How to Choose a Divorce Attorney
It’s a big world (and a big internet) full of lots of opinions from people you know and people you don’t. When making decisions about which divorce attorney is right for you, here are a few things to keep in mind.
A Georgia attorney is state licensed and can therefore represent clients in every county. If you have a referral, start there. If not, weigh whether you’d like representation in an office nearby or if there are other considerations that would widen your search such as preference for male or female counsel or desired experience in specific areas such as complex asset division or custody of special-needs children. Narrow your list to a few attorneys who match your preferences and have a background in handling specifics related to your situation.
Start by scheduling a consultation with your top choice of attorney. Consultations may cost a flat fee or be billed at the hourly rate of the attorney. When time is money, it’s important to come prepared and organized. Don’t go over the top with boxes of financial records that cannot possibly be reviewed and digested at the consultation, but do bring a three-year history of income along with a list of assets and liabilities. Also come ready with any questions you have about the process, no matter how silly they may seem to say out loud. Your goal for a first meeting: find out if you think the two of you will be compatible. Your attorney’s goals: understand pertinent information, look for strengths and weaknesses of the case, and address your questions and concerns.
Relevant Questions to Ask
- How long will this take? (Your attorney can likely give you an estimate for work like drafting agreements or court processing time, but the full length from start to finish will necessarily be unpredictable and highly individualized)
- What’s your retainer and hourly rate?
- What are strengths and weaknesses of my case?
- What is your experience with cases like mine?
- Who else from your office will I work with and how is their time billed?
- How should I tell my spouse I want to get divorced?
- Have you or someone in your office previously worked with the assigned judge or opposing counsel?
- If/when we’re working together, how should I communicate with you when I have questions and concerns?
Beware of attorneys who make sweeping promises concerning the outcome of your case. No attorney can guarantee an outcome or wave a magic wand to fix all your problems. He or she should make you feel supported, protected, and hopeful while being realistic about the merits of your case. Attorneys who make sweeping promises or agree with everything you say are most likely trying to make a sale instead of looking out for your best interests.