Take Control Blog

Impartiality and Experience Matter

I own an imported car, which I really enjoy driving even if the maintenance can be a bit much at times. Having work done on the car is not something I take lightly, not only due to the cost but also due to the value I place on my car. For any work done on the car, I want it done right and at a fair price. So, it’s no coincidence that selecting a qualified mechanic matters a lot to me.

As I’ve pointed out many times before, divorce is likely the biggest negotiation of your life. As such, finding, selecting and working with divorce professionals must be something not taken lightly. Make the wrong choice or go with “someone my sister used” is a formula for disaster.

In selecting a mechanic, first, I talk to friends who really know about cars. You know, those guys that live and breathe cars. There are the type of people that value cars and those that work on them. After this, I interview the mechanic and check references. Oh and by the way, I check out more than one referral.

Family and friends always have the best of intentions. But chances are that unless they’ve been divorced multiple times, they are not experts at divorce. So unlike asking for referrals from a car guy, turning to close friends for attorney referrals is usually not a great idea.

Let’s say you or your spouse each hires an attorney. And one or both of these attorneys believes in “winning at all cost”. Or, you pick an attorney based on a referral from a wealthy friend who told you, “She is the very best—did a great job for me and is well worth the price.”

What do you think will happen?

Exactly! Your divorce may end up being very adversarial and cost more than you imagined. That’s why you should pick professionals that fit your desires, personality, mindset and pocketbook.

For starters, getting at least two referrals is a good place to start. Interview each before selecting one. Keep in mind that most attorneys charge for an initial consultation. So when scheduling a consolation, ask if there will be a charge and how much. Ask for references of present and past clients. If you are not happy with the referrals provided, as for more.

To make it a good working relationship, your attorney’s temperament and personality should be compatible with yours. Get a feel as to whether the attorney likes to litigate or is good at settling cases. Nurturing? Aggressive? You need to feel comfortable discussing even the most intimate and important matters with your attorney.

The attorney’s fees should match the complexity of your divorce and ability to pay. Know not only the attorney’s billing rate, but that of their support staff as well. Are there set prices for certain things? For instance, they might offer a fixed price for the preparation of a financial affidavit.

The attorney must give you confidence that you will get the attention required. So, consider the size of the firm. Larger firms can be more expensive, but they have more resources and attorneys who can support your case. With smaller firms, you could receive more attention. But, are you at the mercy of your attorney and workload of cases? Get to know your attorney’s paralegal assistant–you will work closely with this person.

Finally, make sure your attorney is an expert in family law. Like any other field, experience and who you know really matters. I would never let a non-specialized mechanic work on my car, and you should never, ever let a generalist attorney work on your divorce.