How to Choose the Right Divorce Lawyer
If you are considering filing for divorce from your spouse, you will most likely need to find a divorce attorney. Legal issues related to divorce are complicated, and a divorce attorney can help you navigate this difficult topic. While it may seem like any lawyer would do a good job, is important to select a divorce lawyer who is equipped to handle your situation and who you can trust. Keep reading to learn how to choose the right divorce lawyer.
Part One of Four:
Searching for an Attorney Edit
Decide whether you need an attorney. You may not even need to hire a lawyer for your divorce. Most divorces, especially if there are no children involved and neither party contests anything, don’t require an adversarial legal process. 
- Consider using an experienced mediator instead. The mediator will work with you and your spouse to come up with a division of assets agreeable to both parties. After the assets have been divided, you and your spouse can file for divorce on your own.
- In many states spousal support, child support, and asset divisions follow rigid guidelines. You can calculate them with simple and inexpensive programs that can serve as the basis for mediation.
Give yourself (and your spouse) time. Reduce the fear and the perception of the need to “legal up.” Try to mutually agree not to take any steps that will materially affect either of your financial situations without giving each other notice and reasonable time to respond.
- Even if you do decide to retain a lawyer, the process of divorce will be much easier if you try to cooperate with your spouse.
Create a list of local divorce attorneys. When creating your list, include the attorney’s name, address, phone number, and website address. You can find nearby divorce attorneys by: 
- Looking in your local yellow pages. Check your yellow pages under “attorney” then searching for ads that list divorce or family law as an area in which the attorney(s) practices.
- Running a search of an online phone directory.
- Using your favorite search engine to run an online search. You may be able to find divorce lawyers in your area by using your favorite search engine to search “divorce/family law attorneys in YOUR STATE”. If you live in California, for example, you would want to search “family law attorneys in California.”
- Visiting your state bar association’s website or calling and asking for a referral. Check to see if your state bar association certifies attorneys as specialists in family law. To locate your local bar association website, visit the website for the American Bar Association. 
Narrow your list. You may be able to eliminate some lawyers from your list by looking at other people’s recommendations (to hire or not to hire) and referrals. A few ways to gather referrals and recommendations include: 
- Talking to friends and family. Talk to friends and family members who have used a divorce lawyer. Find out who they hired, if they were happy with the services, and why or why not. Ask if they would recommend the attorney.
- Checking online reviews. Many websites offer free reviews of lawyers. Find Law is one of the many great resources you can use for this purpose. 
- Looking at disciplinary records. State bar associations keep public records about complaints and disciplinary actions taken against attorneys licensed to practice in the state. You can find your bar association’s website by selecting your state from the State Local Bar Associations page provided by the American Bar Association.
Review each attorney’s website. You can narrow your list further by thoroughly reviewing the website of each attorney on your list. Some things that you want to look for include:
- Information about divorce law. Look for some general information about divorce and family law, a frequently asked questions (“FAQ”) section, or a blog with articles pertaining to family law. The best attorneys will have well developed websites offering a lot of information.
- Grammar and spelling. If you see a lot of grammar and spelling errors, maybe that attorney is not for you. An attorney should use proper grammar and a spell check, or ensure that those writing content for his or her website can.
- Background information on the attorney. Most lawyers’ websites will provide information about each attorney working for the firm. Take a look at each lawyer’s educational background and work history. You should look for a divorce attorney who has at least three-to-five years of experience doing family law and who spends at least 50% of his or her time doing divorce work.
Look for specialization within divorce law. Another easy step to narrow your list is by specialization within the umbrella of divorce law. Many state bar associations have certified specialists in family law. If you find an attorney who appears to have a specialization, only consider the attorney if you fall within the category that the lawyer usually handles. 
- For example, if you find an attorney whose website is titled something like “Dad’s Divorce Central,” you would not want to engage the attorney unless you were a father getting a divorce.
Ask your questions. When you meet with an attorney for your consultation, ask all of the questions that you have decided to ask. You may also want to bring a notepad and paper to make notes about the attorney’s answers and also note your general thoughts on the attorney.
Be aware that the attorneys you interview may not have answers to all of your questions. If your particular issue is complicated or extremely rare, it is possible that the attorneys you interview will have to research the specifics of domestic relations law in your state and how they would apply to your case.
- Do not assume that the attorney is a bad choice or that the attorney is not knowledgeable if he or she cannot answer your question right away. Instead, assess the attorney’s answers to the other questions you asked.
Keep control of the conversation. Some attorneys may attempt to take over the conversation and steer it where they want it to go. If you are comfortable with that, it is fine. If not, try to redirect the conversation to the topics that you want to discuss.