If you are beginning your divorce process, you may want to consider hiring a divorce attorney. Once you make the decision to work with an attorney, you will want to consider what to look for to know if they are a good fit for you and the demands of your case.
Can I represent myself in my divorce?
Technically, yes. Representing yourself in your own case is called being pro se, which literally translates to “for oneself”.
It is tempting to handle your divorce on your own to save some money, and the forms are readily available through most counties’ websites. One important thing to remember, however, is that the court will hold you to meeting their expectations as though you went to law school.
You need to hire a divorce attorney.
- The process is very personal for you. While your attorney cares about you and what happens with your family, they are not as emotionally invested in the process and outcome as you are. This allows them to maintain some level of objectivity.
- The legal system is complicated. Attorneys have experience in these types of situations, know procedure and appropriate strategy to use, and have courtroom decorum and often familiarity with the court staff handling your case.
- Your spouse has hired an attorney. Without hiring your own, you stand to be outmatched by an experienced professional. With what is at stake, it’s best not to take on an attorney on your own. If you are served with paperwork by your spouse’s attorney, consult with a divorce attorney as soon as possible.
You have choices when hiring a divorce attorney. Use the following to know if the firm you are consulting with is right for you.
Question to ask: What percentage of the firm’s business is spent in domestic relations or juvenile court?
Why: It is important to hire an attorney who is very familiar with the requirements of those courts and can employ a variety of strategies to address your unique needs.
- Ease of Communication
Questions to ask yourself: What was your experience with communicating with the intake team? How easy was it to schedule with the attorney? At what level were you prepared for your consultation?
Why: How the support team at a family law firm communicates with you and connects you with the attorney is an important indicator of what it will be like when you hire the firm. Make sure that you feel comfortable and prepared as you initiate your relationship with the attorney and the entire firm.
- Client Testimonials
Question to ask: How do your current and past clients feel about you and your services?
Why: The way the attorney prepares you for and guides you through this difficult time is highly important. Focus on reviews from clients that speak to what is important to you and your case. Keep in mind that the attorney cannot control all facets of a case and much of the process might feel drawn out and frustrating. Look critically at the negative reviews to see if the frustration lies more with the process than the law firm.
Questions to ask: What is the initial retainer? What are the attorney’s and their support staff’s hourly rates? How often can I see an accounting off work that was done? How do you request or bill for additional retainer fees?
Why: For obvious reasons, knowing what your attorney will charge you up front and how far that retainer will stretch is important. Digging deeper and understanding how you will be able to keep track of the cost of work, how much work, and in what increments they bill will save you some future frustration. In the likely event your case is not concluded within the initial retainer, knowing how they go about procuring additional funds can help you plan appropriately. Some firms will automatically charge a card you keep on file while others will make requests in advance, allowing you to budget.
- Your Comfort Level with the Attorney
Question to ask yourself: What is the felt sense you get when you speak to the attorney you are about to hire?
Why: You will end up sharing a lot of personal (and potentially intimate) information with a divorce lawyer, it is important that you perceive them to create a safe space where you feel comfortable disclosing such details.
Very little about the process of divorce is easy. Some of it may not immediately seem fair or straightforward. Hiring a divorce attorney and support team to be in your corner will help you feel more empowered as you embark on such an important period in your life. The attorneys at Trolinger Law Offices can assist you every step of the way. Begin by scheduling a consultation with us- (614) 705-6025.