5 factors to consider when choosing a divorce attorney

When choosing a lawyer, divorcing spouses should consider each attorney’s experience, availability, track record and success.

People preparing for divorce often face various concerns, from minimizing their financial losses to preserving their relationships with their kids. Amidst all of these worries, many people overlook the importance of finding the right divorce attorney. However, choosing a qualified and attentive representative is a critical first step to ensuring that the divorce goes well. Spouses who don't know where to start should consider looking for the following qualities when selecting an attorney.

1. Relevant experience

First, spouses should focus on finding attorneys who primarily practice family law and have local experience. Divorce laws vary significantly by state; for example, unlike most states, Arkansas requires spouses to establish fault for the divorce or live separately for 18 months. To ensure best results, a divorce attorney should have detailed knowledge and experience with these distinct laws.

As an added benefit, The Huffington Post notes that attorneys with local experience will also be more familiar with local family law judges. As a result, these attorneys are usually better equipped to prepare strategically for any necessary litigation over alimony requests, property division or child custody arrangements.

2. Focus and availability

Divorcing spouses should use their initial meetings with prospective attorneys to assess how available and engaged each attorney is. Spouses may want to consider the attorney's caseload and the level of attention that the attorney provides during the consultation. An attorney who seems distracted might not dedicate adequate attention to the case later. Spouses should also evaluate how easy reaching and communication with each attorney will be.

3. Quality of assistance

An attorney's associates and support staff often perform essential duties over the course of a divorce case. Many divorcing spouses may even work largely with these members of the firm. Therefore, before making any commitments, spouses may want to request an opportunity to meet these individuals and assess whether working with them will be feasible.

The Huffington Post suggests that spouses also evaluate whether a divorce attorney is prepared to work with other experts who provide crucial insights during a divorce. For instance, during marital property division, the assistance of forensic accountants and business valuators might be necessary. Spouses may benefit from choosing attorneys who routinely collaborate with these professionals.

4. Accuracy and honesty

According to CNBC, spouses should take note if an attorney makes guarantees or seems to simply be saying what the spouse wants to hear. Ideally, divorcing spouses should hire attorneys who can evaluate the situation accurately and honestly. To find the best representative, spouses should meet with multiple lawyers and request assessments of the case. This can help spouses determine whether any attorneys are being unrealistic or making unlikely promises.

5. Success in litigation

A divorce attorney's record of success in litigated divorce cases is also an important factor to weigh. This is true even for spouses who hope to reach a settlement outside of court, since litigation is almost always a possibility. Spouses should learn how much time an attorney dedicates to litigation and how that litigation typically ends.

People who consider all of these factors should be better prepared to find the right attorney. Although making the optimal choice will require extra time, divorcing spouses should remember that the outcome of the divorce will likely have life-changing impacts. This makes finding the right representation more than worth the effort.