Hiring a divorce attorney is one of the most dreadful things one can think of — next to going to the dentist! It’s something no married couple wants to ever consider, but when the day comes, and that decision is front of you, – you better do your research. Hiring a divorce lawyer, is important – but what’s more important is knowing what you want.
For example – are you truly looking for a divorce, are you at that stage? Or are you simply looking for some form of mediation, and want to try and patch things up? Too often couples go right for the “D word,” instead of trying to fix their relationship, or at least try. Many times, couples counseling can assist with relieving mixed emotions, which need to be discussed and resolved. But, if you find that counseling isn’t cutting it, then a divorce, or at the very least separation, might be necessary.
First and foremost, avoid a “DIY” divorce kit. Rarely do those kits take into account everything under the sun, such as assets, property, child support, alimony, etc, and frequently an attorney is needed afterwards to fix the mess caused by the “DIY kit.” In states such as New York, a “no fault” divorce is allowed. This is true for other states as well. In order to qualify, though, you have to be legally separated from your spouse for at least 1 year. If you are, then under the guidelines of New York state, you can get a divorce that is “no fault.” Before this, the only way to get a divorce would be if one of the spouses was cheating on the other, etc.
Once you decide you need a divorce attorney, consider looking at places like Google places, and AVVO – for reviews. Generally speaking, you should consider working with an attorney who has many reviews on these places. It’s potentially easy for an attorney to manipulate these review portals, but if they have a large number of reviews, it’s likely they are trustworthy.
See if the lawyer offers a risk free consultation, and take advantage of it. Ask for references, and case studies of other couples. Generally speaking, an experienced divorce lawyer should be able to cite other cases similar to your own, from his years of experience. If he can’t, you should be careful, and assume he may not be the most qualified to help you. Another factor to consider is the size of his/her law firm. Generally smaller law firms may not be able to provide an adequate level of attention if they have too many clients. Ask the lawyer if you’ll be dealing with him, or his paralegal. Generally, cheaper law firms will take the easy way out, and assign you to a paralegal. This may result in you and your needs not being properly expressed, or represented.
About The Author
Jason Goldman is a lawyer at Raiser & Kenniff, PC, the premier NYC divorce lawyers, with over 40 years of combined experience.