide more valuable information than you will ever find from google. Guidance on protecting your digital assets, new changes in alimony laws, rights you may not know about or complex processes to avoid.
Every situation is unique. If you have kids or complicated assets, you might need a top shelf divorce attorney. Make sure you have appropriate legal advice any time there is a concern of physical, mental or substance abuse. If there’s a family-owned business or trust involved, things get complicated quickly. However, in many routine cases, you can get terrific representation from a junior partner or associate. With the right plan in place, you should be able to find an attorney you can afford that will weigh in with the appropriate amount of advice needed for your situation.
If you haven’t been involved in your family’s finances because the other spouse handles them, get to know your budget. You will likely need to bring in a financial advisor to help you sort through the bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments, credit cards, mortgages and liabilities. This will help you determine how much you can afford for a divorce attorney.
Use your network of trusted family, friends and coworkers to ask pointed questions about divorce lawyers friends or acquaintances have used. Don’t be afraid to google the attorney’s name to learn more about them. A reputable attorney will likely have a profile on sites like LinkedIn, Martindale Hubbell or Avvo.
Plan to interview a few prospective lawyers to find the right fit. Some attorneys charge a fee for this initial consultation, some don’t. The consultation usually lasts about an hour. Make sure you come prepared with all the information and documentation possible. Most of all, your divorce attorney should be someone you feel comfortable talking to and discussing all aspects of your case with.