California Family Law: How Do I Find a Divorce Lawyer?
For many people thinking about divorce, the question of how to find a divorce lawyer can be as stressful as deciding to get married in the first place, or whether or not to take a job across the country.
It’s no wonder. Divorce will cost you money in the short run – but your future, as well as your children’s future, will also depend on how adept your attorney is with handling you, your spouse and the legal matters.
Here are three factors you should consider when hiring a divorce attorney:
Do you want a “bulldog” divorce lawyer?
Think again. Your attorney should care about you enough to listen to you and then explain your options in an understandable way. You want someone who not only garners respect from you, but also the respect of opposing counsel and judges. If s/he is argumentative or unnecessarily aggressive – that just causes more conflict, which will cost you more money. Most clients prefer a solution-focused advocate.
You’ll also want an attorney you feel comfortable with simply because you’ll need to reveal highly personal information. If you can’t explain your situation fully, the attorney can’t represent you at full capacity.
How much does a divorce cost?
Here in Los Angeles, there’s a full spectrum of fees (usually about $100-800 per hour in Los Angeles, plus expenses) depending on the experience of the attorney, and his or her reputation and professional ratings. Most family law attorneys require several thousands of dollars as an upfront retainer, which serves as security for their fees.
A Los Angeles divorce can cost you several thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars. It depends on how complex your situation is, how organized you are in providing financial records, and whether or not you and your spouse can compromise.
If you and your spouse can be reasonable, my colleagues and I recommend divorce mediation to keep your costs down and resolve your matter quickly. Read my blog, Divorce in Los Angeles – 5 Things You’ll Need to Know for more information.
What do you get in a divorce?
Be careful here, of hiring a divorce lawyer who tells you what you want to hear instead of giving you an honest opinion of what you, or you and your children, may be entitled to.
Ultimately a family law court will make the final decision. A good divorce attorney will know California family law inside and out, and will honestly tell you what you can expect and why.
Your divorce attorney should also know the judges in your jurisdiction, and the styles in which they run their courtrooms. There’s nothing worse than hiring a disorganized lawyer who goes before a judge with little patience for wasting time. This could affect the final judgment, and cost you more in the long run.
These are the main factors to consider when hiring a divorce lawyer. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in the initial consultation – the way the attorneys respond will give you a better idea of who is the best fit for you.