Selecting a Lawyer
The first priority for someone considering divorce should be selecting an experienced lawyer. No matter what kind of a divorce or family law situation you are in, you will be spending a lot of time divulging very personal, often emotional information to the person you choose to represent you in your divorce, so it is crucial that your lawyer is someone you trust. Be sure to choose a lawyer who has years of experience in family law, with a good track record and reputation.
Finding a Divorce Lawyer
Chances are you know someone who has been through a divorce. Start by asking trusted family and friends for recommendations. The process can be supplemented with online searches for an attorney that often also have ratings or reviews. Once you have a list of lawyers, schedule an initial consultation with each one. Some law firms offer free initial consultations and others may charge a fee for their time. In the consultation, you can outline your situation and what your goals and expectations are for the divorce. The lawyer can then explain what he or she sees as your options and give advice on a course of action.
Remember that, although this is a first-time consultation, you need to be open and honest about all the details of your situation. It is best to be as thorough as possible in explaining your situation. A lawyer should know information about your intentions for child custody and whether or not there have been any recorded domestic disputes between you and your partner. Everything you say remains confidential, and a lawyer cannot assess your situation or advise you well without knowing all the details of your case, even the ones you consider distasteful or shameful. You should also come to the consultation with a list of questions that will help you gain a better idea of what it would be like to work with this person. A suggested list of questions might include:
- How long have you practiced family law?
- How do you approach new cases?
- How often do you settle cases and what is your approach to settling a case?
- Under what circumstances might my case need to be litigated, and what would that look like?
- What kind of retainer fee do you require up front and is any unused portion of the retainer refundable? How often will I receive an accounting of my retainer?
- Who else will be working with you on my case. What do they charge and can I meet them now?
- What can I do as the client to help my case be more efficient and successful?
Another thing to keep in mind is that any lawyer you consult with, even if you do not end up working together, cannot be hired by your spouse.
Things to Consider When Hiring Your Divorce Lawyer
The number one consideration in hiring a lawyer is comfort level – is this relationship a good fit for both of you? Is there good communication going on or does it feel one-sided? Effective communication is key to receiving effective representation. Does your lawyer listen to you or lecture you? A good lawyer listens to your concerns, answers all your questions, and imbues you with the confidence to speak candidly. A lot of personal information needs to be gone over in depth so you must feel comfortable with the lawyer you choose to represent you.
Almost as crucial a factor is cost and how those costs are relayed to you. A good lawyer will tell you his or her fee structure up front. Do not be afraid to ask for clarification about fees you do not understand. A divorce can be expensive and your lawyer may have options for you to reduce your total cost. Keep in mind, however, that sometimes it may be better to spend a little more money up front to ensure that things are being handled thoroughly, than to have to spend more money later trying to undo or fix prior mistakes.
Lastly, consider the style of the lawyer when choosing representation for your divorce. The tough and aggressive courtroom style we see onscreen may have its place from time to time, but it often is not the most advantageous approach for the majority of divorce cases. Good lawyers work with each other to resolve matters in the best interest of their clients as quickly as possible.
New Jersey Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Provide Compassionate Counsel in a Divorce
At Lyons & Associates, P.C. we know how stressful divorce is, and we will work with you to ensure your interests are protected. We have the knowledge and experience in family law to help achieve your goals during this difficult time. If you are considering a divorce in New Jersey, call us at 908-575-9777 to speak to a Somerville divorce lawyer or contact us online. From our offices in Somerville we serve clients throughout New Jersey including Somerset County, Morris County, Hunterdon County, and Union County.