Most couples will choose a lawyer to represent them in a divorce. Even if your divorce is amicable, you would be wise to use the services of a lawyer to prepare and file necessary paperwork. Additionally, it is best to retain your own counsel who will look out for your individual interests, particularly:
- …if there are unresolved custody issues,
- …if there are major disagreements about property, or
- …if one spouse dominates the marriage or is intimidating or abusive.
What to Look for in a Good Divorce Lawyer
Choose a lawyer who specializes in family law. You want someone guiding you who has an intimate knowledge and experience in divorce law. He’ll be up-to-date on changes in the law, tax ramifications, custody plans, mediation, the personalities of judges, and how best to present your case. Your county bar association can give you the names of several competent lawyers in your area. You might also ask for referrals from recently divorced friends, your therapist, accountant, or other lawyers.
Schedule an appointment with two or three different attorneys. Many offer a free or very low cost one hour general consultation. If a lawyer charges an initial consultation fee, this may be a good thing as you often get what you pay for when there is no cost. Explain your circumstances and concerns and see how you feel about the answers you receive. But, be wary of those who will simply tell you what they think you want to hear. You want a lawyer who knows the law, treats you respectfully, takes time to explain the process, and fully answers all your questions and who tells it to you straight. Here are some questions to ask:
- How much of your practice is in family law and specifically in divorce law?
- How long have you been practicing in this state and what do you do to stay current with new issues?
- How much do you charge and how are fees handled (retainer or hourly) and billed?
- How accessible are you by phone and how are phone calls billed?
- What is the process and how long will it take?
- How do you feel about collaborative divorce and mediation?
- What percentage of your cases are resolved without trial?
Choosing the right lawyer can make all the difference when it comes to a healthy and collaborative divorce. Go with your gut – who makes you feel more comfortable and who would you prefer to work with? Often it may be tempting to go with the lawyer who has the lowest fees; however, cheap does not usually equal good. Also, the lawyers with extremely high rates replete with the big, bad, mean pit bullish and cut throat reputations are often more likely to do more damage in the long run as generally in contested divorce and custody cases nobody wins and the children almost always lose. If you have questions, begin your search for answers by meeting with Attorney Michael A. Mastracci.
MIKE THE LAWYER HELPS GOOD PEOPLE THROUGH BAD TIMES.
Hiring a lawyer should be the first thing you do when encountering any legal matter, not a last resort. Whether you’re thinking about a separation or divorce or have been charged with a crime, been injured in an accident, or your civil rights have been violated, you need to first know your rights and your options. Consulting a lawyer first can actually save you both time and money in the long run.