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Choosing the Right Attorney to Represent You in Your Divorce

Who you choose to represent you in your divorce can be critical to the outcome. It is important to choose a reputable attorney that not only has expertise in divorce and custody matters, but one that is the right fit for you and your unique circumstances. 

Factors To Consider When Selecting A Family Law Attorney

Personal Referrals

The best way to begin your search for a reputable family law attorney is to seek referrals from trusted sources. Friends, family members and professionals you work with, such as your certified public accountant, financial advisor or other attorneys, may be able to recommend an excellent family lawyer who may be the right fit for you and your divorce.

Online Information

Research recommended attorneys online to ensure they truly concentrate in family law and divorce, which is a specialized area of the law, and to view what past clients have said about them. A thorough review of an attorney’s or law firm’s website may allow you to gauge how the attorney approaches divorce and whether they have expertise in the non-adversarial options of collaborative divorce and mediation in addition to traditional litigation. Your online research may also reveal whether the attorney is well-versed in highly complex financial or custody matters that may apply to your case.

Communication and Compatibility

If you have identified an attorney who appears to be a good fit, schedule an initial consultation. This meeting should give you a good idea of whether you would feel comfortable working with this person. Effective communication is of paramount importance in a client-attorney relationship. Everyone has their own communication style, and you want to work with an attorney who will communicate with you clearly and constructively, listening to you, advising you, and keeping you informed every step of the way. The divorce process isn’t just court appearances; much of the process is working behind the scenes with your attorney. You want someone who you can rely on to serve as a trusted advisor for various matters, such as how you should interact with your coparent or talk to your children about the divorce. You need an attorney with whom you will feel comfortable sharing personal information, whose judgment you trust, and whose values align with your own. You need to feel confident working with this person as a partner as you make decisions that will have long-ranging impacts on your children and your financials. Pay attention to how you feel, and trust your instincts.   

Hourly Rates and Other Costs

During your initial consultation, inquire about how you will be billed for the attorney’s services, and how much you will be charged. Ask about the hourly rate of the attorney as well as other individuals who may work on your case, such as other lawyers, paralegals and staff, and possible experts that may need to be pulled in, such as an appraiser, accountant, psychologist or others. Inquire about court fees and any other costs that would apply. Different firms have different fee structures, and it’s important to get a complete picture upfront so you can make an honest assessment about whether the attorney or firm is the right fit for you financially.  

Come Prepared to Discuss the Specifics

Come to your initial consultation prepared to discuss the specifics of your family and financial circumstances as well as your financial and custody goals. Know your bank account and retirement account balances, how much equity you have in your home, and details about other valuable assets that you and your spouse may own; bring applicable financial documents with you. Also, if your children have specific needs, whether medical, psychological, or educational, that may impact custody and the parenting plan, coming prepared to discuss these matters will allow you to have a more specific conversation to more accurately assess whether the attorney is a good fit for you. 

Is Your Attorney Financially Savvy?  

If your divorce will include complex financial matters, ensure your attorney has demonstrated experience handling those issues. For instance, if your matter involves business interests, complicated compensation structures or trusts, you need an attorney who has the skills and experience to understand these issues, knows which experts to involve in your case, and knows how to resolve these matters, whether through negotiation or litigation.

Is Your Attorney Technologically Savvy? 

Working with a technologically savvy attorney and law firm is important for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it makes your dealings with the firm more efficient, which will save time and money. Also, a high-tech law firm will have a better understanding and command of the technical resources that are available for discovery of financial documents and information needed to understand the whole financial picture and to help support your case. 

Is Your Attorney Resourceful? 

Resourcefulness, creative thinking and problem-solving skills are essential in divorce and family cases. Unexpected problems often arise, requiring innovative solutions. A resourceful lawyer who is strong at problem-solving will be adept at navigating changing circumstances in the courtroom or generating creative options when negotiating a settlement. You can get a feel for whether your attorney is a creative thinker at your initial consultation. A creative problem-solver will gather various information and tackle issues in a holistic way. For instance, when deciding whether you can keep your house, various factors must be considered. You need to know how much equity is in the house, how your spouse will get his or her equity out of the house, how much it costs to live in the house, if there will be enough cash flow for you to remain in the house, and, if so, how you want to spend that cash flow. In short, whether you can remain in your house is not a silo issue, and a creative problem-solver will work to find a solution that meets your goals while taking all relevant factors into consideration. 

The Takeaway

Choosing an attorney that is compatible with you and that has the expertise to represent you in your matter will give you the best chance at a successful outcome. More than your legal representative, your family law attorney will serve as a trusted advisor and advocate while guiding you through a challenging, life-changing transition.   

The family law attorneys at Ruel Ruel Burns Feldman & Britt serve as trusted advisors and represent clients in divorce – in the conference room and courtroom – and appeals in Connecticut. If you are considering a divorce or seeking a modification or appeal of your divorce or child custody orders, contact our family law attorneys at 860-206-9096 or online.