When two people stand at the altar and exchange vows, the last thing on their minds is the possibility of splitting up. However, as the years pass, the reality of divorce lingers in the air. Despite the rate of divorce falling over the years, the fact of the matter is that many marriages still don’t make it.
If you yourself are looking to make that very big step to end your marriage, you may feel overwhelmed so as to where to start. A divorce can be messy, complicated, and extremely emotionally draining.
Hiring a divorce attorney is an essential part of the divorce process, but it’s one that is often overlooked by many. What do you need to know about hiring an attorney prior to your divorce getting underway? Read on and we’ll walk you through everything that you need to know.
What Does a Divorce Attorney Do?
A divorce can be a tricky legal situation to be in on top of all the other baggage and emotional troubles that come with the uncoupling of a marriage. There is a lot to untie and sort through when two people untangle their lives from one another.
Matters of money and property must be worked out, for one, but there’s also the challenge of custody as it pertains to children. This is where things can get especially ugly.
A divorce attorney will serve as a person’s guide through the tangled web of problems that a divorce can bring along. An experienced divorce attorney will have handled hundreds of marriages just like yours and will know the steps needed to get through to the other side.
There are many different elements a divorce attorney may be able to aid you with.
Deciding Grounds for Divorce
Before a divorce can proceed, the person bringing the divorce forward must give a proper reason for why the divorce is being requested to begin with. If you’re the individual initiating the divorce, you’ll need to work with your attorney to make this happen.
Different states have different laws when it comes to establishing grounds for divorce. Some states still require fault-based grounds for an immediate divorce to take place.
Fault-based issues would be things such as adultery, abuse, incarceration, and so forth.
While all states do allow for non-fault grounds to be brought forward, there are some states that require partners to live separately for a period of time before a no-fault divorce can legally be brought forward.
If you’re hiring a divorce attorney, the first thing you’ll probably speak to them about is what grounds you have to end the marriage.
They will be able to advise you as to which reasons you should put in front of the court. They’ll also be able to walk you through what evidence you might need to provide later on as a result.
Property Division & Spousal Support
There’s a lot to be determined in the splitting of two former partners. An attorney can help to negotiate with the other party and come to a compromise as to how assets from the marriage should be split up.
Having the lawyers discuss these matters can help the two former partners avoid heated confrontation after heated confrontation.
An experienced divorce lawyer will be able to explain to you the typical way in which property is split up after the dissolution of marriage. State laws regarding the distribution of property new and old will vary location by location.
As such, you’ll need to rely on your attorney to walk you through your rights as they pertain to your property.
An attorney will also be able to determine whether you or your spouse are entitled to some kind of financial support from the other. If one spouse makes a significant amount more than the other, they might be required to make payments for some time following the divorce.
If it can be argued one spouse sacrificed their career to boost the other’s, spousal support payments might be in the cards. This can be difficult to determine and will require the aid of an experienced attorney to come to a conclusion.
These costs can really add up over the years so it’s important to take this subject matter quite seriously.
Child Custody Matters
The most heated and important of all divorce subjects is the matter of child custody. This is where having a strong divorce attorney by your side can really make a massive difference.
There are a lot of different configurations that might be possible between the two parents of a child. One parent may be granted visitation rights or may be shut out entirely from a child’s life.
It can take a lot of work, evidence building, and careful strategizing in order to win custody of a child. Your attorney will be able to tell you how likely it is to win custody and will help build a case to make this so.
If it doesn’t look like custody is in the cards, they will build a case to get the best possible outcome in terms of visitation rights. This is often where the other party can be the most brutal, so it’s important to have a strong attorney who will be willing to stand up and fight for you as a parent.
How To Find the Right Divorce Lawyer
Now that you understand all the important ways in which a divorce attorney can help you during a difficult time, you’ve probably turned your mind towards how to hire one.
You’ll naturally want the best and brightest for your case, but if you’re new to working with attorneys you might be unsure of how to find this person. You might not be completely certain how to identify them, even.
What kind of traits should you look out for?
Experience is the major one. The longer an attorney has been practicing, the more equipped they’ll be to handle whatever arises with your case. You’ll also want to make sure that the attorney in question specializes in divorces.
That means their workload should all be divorce cases, not a mix of other areas of law. You want someone who is honed in and focused on divorce law. That way, you’ll get an expert on the matters you’ll be involved in.
There are many ways to get connected with the best divorce attorney in your area. The easiest method might be to work through your own network.
If you have friends or family members that have gone through a divorce, it can be worth it to reach out and see what attorney they worked with. Ask them about their experience and if they would recommend working with the attorney in question.
For a majority of Americans, this is still the best way to find quality service.
If they had a great experience with their lawyer, there’s a good chance that your experience will be similar. They’ll be able to connect you and the whole process can be quite easy.
Even if you don’t know anyone personally who has gone through a divorce, your friends and family might be able to connect you with someone who has.
If you really can’t find someone, the state bar office might be able to provide you with a list of highly reputable divorce lawyers.
Sitting Down With An Attorney
Once you’ve been connected with a few attorneys that might be worth hiring for your case, you’ll need to sit down discuss the matter with them. This can be a vital part of the process.
What questions should you ask before hiring a divorce attorney? The initial consultation is a time for the lawyer to learn about your case, but it’s also your opportunity to feel out the attorney and see if they feel like a good match for you.
Whether in person or on the phone, you should inquire about their experience and specialization within the confines of family law. It’s a good idea to try to get a handle on what kind of client they typically represent. The closest that client is to you, the better.
You’ll obviously want to inquire about their rates as well. Most divorce attorneys charge by the hour and ask for a fee to be paid in advance. This fee is known as a retainer.
If an attorney is obviously out of your ability to afford them, it’s best to move on and see who else might be a match for your case. An experienced attorney is not likely to come down on their rate for you.
During your consultation, try to learn as much about the legal realities of your case as possible. This is a free opportunity to get all of your questions answered, so make good use of it.
See how likely this attorney thinks it is to get the outcome from the divorce that you desire. See what they think the major obstacles will be.
Looking for Red Flags
When you speak with an attorney, note not just their answers but how well they are able to communicate these matters to you.
You’ll be spending a great deal of time and relying a lot on this individual. It’s important that the communication between the two of you is clear and that you feel as if you can get along.
If red flags arise: if they seem uninterested in your case, seem to lack patience, or aren’t able to articulate things in a way you can understand? It might be best to move on and see someone else.
Look for other signs of trouble that could cause problems down the line. Does the attorney seem to have trouble giving you their full attention during your consultation? They probably will have the same trouble later on as they handle your case.
Do they seem disrespectful when talking about their former clients? Do they divulge information that seems as if it should really be confidential? That’s another red flag and a sign you might be treated without care in the future as well.
While this divorce may be a huge aspect of your life, it’s a business transaction for many attorneys. You need to look and find who is actually going to take a human interest in your case.
Making a Final Decision
It’s a good idea to sit down and have a consultation with at least three divorce attorneys prior to hiring someone for your case. This will allow you to get a true sense of what is out there and possible.
It will allow you to compare and contrast not just rates but personalities and approaches. What might not seem initially like poor care to you might be more clear as such once you sit down with a truly empathetic and communicative attorney.
At the end of the day, you’ll need to go with your gut and truly believe in your choice. Divorce is a highly difficult process and quite emotional. Hiring someone who you feel as if you can really trust and believe in is one of the only possible ways to make the process a little more manageable.
While it can be hard to find someone with the proper mix of experience, care, and affordability, it is possible. You just need to put your determination in place and keep looking.
How Do I Find The Best Divorce Lawyer?
A divorce can be one of the most difficult experiences a person goes through in their life. It’s not fun to break up a marriage or a family, but it does happen and it’s important to be as prepared as possible.
The above information can help you understand the ins and outs of hiring a divorce attorney during this difficult time.
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