Hiring a divorce attorney takes time. If you have never gone through this process I can assure you that it is not one that you want to rush through only to find that by saving time you ended up selecting an attorney that wasn’t a great fit for you and your family. Instead of guessing at what is important when it comes to interviewing and selecting an attorney the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC have prepared a run-down of what we believe are some of the most important tips and tricks for hiring the right divorce attorney for you and your case.
What do you want in a family law attorney?
This is a pretty open ended piece of advice so I wanted to start off here and build up to more specific pieces of advice. The key phrase that I used in the subject-header for this section may have been one that you glossed over without giving it much thought. “Family law attorney” is what you want to look for when hiring a divorce lawyer. Divorce is a type of family law case that is heard in family law courts, in front of family law judges across Texas. Most counties have courts that hear only family law cases.
This means that you are best served by hiring an attorney who has experience in handling divorces- preferably divorces like yours. “Like yours” can mean anything from a divorce with six kids to a divorce where you and your spouse are worth tens of millions of dollars between the two of you. No two divorces are created equal as I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post.
If you go out into the world and search for an attorney who practices civil law (as opposed to criminal law) you’ll find many, many lawyers who will take every case that walks through their door no matter what amount of experience he or she has in representing clients in those fields. It is a common occurrence that people just like you hire attorneys who have little to no family law/divorce experience based on the lawyer’s assurance that he or she has “done a divorce or two” a few years back. It’s just like riding a bike, right?
Wrong. You are best served by hiring an attorney who has family law and divorce experience. Just like anything else, specific areas of the law call for specific actions, strategy and knowledge. While a general practice attorney may be able to file your divorce, attend hearings with you and help you draft your final orders, the details and nuances of an experienced family law practitioner will not be available for you to take advantage of.
Apply lessons from your own life to hiring an attorney
If you’ve been working at your company for five or ten years then you know how much that you have learned on a year to year basis. Think about what you knew about your job after six months and how much you knew after six years. I’ll bet you could fill a warehouse with the knowledge that you acquired. You could do your job passably after six months but after six years you were likely among the best in your company at doing your job.
The same can be said of attorneys. If your divorce attorney has had six divorce cases in their life then their experience level is limited. That doesn’t mean the lawyer isn’t good at their job or shouldn’t have taken your case. It does mean that you are likely better off having chosen an attorney with 60 divorces on their belt this year alone.
Assess your case and your circumstances honestly
If yours is going to be a contentious divorce then do not fool yourself into thinking that it will be an easy, steady as she goes type of case. If you expect that your spouse is going to come at you hard with the goal of stripping as much property from your side of the ledger as possible you ought to hire an attorney to help you prepare for this and to build a strategy of your own.
Consider your children, their ages, their specific needs and what you believe is best for them. Do you have a special needs child that requires nearly 24/7 aid? What about a particularly bright child that has struggled in standard classroom environments? What about your finances? Do you need to make sure that your spouse’s debts remain with him or her rather than finding their way onto your plate after the divorce is finalized? How are your retirement benefits going to be divided?. These are the type of questions that you need to be asking yourself as you prepare to interview family law attorneys.
Brainstorm goals- big and small
A popular personal finance guru with a national presence will tell you that you can undergo any process, no matter how difficult, if you have a big enough “why”. As in- why are you doing the thing that you are doing. What’s your motivation for sticking it out, sucking it up and going through your divorce? You’re not doing it for fun and games, I can tell you that. You need to develop and articulate your “whys” in the form of goals- both big and small.
If you want to 1) become the primary caretaker of your three children and 2) remain in your home after the divorce you need to make sure your attorney is aware of that. Your goals and your spouse’s goals may not coincide perfectly and may even be contrary to one another. In this type of situation your attorney can prepare you by informing you of just how likely you are to achieve your goals and can help you to understand why.
Your circumstances are unique to you and your family. If you’ve told your divorced friend about a goal and she told you that you were not likely to get something done that may not be the case. Your attorney is there to support you, but also to help you understand what are and what are not realistic goals in your circumstances. With all of this said, let’s transition into our last tip for today’s blog post.
What is your number one goal for your divorce?
Don’t go into a meeting with a divorce attorney before you have considered deeply what your number one goal is. Figure out what is the most important aspect of your divorce is for you. If you have children it will probably be them, but what about your children is most important to you? Do you want to make sure that they can remain in the same school where they’ve grown up? Are you concerned about maintaining their current standard of life? Do you feel like you need to keep your spouse’s time with your children to a minimum due to safety concerns?
Dig down into the nitty gritty of your circumstances and figure out what your number one goal is. If you don’t know this goal before your case starts you are unlikely to have figured it out once your case gets going. The reason for that is there are lots of new distractions that will be coming your way once your divorce begins. Deadlines from the court, updates from your attorney, upset spouses, etc. can cloud your judgment and your mind a great deal. The bottom line is: get a big goal, tell it to yourself and then tell it to your attorney.
Our final bits of tips and tricks will be posted in tomorrow’s blog
Thank you for your time and interest in the topic of hiring a family law attorney for your divorce. If you have any additional questions or need clarification on any subject in the field of family law please contact us today. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with one of our licensed family law attorneys. No case is too big or small for our team of staff and attorneys. We value our relationships with our clients and would be honored to learn more about you, your family and your case.