How do I pick a Divorce Attorney?

Interview_Divorce_Attorneys

By: Hirsch Serman, MBA, CPA

Divorce attorneys are not a one size fits all.  You need to be quite specific in understanding who you need to represent you and what kind of an outcome you are looking for.  Knowing what is your preferred approach - "kitchen table" negotiations, mediation, collaborative, or court - is important when interviewing your attorney.  In addition, understanding the strengths and experiences of an attorney can go a long way in getting a better outcome and saving money.  Here are some major considerations to explore:

  • Get recommendations
  • Remember: friends have different needs and so their attorney may not be the best for you
  • Research your list (firm website, internet, court records, avvo.com etc.)
  • Prepare for your meeting
    • What are your priorities
    • Have they handled similar cases
    • Compile a list of questions
  • Have an initial consultation
    • Have questions ready
    • Are you happy with how they respond
    • Do they answer your questions
    • Are your priorities important to them
    • Have they ever gone up against your spouse’s attorney
    • What do they say about your spouse’s attorney
    • Do they listen or rush to offer solutions
    • Be honest and share all relevant information
  • Consider the fees (for both primary attorney and assistant) and frequency they would want to meet with you
    • Hourly rates for the primary attorney and the associate
    • Do they pro-rate time (e.g. 15 minute increments)
    • Do they charge for “quick” phone calls
  • How quickly do they return phone calls or emails and can you speak to their associate (this may be cheaper)
  • Consider how they “predict” outcomes – do they promise the world or are they realistic
  • What percentage of their practice is divorce (family law is different) and how many have they handled
  • Can they handle both mediation and court, if necessary
  • Get the attorney’s perspective on what I the most challenging aspect in the case
  • What does the attorney recommend to keep your costs down
  • Based on the discussion, how would the attorney [predict a judge would rule on your case)
  • Are you comfortable with the attorney representing you and do you like their approach

 

Hirsch Serman, MBA, CPA is the founder of Lifecycle Financial, a company that helps those going through Divorce and other life cycle changes to navigate the financial pitfalls of a new life dynamic.  The company was founded through personal experiences in divorce and watching the changes in an aging parent.  He has worked in finance for over 20 years (including financial planning and tax) and has taught on the university level as well as conducted seminars for high school youth on personal finances.  Hirsch is a member of the American Association of Daily Money Managers (AADMM).

INC., DivorcedMoms.com, DivorceMag.com, The Memphis Business Journal, The New Southern, and Funding Sage media outlets have all covered his work in Divorce and Hirsch was selected to be a New Orleans Entrepreneur Week Fellow.  Hirsch has a passion to serve others and has worked with numerous non-profit boards including the United Way and is a Trustee on the Board of Texas College.  Please reach out with any comments to hirsch@lifecycle.financial.

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