Divorce can be overwhelming and frightening, especially when it is unexpected. Selecting the right divorce attorney is a decision that can change the course of your life.
How do you know which New Jersey divorce lawyer is the best fit for your needs?
Here are some key factors to consider:
- Find a divorce lawyer who understands that every case is different. There is no such thing as a “standard” divorce. Cases have a lot of moving parts, and often settle in pieces. An experienced NJ family law attorney will help you identify all the issues of your case, gather relevant information, and set realistic expectations for your specific circumstances.
- Find a divorce lawyer who listens to your goals and concerns. A successful family law attorney understands that divorce involves people, not cases. Family dynamics can be complex and emotionally severe. The right divorce lawyer will ask questions, listen to your priorities, and determine what combination of legal strategies is most compatible with your personality and your goals.
- Find a divorce lawyer who has an established practice in your local area. Just because a lawyer is licensed to practice in your state, does not necessarily make them a good fit for your case. The closer your divorce attorney is to your geographic location, the better. An established local lawyer has existing professional relationships with judges and attorneys in the area, which will make him/her more effective and allow for a smoother process overall.
- Find a lawyer who is solely focused on divorce and family law. Family law is a specific legal expertise, and New Jersey divorce law is constantly changing. You should hire a lawyer who is solely focused on divorce and family law (rather than a general law practice), and has a relationship of mutual respect with family court judges and colleagues in the area. A family law practice will also have access to a network of key professionals, including: financial planners, private investigators, forensic accountants, mental health counselors, process servers and more.
- Find a divorce lawyer who doesn’t pressure you into expensive litigation. While it’s tempting to seek out the most combative litigator you can find, aggressive doesn’t always mean effective. Lawyers looking for a fight usually find one, and it’s almost always at the expense of your wallet. Hiring a strategic and creative problem-solver will ultimately save you a lot of time, money and stress.
- Find a divorce lawyer who can help you set realistic expectations. Family court doesn’t have to resemble the plot of a Lifetime movie. A good divorce lawyer will help you keep perspective during this emotionally difficult time, and develop a strategy that prioritizes what’s important to you. If you find yourself drifting off-course, your divorce attorney should be able to keep you focused on your end goals.
- Find a divorce lawyer you can trust. Divorce is an ongoing process, and you will be spending a lot of hours with your lawyer- it’s critical to find one compatible with your personality. You may be working together sporadically for years to revisit your settlement as life circumstances evolve. It’s a long life, so trust your gut. If you do not feel comfortable speaking openly and honestly around your lawyer, or feel they are too controlling over the process, they are not the right fit.
Ending a marriage is a difficult process with life-defining outcomes. Your lawyer should be an asset, not a barrier, to this transition. If you are beginning a divorce, or looking to replace your current legal counsel: shop around, consider your options carefully, and don’t settle.