According to the U.N., the U.S. is ranked third among countries with the highest divorce rate globally. The rate of divorce is 4.34 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants. This means that there are about 800,000 divorces in the U.S annually.
Divorce is not only emotionally draining but is also financially challenging. The process of divorce can be complicated and lengthy, particularly if the couple has minor children or significant assets. This is why choosing a divorce attorney is an important decision.
A divorce attorney can help you navigate the legal process, protect your interests, and advocate on your behalf. But with so many divorce lawyers to choose from, how do you choose the right one?
Here is a complete guide to choosing a divorce attorney, with everything you need to know.
Define Your Needs
What type of divorce are you seeking? Are you and your spouse in agreement about the terms of the divorce?
If you and your spouse are on good terms, you may be able to file for an uncontested divorce. This is when both parties agree to the terms of the divorce without going to court. An uncontested divorce is usually quicker and cheaper than a contested divorce.
If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement, you will need to file for a contested divorce. This is when the terms of the divorce are decided by a judge in court.
You should also consider whether you want to file for a no-fault or fault-based divorce. A no-fault divorce is when the marriage is ended without either party being held responsible. This is the most common type of divorce.
A fault-based divorce is when one party is held responsible for the divorce. This could be due to infidelity, abuse, or desertion.
You will also need to decide whether you want to file for a legal separation or divorce. A legal separation is when the couple remains married but lives apart. This could be for religious reasons or if the couple is not ready to divorce.
It’s important to understand the difference between these types of divorce so that you can choose the right one for your needs.
Understand the Different Types of Divorce Attorneys
Not all divorce attorneys are created equal. There are different types of divorce attorneys, and each one has their own specialty.
You will need to decide whether you want to hire a mediator, collaborative lawyer, or traditional lawyer.
A mediator is a neutral third party who helps the couple come to an agreement on the terms of the divorce. This is a good option for couples who want to avoid going to court.
A collaborative lawyer is a lawyer who represents both parties in the divorce. The lawyers work together to come to an agreement on the terms of the divorce outside of court.
A traditional lawyer represents only one party in the divorce. This option is usually more expensive and can be more adversarial than other options.
You will also need to decide whether you want to hire a local attorney or an out-of-state attorney. If your divorce is going to be contested, it’s usually best to hire a local attorney who is familiar with the laws in your state.
However, if you are seeking a mediator or collaborative lawyer, you may be able to find an attorney outside of your state.
Research Potential Attorneys
Now that you know what type of divorce and attorney you want, it’s time to research potential attorneys. Start by asking friends and family if they have any recommendations.
Chances are, they know someone who has gone through a divorce and can give you some insight that will help you survive the divorce process. They will also help you understand the lawyer’s strengths and weaknesses and how they handle clients.
If you don’t have any recommendations, you can also look online for attorneys in your area. Write down a list of potential attorneys and start researching more about each one.
Check References and Reviews
An attorney’s references and reviews give you a unique insight into their abilities. Checking with the local bar association can give you a sense of an attorney’s experience and whether they have had any disciplinary problems.
You can also read online reviews on their sites or third-party review sites. However, it’s recommended to take reviews with a grain of salt since some may be fake. The best way to get a sense of an attorney’s abilities is to speak with them directly.
Level of Experience
Before settling on an attorney, ensure they have ample divorce case experience handling cases similar to yours. This will give you a better chance at success and put your mind at ease knowing they know what they’re doing.
You can check for this by looking for references or reviews from past clients or by asking the attorney how many cases they’ve taken on that are similar to yours.
You can also check their website to determine how long they’ve been in business. If an attorney has been in business for over five years, they’re likely to have handled many cases.
However, you shouldn’t necessarily rule out newer attorneys. They may have fresh ideas and perspectives that could work in your favor.
Check Their Fees
When choosing a divorce attorney, you need to know their fees and how they structure their billing. Some attorneys charge by the hour, while others charge a flat fee. Some may also charge a retainer fee.
You need to know how much you can afford to spend on an attorney and then find one whose fees fit within your budget. It is important to get this information upfront to avoid surprises later on.
When you are comparing attorney fees, also ask about payment options. Some attorneys may be willing to work out a payment plan or take payments in installments. This can help make the attorney more affordable.
Finally, don’t be afraid to negotiate with an attorney. If you feel like their fees are too high, you can always try to negotiate a lower rate. Many attorneys are willing to work with their clients on their fees.
Now You Know What to Look for When Choosing a Divorce Attorney
When it comes to something as important as your divorce, you want to make sure you have the best attorney possible.
By following the tips in this guide, you can be sure you’re choosing a divorce attorney that is right for your case. With the right attorney by your side, you can survive the divorce process and come out on the other side successfully.
If you are going through a divorce and need an attorney, Cook & Tolley can help. We have experience handling all types of divorce cases and can provide you with the representation you need. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
Cook & Tolley, LLP
304 E Washington St
Athens, GA 30601