Divorce lawyers

Divorce lawyers come in many flavours. Male, female, young, old and with different levels of experience and of course good and bad laywers. Some are specialised in divorces with children involved. Some went themselves through a divorce with children.

This article will explain to you:

  • how a divorce laywer works
  • how to select a lawyer

How a divorce laywer works

The divorce laywer guides you through your divorce process. In most states in the U.S. a divorce lawyer is mandatory in the divorce process.

He or she will assure that the right legal steps are taken at the right time. He or she will also agree with you on a strategy or path to follow. The divorce lawyer will explain the choices you have and what the consequences are of each choice for you and for your family.

When you are a parent, the interests of your children should be on the top priority on the list.

Phases divorce lawyers go through:

Client intake

Lawyers have their client acceptance criteria. They look at multiple criteria: your financial situation, the type of divorce and so on. 

Investigation

  • The lawyer will ask you to explain the reason of your divorce and to hand over:
  • (copies) of all the legal documents concerning your marriage
  • your address and phone numbers
  • your partner's address
  • the address of your children
  • your and your partners formal education
  • your and your partner's occupation
  • the names and ages of your children including details
  • the schools your children are going to
  • disabilities of family members, if any
  • incomes
  • bank accounts
  • a list of your posessions and that of your partner
  • social security
  • health care insurance
  • live insurances
  • other information: did you try marriage counseling, mediation, other..
  • prove of abuse or violence used against you or the children, if applicable, including witnesses
  • other

Depending on the state or country you are living in, the lawyer will find out whether the ground for divorce is valid or not. Non-fault divorces are not allowed in some states or countries.

He or she will tell you about the process that you need to follow.

The start of the process

Now, your divorce lawyer will make up a complaint and a summon. Those are the legal documents explaining the ground for divorce. He or she files the summon and the complaint at the court. Your lawyer knows which court he has to address.

These documents are sent to the other party as a notification. The other party has to acknowledge these documents. Once that has been done, the divorce process actually starts. Your partner may file a defense against your accusations.

Uncontested or contested divorce

One speaks of a contested divorce if one of the parties disagrees with the claims of divorce. This process is difficult and expensive.

Uncontested divorces are 95% of the cases in the US. They are inexpensive. In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree on the division of assets, child custody and support issues. The agreement must be presented to the court. If the court finds it reasonable, it will accept the divorce terms. If the partners cannot reach an agreement, they can ask the court to decide. For both cases, divorce lawyers are needed to represent the parties. Uncontested divorces can be prepared using internet services.

The divorce lawyer has to prepare a settlement agreement. This agreement lists the rights and responsibilities you and your partner will have after divorce. The lawyer will file the settlement agreement to the appropriate court.

How to select a divorce laywer

Where to look.

You will find many divorce lawyers in your state on the Internet. Divorce laws differ somehow by state. Be sure you get a lawyer from the state of your residency.

You can also ask a friend or relative who divorced recently to his or her divorce lawyer.

Qualifications

Not every lawyer is a divorce lawyer.  Divorce attorneys have followed special trainings and they are experienced in this field. He or she must have a degree in law and musts be licensed as a working lawyer in the state or country.

Is your laywer accessible?

Is it easy to talk to the lawyer or is he hiding in meetings all the time? Does he answer the phone and does he or she accepts a meeting invitation from you?

Does he call back?

Some lawyers do not answer your phone calls. That way you will become frustrated.

Does he keep you up to date?

Does he send you regular updates of the progress of the process or does he leave you in the blind?

Does he clearly explain?

Does he or she explain the process you will go through to you in an understandable way? Does he answer your questions straightforward in an understandable language or is he vague? You need somebody you can rely on and you can trust. Does he gets irritated if you ask the same question over and over again?

Does he propose a dirty fight?

Some lawyers want to play it dirty. They propose to "help" you to take revenge on your partner. Sometimes over the back of your children. If this is the case, you better walk away and look for another one.

Does he or she has experience with children and divorce?

Do you stay in control of the process?

Of course, your divorce lawyer is the expert. But if there are important decisions to be made, your lawyer should always contact you to discuss. In other words, there should be a good and frequent communication between you and your lawyer.

Is he clear about his fees?

You should discuss his fee during your first meeting. Do you know exactly how much the lawyer will charge you? Or does he give some vague indication of the fee he will charge you? He or she should give a written statement of the fee he is going to charge you on paper, including the things he will do for you.

For standard, uncontested divorces, they might charge a fixed amount. Otherwise they will bill you by the hour.

Common practice is that you deposit an amount upfront which the lawyer will consume during the process. He should provide you with regular updates of the status. Assure that you will receive back the value of the unconsumed hours.

Tell him what you want and how you want it.

A good way to avoid misunderstandings is to clearly communicate the above mentioned points to the divorce attorney during your first meeting.

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