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It may be obvious, but it's worth stressing that you should not use the same attorney as your spouse -- not only would that be a conflict of interest, but more than likely, you would not receive the best representation. If you have a family member or friend who has gone through the divorce process or if you know someone who has, ask for a referral. If you get a referral, make sure he's a qualified divorce attorney. You want legal counsel who specializes in divorce cases, not just someone who will take your case for free or give you a big discount. It also helps if the attorney has experience representing someone who shares your background or financial situation. Another way to find an attorney is through an Employee Assistance Program, if your employer has such a service. Aside from possibly finding an attorney through this means, you could receive a discount. You also may have access to employer-sponsored legal services, either by joining a legal services program and paying a premium, or by using specified legal providers (where in return, your employer would subsidize all or part of your legal fees). If personal or employer referrals do not pan out, search attorney databases online or turn to your state bar association, which will refer you to a licensed attorney who specializes in divorce law in your area. You can find state and local bar association information at sites such as Romingerlegal.com.
Learning Key Information Before Choosing
Before you choose a divorce attorney, see if a few prospects will meet with you for a consultation at no cost. If so, take a tape recorder with you, as there will be a lot of information to process and you might need to reference it later. Ask the attorneys a series of questions to determine who would be the best for your case. The most important factors to determine would be the extent of the counsel's experience, how much of her practice pertains to divorce and whether she can provide references. It's a plus if an attorney is a member of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, as that means she has practiced law for at least 10 years and devotes three-quarters of her practice to divorce. To get an idea about time frames, ask the attorney how long your divorce will take, what the steps are in the process and who would be handling your case -- the lawyer herself or one of her legal assistants. To see if you can afford her services, ask for a ballpark figure for attorney fees. Seek a written retainer outlining what the attorney agrees to do for your case and highlight any billing increments, filing fees, hourly rates and retainers. While time and money are important, perhaps the most important qualities to consider in your attorney search is comfort and trust. Because you will be sharing a good amount of personal information with your new attorney, it helps if you feel a connection and that you are comfortable divulging the pertinent information she needs to know. If you feel you have found an attorney who's a good match for your case in terms of experience, cost, timeliness and rapport, make sure you share all the information she needs to know so she can fully review your case and start planning proper legal strategy. Find out the best ways to get in touch with her, and make sure she returns calls promptly.