Divorce Homework: How to Find the Right Lawyer for You

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Divorce is incredibly stressful. It's best to have a good plan to defer to when you're at wit's end.

Divorce is among the most stressful experiences in people’s lives. Unfortunately, stress tends to compromise your ability to make intelligent decisions, such as choosing the best divorce attorney. You can make the right decision, even if you’re stressed, but you need to have a plan. What are the elements of a smart plan for choosing your ideal divorce lawyer? Here are five that are essential:

1. Start As Early As Possible

Don’t wait until thelast minute. There’s nothing wrong with hoping that the situation will improve and that your marriage can be saved. However, once a divorce appears imminent, you should begin meeting with prospective lawyers. This will give you the time you need to assess each lawyer’s abilities and your comfort level with him or her.

2. Assess Your Needs

Ask yourself what you’re trying to accomplish. If your relationship with your spouse is still fairly amicable, you might benefit from an uncontested divorce or divorce mediation. If your relationship has become contentious, you’ll need a lawyer who will fight for you. Are the issuessimple or complex? It’s relatively easy to find a competent lawyer when your affairs are uncomplicated. If there will be issues involving child support or alimony, you’ll need a lawyer with substantial experience in these areas.

3. Do Your Research

A web search for “divorce attorneys” will give you a lot of leads, but this scattershot approach usually falls short. One of the best ways to narrow your search is through word of mouth. You probably have friends and relatives who have gone through a divorce. Ask them about their experience. You can also get good recommendations from other lawyers, therapists and financial advisers.

4. Interview Before You Hire

After you've compiled a list of prospective lawyers, interview each one. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions, including questions about cost and retainers. Find out who in the firm will represent you, how much experience that lawyer has with divorce cases in addition to how successful he or she has been in settling cases.

5. Trust Your Gut

Don’t be afraid to trust your instincts. What’s your comfort level with the attorney? Does he or she really listen to you? Equally important, do you get the impression the lawyer only tell you what you want to hear or are they willing to give you the bad news along with the good? Divorce is never easy but the right attorney will simplify the process for you. Make sure you get the best attorney by having a solid plan and sticking to it.Photo Credit: ian munroe via Flickr.Powered by Scripted.com

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