It finally happened. You and your spouse decided to pull the plug. You’d been unhappy together for years. You saw this moment coming. Nonetheless, the decision to terminate your marriage is still a shock to the system. You’re consumed by a dizzying storm of emotions: grief, anger, disappointment.
And now—at one of the most emotionally turbulent times of your life—you’re expected to collect yourself and make one of the most critical decisions for your future: you have to pick a divorce attorney. Where to even begin? Just the prospect of tackling such a task seems overwhelming.
The good news is, finding a good divorce lawyer doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t need to do in-depth research on a lawyer’s accreditations or the legal seminars they’ve taught. Such things don’t give you insight into how it would actually be to work with that lawyer.
When choosing a lawyer, there are three main qualities that will have a measurable impact on your divorce experience: transparency, guidance and availability.
- Transparency: Ask your lawyer for their fee structure up front. Are some services charged on a flat fee, others by the hour? Do different hourly rates apply for time you spend with paralegals or other attorneys? What is the retainer fee? Finally, what is the lawyer’s estimated cost of the entire case?
- Guidance: A good divorce lawyer should be in it for your best interest—not for their own profit. If certain decisions in your divorce would have a serious impact on your taxes, for example, will your lawyer advise you on this? If taking certain steps or handling certain tasks yourself would save you money in legal fees, will your lawyer offer these options to you?
- Availability: You may think that once you hire a lawyer, they’re 100 percent committed to your case. But how many other cases does your lawyer handle simultaneously? How much time and energy can they dedicate to your case? If you call or email with a question, how quickly can you expect to hear back?
The role of a good divorce lawyer is to make your life easier. Looking for a lawyer with the above traits can greatly increase your chances of having a smooth divorce experience.