Navigating a legal separation can be a stressful time. People navigating this process often hire an attorney to guide them through it, but even the prospect of finding the right attorney can be a stressful addition to an already stressful time. Hiring an attorney for your legal separation doesn’t have to be daunting, however, especially if you know what to expect. To help you navigate this process, here are 5 common things to expect when hiring a divorce attorney.
1. Do a Little Independent Research
The first step to finding the right legal representation for your situation is to know what your options are. Start by finding out who is available in your community or the community in which the proceedings will be taking place: by making a list of divorce attorneys in Sugar Land, TX, for example.
A little time spent researching your options now will go a long way toward helping you feel confident that you have made the right decision when the time comes. Take the time to explore attorneys’ websites and look through any information available online for attorneys specializing in divorce and separations in your community. Think about what is important to you and use this research to create a shortlist of the attorneys that you want to take to the next step.
2. Interview Potential Attorneys
When making a decision like this, spending some one-on-one time talking to potential attorneys is essential. Expect to call or sit down with the attorneys that most interested you during your research. This is a chance for you to ask some important questions to find out if this attorney is right for you and your situation. These questions should help you get the essential information about fees, attorney experience, values, and strategy.
Different factors will weigh into this decision differently, depending on the individual. There are a few essential points to consider when making your choice. These include the attorney’s costs and approach to legal separation cases: Are their fees within your range? What is their track record with divorce cases similar to yours? Did you feel comfortable speaking with this attorney?
3. Communicate Honestly and Set Clear Expectations With Your Attorney
Once you have chosen your attorney, your first few meetings with them are going to be important for clearly stating how you want to proceed and what kind of process you are hoping to have. You will likely have a sense of your chosen attorney’s values and practices from your earlier consultation, but now is the time to prepare a thorough list of what you want to know and what you want them to know.
For example, one important question that many individuals will work out with their attorneys early on is whether you are hoping to settle via mediation in the courtroom or a more collaborative approach. What are your expectations regarding finances, childcare, and shared property? Knowing that these topics will come up, and preparing a list for yourself as to what you want to ask for and discuss, will help you feel more prepared in your first meetings.
4. Be Upfront With Your Attorney About Costs and Fees
While the real value of having the right legal representation for your divorce proceedings often extends beyond the financial cost, it is important to be aware of what the fees and estimated cost of hiring an attorney for your separation are going to be. Hiring an attorney can be an expensive endeavor, and the final cost will vary dramatically depending on the situation but having an upfront conversation about this with your attorney is a must.
An attorney that is honest and open about what they expect their services will cost you is an attorney that you can trust to communicate honestly with you while you are working together. Ask for (and expect) a formal contract and retainer agreement with all fees clearly stated, as well as clarification on what hourly fees will be after the retainer fees have been used.
5. Ensure You Feel Comfortable With Your Attorney
The bottom line is that you deserve to feel comfortable with the attorney that you have hired. This includes comfort in terms of their approach to practicing family law, in terms of their fees, and in terms of how they make you feel when you are meeting with them. As a most basic expectation, you should feel that you can communicate honestly and that you are being heard when you discuss the proceedings with your attorney.
Knowing what to expect, and preparing accordingly, can reduce the stress that many individuals feel when hiring an effective attorney for their divorce proceedings. Feeling confident in your decision is crucial. Ensuring that you are doing your research, meeting one-on-one with potential attorneys, asking the right questions, and communicating honestly with them will go a long way towards making sure you feel comfortable and confident with your choice.