Selecting a Divorce Attorney can either make a difficult time less stressful or it can make it worse. There are two types of divorces– divorces that are equitable, where most disputes can be resolved with minimal court intervention, then there is the other type, where almost no decision big or small can be made without the intervention of the Court.
When to Hire a Divorce Attorney
A divorce attorney should be retained at the first moment you suspect you or your spouse may be seriously considering divorce. This does not mean you need to file for divorce but you need to understand what your exposure is and what you need to do to protect yourself should it occur. Not getting an attorney retained quickly enough is a common mistake people make. This doesn’t mean you should stop trying to fix your marriage if it can be fixed. Having an attorney give you best and worst case scenario advice is very different than filing for divorce. If anything, a little common sense from an attorney who has been through hundreds of divorces may help motivate you to fix your marriage. Divorce is not a fun process and when there are children involved the ramifications of divorce will follow you the rest of your life.
Any good divorce attorney will recommend trying to work things out with your spouse first before pursuing divorce. Hopefully you and your spouse are able to work things out and it ends there. If not, you at least have some understanding of the journey ahead from talking with an attorney in advance.
How to Select a Divorce Attorney
Divorce attorneys will typically meet with you for free. This initial visit is where you can evaluate their personality and advice and decide if this is someone you want in your corner throughout this process. You can meet with multiple attorneys to help you decide which one is right for you. You can also meet with their legal team, much of the leg work is done by these unsung heroes.
How Much Does it Cost?
This question is a tough one to answer. A divorce attorney will require a retainer to pay for things when they get started. Think of this as pre-paying for your legal expenses. They will draw against this for both their hourly fee and the various court fees. So really when you are deciding cost, you need to know how much per hour you are going to pay your attorney. The court fees are going to be the same regardless of which lawyer you choose.
The cost of a divorce can swell with the use of outside experts. There are many different types of experts you can employ in your divorce, from forensic accountants to child psychologists. Keep in mind every time you hire an expert you run the risk that your ex will hire a counter expert in a constantly escalating battle. This is not to say there aren’t times when an expert will make the key difference, just be careful.
Divorce Attorney’s Role in a Simple Divorce.
If you find yourself in a divorce where decisions can still be made outside of a Court Room count yourself lucky. In these situations your divorce attorney serves a smaller role. Below is a list of roles he will provide throughout a simple divorce.
There is going to be a lot of paperwork that needs to be filled out correctly and attorneys along with their teams are great at helping you navigate this nightmare without making any major mistakes. People going through the process of divorce are not always in the best emotional state, having someone else manage and navigate paperwork is a tremendous help.
Know what is Negotiable
We all have friends that have different post-divorce situations. Many of these friends are going to have legal advice for you, just remember that different states have different laws. Furthermore, different Judges have different practices. One judge may regularly grant alimony where another rarely considers it. It is invaluable to have someone who is familiar with the Judges and laws to understand where you should focus your limited time and resources. There is no point in gathering evidence to support the fact that you are owed alimony if the Judge who will rule on your case never grants it.
Knowing the Language
Divorce attorneys don’t speak English to each other. At first this is frustrating and hard to follow but there is method to the madness. The structure the U.S. Court system uses to handle disputes is designed to move to the heart of the problem quickly and resolve things fast. Adjusting your arguments and strategy to this language and tactics is critical to maximize your effectiveness in court.
An Experienced Mentor
Divorce attorneys, due to the nature of their business, have been through the divorce process before. They more easily spot patterns and potential future problems before they crop up. They seem to have the amazing ability to predict the future because they’ve been down this road over and over again, even thousands of times. A good divorce attorney will be able to regularly predict how the divorce will unfold– keeping you from being constantly surprised.
An Insurance Policy
If you hire a divorce attorney and everything goes smoothly it’s easy to say you wasted your money. It’s like car insurance, it feels like a waste until you back into a Rolls Royce, then suddenly it was worth every penny. Your divorce may start out smooth and suddenly change very quickly. You may find yourself under investigation for Child Abuse or some other charge. It will be in these moments that you are glad that you did what your attorney told you to do and they are there to take your calls.
A divorce attorney is paid to represent you, but there is a lot of unspoken communication in a court room. If you are following the direction of a good attorney the Judge recognizes it. You may feel like your Attorney is holding you back at times but that could be the best thing they could be doing for you. By showing the Judge you can follow the sound advice of an attorney you are demonstrating that you can also follow his/her sound advice.
Above are the roles your divorce attorney will fill in a smooth divorce. If you are not so lucky, they will still help with these functions, but there may be other situations. Even if you feel things will go smoothly take the times to review these other potential situations so if they occur you’re at least prepared for them.