California marriages end in divorce too frequently. While California ranks among the lower across many states, the rates are still rather high. According to Statista, the state overall has approximately a 5.7 per 1,000 rate of marriages. Recent reports issued by U. S. News indicate approximately 6.5 percent of all California marriages will end in divorce. One of the most important things you can do when you learn your partner wishes to end your marriage is make sure you have a qualified divorce attorney. Here are some of the best steps you can take to find the attorney who is right for your needs.
Step One: Talk to Family and Friends
Nearly all of us know someone who has been through the divorce process. Each of us may turn to family and friends when we are looking for recommendations for other services and divorce attorneys are no exception.
When discussing recommendations with friends or family, find someone who has a situation like your own. This can help you make a better-informed decision. If you have children and you are talking to only those who are childless, the attorney may not be the right person for your needs.
The more similar someone else’s situation is to your own, the more likely you are to find the right attorney to meet your needs. This is just one way to determine if the attorney is the right one to help you move forward and resolve your problems.
Step Two: Check Your Local Bar Association
The State Bar of California has a listing of all family law attorneys in the state. Once you have decided which attorney may be able to best help you, review their credentials on this website and learn how long they have been in practice. You can also reference the San Diego County Bar Association and learn more about the attorney you are researching.
Step Three: Evaluate Your Needs
Before you begin contacting an attorney, it is a good idea to understand your specific needs. Some examples of how people’s needs may vary include:
- No Material Differences on Property Division — while California is a community property state, either partner may have had property coming into the marriage, one partner may be shielding assets, or other situations may develop which would result in your needing a more aggressive attorney. However, if you and your spouse agree on most issues pertaining to property division, you may merely need an attorney who will help you draft a proper agreement.
- No Dispute on Child Custody Matters — if you and your spouse agree on who will have physical custody of your child or children, your attorney can help you draft a proper parenting plan. However, if you and your spouse are disputing child custody, you need an attorney who is willing to advocate on your behalf.
- Other Determining Factors — if you have a high-value marital estate, your spouse is in the military, or either you or your spouse own a business, your needs are very different than someone who merely needs an attorney to help them draft a separation agreement and custody agreement. Make sure you are looking at your divorce situation as a whole and not as different parts, because it will make a difference when hiring a divorce lawyer.
These are only a couple of situations where the family law attorney you select to handle your divorce could have an impact on your future. Choose the lawyer who will represent you carefully based on your specific needs.
Step Four: Do Your Own Research
Regardless of how stellar the information you receive from families and friends, it is imperative you do your own research into an attorney. There are several options for doing this including reviewing the attorney’s website, checking professional reviews, and searching professional referral sites. These sites often provide information which you will not find anyplace else and can help narrow your search for the right divorce attorney down to a small number of options.
Step Five: Contact Local Resources
Oftentimes, you can find information through local support groups for newly divorced parents or other groups which can help you determine a lawyer’s local reputation. Do not hesitate to take advantage of these resources as they will help you make a better decision. Remember, if you are in the midst of a contentious divorce, you want to make sure the lawyer you hire is going to be the best person to represent your needs and help you overcome the challenges you will be facing.
Once you have completed these five steps and narrowed your choices down to a few names, you will then have the information you need to make an informed decision. However, your search should not end there.
One of the most important things to remember is you need to be able to talk to your lawyer about all aspects of your pending divorce, which means you need to feel comfortable sharing potentially uncomfortable information. The best way to accomplish this is to have a face-to-face meeting with the lawyer before you hire them.
Nearly all attorneys will offer potential clients a free consultation. By scheduling a free consultation, you can either discuss your case by telephone or in person with an attorney and determine your level of comfort. Remember, every person’s needs are different — you may need an attorney who will be available by phone when you have questions, others may wish to have an attorney who will just take charge of their case and let them know what they have to do.
If you are considering filing for divorce, or your spouse has recently informed you they plan to file for divorce, you need someone who will serve as a strong advocate for your interests. At The Law Offices of Steven M. Bishop, Attorney at Law, we have had more than four decades of experience handling a range of divorce cases including military cases, high net worth cases, and cases where there are broad disputes between spouses. As a specialist in family law, as certified by the California Board of Legal Specialization we are committed to helping each client resolve their family law matters. Contact The Law Offices of Steven M. Bishop today at (619) 299-9780 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free consultation.