How to Evaluate a Potential Divorce Attorney in California
Ending a marriage is a very difficult decision and not one to be made lightly. However, if you have decided to end your marriage, or your spouse has filed a divorce petition, and dissolution proceedings are inevitable, it’s natural to have many legal questions about your impending divorce case. One of the best things you can do in this situation is to secure legal counsel from an experienced California divorce lawyer as soon as possible.
The right attorney can help you understand the proceedings you face and your options for navigating your divorce. While you might think you can navigate your case without legal representation, the reality is that even the most seemingly straightforward divorce cases can pose very complex legal questions. It’s understandable to be hesitant about the potential cost of your legal fees, but you should not underestimate the potential value of your divorce lawyer’s representation.
If you are ready to speak with a California divorce attorney about your case, it’s essential to know how to choose the best divorce attorney to represent you. There are thousands of divorce lawyers practicing in California and likely dozens if not hundreds in your local area. The right attorney can significantly reduce the overall time and expense your case is likely to entail, helping you reach the best possible outcome in a fraction of the time you might expect your divorce to require. Therefore, it’s vital to know how to evaluate potential divorce lawyers to find the best legal representation for you.
How to Find Divorce Attorneys
Searching online for local divorce attorneys is one of the easiest methods of locating a potential attorney. First, however, it’s worth asking friends and family for personal recommendations if any of them have recently divorced and had positive experiences with their divorce attorneys. Then, use these recommendations and listings for the highest-rated local divorce lawyers to narrow your search to a few top candidates.
While you should not rush to hire the first divorce attorney you meet, you should attempt to secure legal counsel quickly. The sooner you secure legal representation, the easier it will be to construct your divorce case. In addition, your legal team will have more time to compile documentation and prepare you for the problematic proceedings ahead of you.
Evaluating Attorney Experience and Strategy
The divorce process will unfold uniquely for every couple that decides to end their marriage. Every marriage involves unique details; therefore, there are no one-size-fits-all legal strategies for the divorce process in California. Once you have compiled a list of your best candidates, it’s essential to carefully evaluate each potential attorney’s experience level. You need to find legal counsel with solid experience handling cases similar to yours. Your chosen divorce attorney should not only have extensive experience with divorce cases in general but also be able to highlight past cases they have successfully represented with critical similarities to your current case.
While many new attorneys are talented and enthusiastic about representing their clients, there is simply no proper substitute for professional experience when you need a divorce attorney. Take time to verify a potential lawyer’s level of experience handling divorce cases like yours. Additionally, determine the attorney’s preferred legal strategy for handling your type of case. For example, they may focus heavily on guiding you through divorce mediation or other alternative dispute resolution options, or they may be more experienced with litigation and prepare you for trial.
Judging Availability and Responsiveness
A divorce case is generally a protracted legal affair. Even when divorcing spouses choose alternative dispute resolution to streamline their divorce cases, the entire process can take several months or even more than a year to complete. Additionally, California imposes a mandatory six-month waiting period for every divorce, so the absolute minimum amount of time your case will require to complete is six months from the date your petition was filed. Therefore, when searching for a divorce lawyer in California, it’s vital to find one who has the flexibility in their schedule to manage your proceedings efficiently and provide consistent updates as your case progresses.
Most divorce attorneys will maintain balanced caseloads that ensure they have the time and availability to give each client their full attention. When interviewing a potential divorce attorney during a consultation, ask them about their caseload, how much time they intend to spend working on your case each day, and how often you can expect updates on your case’s progress. Depending on how you and your spouse choose to resolve your divorce, there could be long gaps of time between your proceedings. The attorney should let you know how to contact them about your case and offer more than one contact method.
How to Approach a Consultation
Most California divorce attorneys offer low-cost consultations to potential clients. This is essentially an interview process that allows a potential client to evaluate the attorney while allowing the attorney to determine whether they want to accept the client’s case. It’s a good idea to arrange consultations with your top candidates for legal counsel, and you should have lists of questions prepared for each consultation.
Ask the attorney whether they notice anything unique about your case, their initial expectation of how they intend your divorce to unfold, and their billing policy. For example, most divorce attorneys bill their clients by the hour, so the longer a divorce takes and the more time the attorney spends working on the case, the more expensive it will be for the client. Ask the attorney to clarify their billing policy and provide an anticipated timeline for your case to unfold. You should also ask whether the attorney believes alternative dispute resolution to be a realistic option for resolving your divorce case and, if so, how they intend to approach the process.
Bickford, Blado & Botros understands that divorce has the potential to change the rest of your life, and it’s natural to feel uncertain and anxious about your impending dissolution proceedings. Our team has years of experience representing California clients in complex divorce cases, and we can apply this experience to your case. Contact us today to schedule your consultation with a compassionate and experienced California divorce attorney, and we will let you know how we can assist you with your divorce proceedings.
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