Divorce Attorneys: Everything You Need to Know About Finding, Hiring, and Working With a Divorce Lawyer

Shelly Bohorquez  | 

If your marriage is coming to an end, you will likely have a lot of questions about what the future holds. Divorcing your spouse is no easy task, and in this challenging time, it’s important to have people you can count on to get you through it. Depending on the climate of your divorce, finding the right person to represent you is a key task in getting what you want out of the divorce; but before you know who to look for, you’ll need to know what you’re looking for.

Family and Divorce Lawyers: What’s the Difference?

There are a few key differences between family and divorce lawyers, and in order to have a successful divorce, it’s important to pick the right one for your situation. Divorces hold many long term consequences, so do your research in order to hire the right person for the job.

What Does a Family Lawyer Do?

Family lawyers specialize in a broad range of family matters, including: marriage, divorce, adoption, child custody, spousal support, domestic abuse, grandparents rights, and all other family related matters. Handling this wide range of topics means that their day-to-day responsibilities vary greatly. If your divorce is uncontested and uncomplicated, a general family lawyer may be able to meet your needs and be better for your budget. However, if you expect to argue with your spouse about child custody or division of property, a divorce lawyer may be better equipped to handle your situation.

What Does a Divorce Attorney Do?

Divorce attorneys specialize in civil law, and are trained to handle many different aspects of a divorce, such as marriage annulment, legal separation, child custody, child support, and visitation rights. These subjects have the ability to complicate matters quickly, which is why divorce attorneys are recommended when these issues arise. Their experience helps them understand how to handle these situations, and when the matter you’re fighting over is the custody of a child, it’s important to hire someone who knows what they’re doing.

How To Find a Divorce Lawyer

In order to find the right divorce lawyer for your specific situation, you’ll need to consider your relationship with your spouse and how you expect the divorce to go. If possible, collaborative divorce is the best way to go, as it will keep you and your spouse from paying limbs in attorney fees. However, if this isn’t possible, it’s important to interview at least a few lawyers to ensure you hire someone who is going to be able to handle your divorce in a way that works for you.

Gender Specialist Attorneys

Gender specialist attorneys are a type of divorce lawyer who specialize in representing primarily men or primarily women in the courtroom. A gender specialist attorney often claims that the court will discriminate against the gender they represent, and that their approach is prepared to combat that discrimination. This is a mostly innocuous ploy, however; the best lawyers often represent both men and women, and don’t advertise their ability to combat discrimination, as recognizing and battling any discrimination that arises is simply a part of the job.

How To Hire a Divorce Lawyer

Divorce lawyers get paid based on the trust they’re able to establish with clients, which means whether or not they’re confident about how to handle your case, they’ll usually try to convince you they’re the best person for the job. Therefore, before you hire anyone, take your time and interview at least a few potential candidates before you choose one. Most lawyers offer free consultations, so prepare a few questions and give them some details on your divorce so they can tell you how they plan to handle your case. After hearing a few different approaches and getting a feel for the positive and negative qualities of each, you will hopefully have clear indication of who is going to be the most attentive and prepared to meet your needs.

What To Ask a Divorce Lawyer

What They Charge

When meeting a divorce lawyer for a consultation interview, you should be prepared with the questions you’d like them to answer. One of the most important inquiries for a lot of divorcees is in regards to the cost of divorce. Divorce attorneys often charge between $100 and $200 per hour, which causes divorces to become very expensive very quickly. Some lawyers charge a set rate for each portion of the divorce case, which may or may not be more affordable than an hourly rate. Most lawyers should be able to give you a ballpark estimate of what you can expect to spend throughout the entire divorce, so ask each lawyer about this and take it into consideration.

Legal Experience

When seeking out a divorce attorney, experience should play a key factor in who you hire. During your consultation, ask the lawyer about their credentials, as well as about their success rate in cases similar to yours. More experience often means they know what they’re doing and won’t take as long to get through each segment of the divorce. This also means that they will be able to handle the case and will do so with little interruption to your life. Some attorneys may need a lot of communication with you or very little, so gauge whether you and your lawyer want the same amount of contact throughout the divorce, as judgement on the divorce case can often take several months to finalize.

Their Approach

Ask your potential divorce lawyer about their approach to settlements and mediation. While it’s good to have a lawyer who will fight for you, it’s also important to hire someone who is level headed and willing to compromise to get the most equitable outcome. Divorce mediation has the potential to save you thousands of dollars, as court battles over property and custody are the segments of divorce that can drastically inflate the overall cost. Remember to ask your lawyer about state laws, such as community property laws, in order to discuss how they will affect your case and to further discuss their approach.

Divorce can be a long and draining process, but hiring the right attorney has potential to take a lot of the weight and stress of the case off your shoulders. There are many ways divorce can affect you financially and emotionally, so you need to find a divorce attorney who you will feel comfortable communicating with during this time. Taking your time in hiring the best divorce attorney for your situation will hopefully result in a positive experience throughout your divorce, and will leave you with the best consequences possible.


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This post was updated August 6, 2018. It was originally published August 4, 2018.