Separation and Divorce are difficult and stressful experiences –on many levels, including but not limited to emotional and financial. You do not need an attorney to tell you these facts.
What you do need is an attorney who will make the Divorce process as smooth, cost-effective and directed as possible.
Whether you are the one who wants a Divorce or you are the spouse who must face a marriage that is ending, you will want to make sure that this next phase of your life is as secure as it can be. For you, that may mean, for example, appropriate support payments, a certain parenting plan, career flexibility, health insurance, a new home or a retirement account.
There are many moving parts in the Divorce process. However, if you and your lawyer concentrate on establishing your goals and priorities, making a plan and following it, you will have a positive start to your new life.
How do you pick a Divorce attorney? As you begin looking for the Family Lawyer that is right for you, start by asking the following 3 important questions:
What are the most important factors in hiring a Divorce Lawyer?
Answer: There are 6 essential things you should expect from your Divorce lawyer:
1. Excellent Communication. It is essential that your Divorce Lawyer explains the process, initially and every step of the way – in a manner that you understand. You deserve the have your questions, emails and phone calls answered in a timely manner.
2. Inspires Confidence. Your attorney should appear confident and in control –not disorganized and forgetful. You should not have to chase your attorney for updates on your case but rather he or she should let you know immediately when something happens. You should expect timely responses to your emails and your phone calls should be returned promptly.
3. Experience. Your attorney should be well-versed in Family Law and capable of getting the best result possible. He or she should be knowledgeable in all areas of Family Law as well as in the related areas of Business, Contracts and Real Estate. For many reasons, including negotiation and settlement strategy, your attorney must be an accomplished litigator –even if your case never goes to Court. He or she must be able to pivot between different modalities and concepts, never drop the ball, and always keep an eye on the end of the process.
4. Personal Attention. You hired your attorney and he or she should make your case a priority. You do not want an attorney who is so busy that he or she has little time for you and puts off your case for days or even weeks. You deserve to feel your attorney has your best interests at heart. Knowing that your attorney is ready to support you and advocate on your behalf can make even the most complex case less daunting.
5. Respectful of Your Money. No matter what your financial situation, your attorney should be careful with your resources. Your attorney should always give you options and a cost-benefit analysis for each major undertaking in your case.
6. Fearless. Your attorney should not be intimidated by your spouse, the opposing counsel or firm, the prospect of going to court or by any particular judge.
Should you hire a big firm or a small firm?
Answer: Hire the attorney, not the firm.
If you hire a Partner or a Senior Associate, it is likely you will deal infrequently with that attorney. Your case will be passed to an Associate. Since that Associate will likely have no decision making authority, a Partner will review the work. While not every medium to large firm works this way, it is more likely than not that your costs will be higher there than if you work directly with a smaller firm or a solo practitioner — one lawyer who charges a reasonable rate.
A solo practitioner has complete control over his or her practice and can “No Charge” or reduces your rate or makes payment arrangements with you.
If you hire an attorney at large firm, make sure you do not get lost in the shuffle, or receive less attention if your case is one of the firm’s smaller, less lucrative cases.
If you hire a small firm or solo practitioner, make sure he or she is not overwhelmed with other cases and can make yours a priority.
A large firm has more employees. If you hire a small firm or a solo practitioner, make sure your attorney has a plan in place if your case becomes more complicated.
Again, hire the attorney, not the firm. Retain the attorney with who you feel most comfortable and who you believe will work tirelessly for you.
How important to the outcome of my case is the location of my attorney’s office?
Answer: Location should not be the overriding concern. Whether you feel comfortable with the prospective attorney and if he or she can provide you with the six essential things you should expect from whomever you retain, should be the deciding factors.
An experienced lawyer who is also cost-conscious will not ask you to travel to his or her office very often. With all the electronic and virtual methods available, there is no reason for you to have to spend time and money at your lawyer’s office. Therefore, accessibility does not need to take precedence over an attorney with whom you feel comfortable and want to work.
Often Clients are under the assumption that he or she should hire an attorney based in the county where the Client may be filing a Complaint for Divorce. Again, you should pick an attorney based upon how well the attorney communicates with you, if you feel the attorney will make your case a priority, how much experience the attorney has dealing with the issues particular to your case and how clearly the attorney outlines his or her fees and billing practices and if he or she is willing to work with you on managing the fees and costs of Divorce.
You do want an attorney who has practiced in the county where your case will be heard –however that usually has little to do with where an attorney has an office. Most attorneys with substantial experience have practiced in most counties and before most of the Family Court judges. A good attorney knows that strategizing the case based upon the Judge is not a wise move. Further, before you file your case, you do not know who the judge will be. Additionally, the judge may retire or move during the pendency of your case.
Please be aware that some attorneys rent virtual offices for the purpose of advertising the location as a satellite office — and may not really be at all familiar with the town or the Court. Therefore, select an attorney who inspires confidence and do not limit your search to a particular location.
Making the First Call to a Divorce Lawyer
It is not always easy to make the first call to a Divorce and Family Law Attorney. When you call Rose Ellen, she will talk with you over the phone. She will not pressure you to make an appointment. She will answer your questions and will advise, however, that at whatever stage you are, the sooner you come in for a consultation the better she will be able to get you the results you want.
Rose Ellen says:
“I have been practicing law for over 20 years, concentrating in Family Law and the Divorce process. I have worked for both a large firm and now in my own practice. I offer both significant legal expertise in those areas and in Business, Contracts, and Real Estate which are often components of Divorce. I provide you with the invaluable amount of perspective that comes with that amount of time. I encourage you to call or send me an email to make an appointment to discuss your situation.”