Now that the difficult decision has been made to divorce, the time has come to find the right attorney who will guide you through the challenges you are about to face. At a minimum, you need this person to have the knowledge and experience to advise you through this new and emotional time in your life. You want to find a person who exhibits the appropriate level of concern and respect for you, and your family, as you work your way through the decisions involved in getting a divorce and beginning the next phase of your life.
You will need to speak with two or three attorneys in order to get a feel for the various styles and personalities that family lawyers possess. You might ask family or friends for recommendations, but, unless they have been through similar circumstances, it is difficult to select an attorney based solely on someone else’s 2nd or 3rd hand impressions.
Trust yourself enough to engage in a 15-20 minute conversation with each prospective attorney. Give them the highlights of your situation so you can focus on their approach and philosophy about how the divorce process applies to your goals and interests. Read their biography and pay attention to any special qualifications such as the length of time they have been practicing and if they are practitioners of the Collaborative Divorce Process.
Most importantly, do they make you feel comfortable, do they sound like someone you can trust with your innermost concerns and priorities? Does their approach to your situation sound similar to how you now see yourself in this situation? Do they listen or are they in a hurry to talk about themselves and their track record? Be wary of anyone that wants to guarantee you a timeline or a specific result. Every divorce is as unique as the individual getting divorced and the personalities involved, including children regardless of their age. Above all, do they give you a sense of calm and direction while things you are experiencing feel beyond your control.
Divorce is a multi-layered and complex process made even more difficult by the inevitable baggage we all bring to the breakup of a serious relationship. Do you get the sense that the attorney has your best interests at heart and is willing to give you good counsel, even if it may not be what you want to hear at the time? You are not hiring a friend. You are hiring a guide. Select one that fits your temperament and don’t be afraid to change attorneys if they don’t turn out the way you had hoped. After all, this is your divorce, not theirs.