Cleo Everest (not her real name) had a decision to make following an inadvertent pocket dial call from her husband's smart phone. Ms. Everest, a resident of Marin County, had gotten a routine call from her husband asking how the kids were while he was on a supposed business trip. He hung up and then called back a few minutes later, but it was an inadvertent pocket dial where he'd hit the call button by accident. She was about to hang up when she heard a woman giggling in the background and an order for a bottle of wine for two from her husband. It didn't take long for the whole sordid story to come out and for Cleo to need to make a decision - she needed to hire a divorce attorney. For Cleo, deciding who to hire was part of an online process - she even blogged about it. For the rest of us, here are some tips to help you decide:
Getting a divorce is not something you do every day. Statistics say that half of all first-time marriages end in divorce. In each case, this is also the first time that these people each need to find a divorce lawyer. How can you be sure you have found an attorney that works hard to bring the experience and skill needed to protect your rights and guide your family's future?
The first decision is whether to retain a lawyer at all. This is an easy question. Without proper training and knowledge of the law, it is nearly impossible to craft a divorce agreement that is in your best interests. So, yes, speak to a divorce lawyer before you do anything else about leaving your spouse. You can benefit from advice about establishing independent credit, keeping track of communal property, and a host of other things that may become very important as your divorce proceeds.
How to find a divorce lawyer you can trust
- Select a Certified Family Law Specialist. Board Certified Legal Specialists have demonstrated their competence, taken educational courses and shown commitment to the family law practice administered through the State Bar of California.
- Compile a list of candidates. Ask recently divorced friends and relatives for referrals. Look at online services such as lawyers.com to find attorneys in your area. Be sure to look specifically for divorce or family law attorneys. They specialize in divorce law and can advise you regarding child custody, alimony, parenting plans and financial settlements.
- Check references. Many attorneys have an online presence. Look around and see what others have said about your attorney. Check out peer review ratings showing how the legal community views your prospective lawyer.
- Consider skills. If you and your spouse are wealthy, you'll need an attorney who is skilled at uncovering hidden assets to ensure that you get everything you deserve.
- Do interviews. Call the offices of two or three lawyers who stood out when you did research. Is the staff accommodating? Does the lawyer have time to speak with you briefly for your screening process? One of the best ways to pick the right divorce attorney is to set up interview. Some even offer to meet with you for a free initial consultation.
- Check out past cases. Ask the attorneys about some of their past cases that are similar to your own. They may not be able to reveal details, but they can give you a brief overview to help you to get a feel for whether this is someone you'll be comfortable with.
In all cases though, remember that it is best to work with a San Diego divorce lawyer rather than on your own. It is the only way to ensure that your rights during the divorce proceedings are protected.