what qualities to look for in a divorce atty

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-16-2004
what qualities to look for in a divorce atty
Tue, 04-08-2014 - 10:47pm

I received in the mail the other day a court filing for disolution of marriage from my husband's attorney.  So now I need to retain a lawyer.  I know nobody who is divorced (at least divorced recently enough that they attorney still practices) So I can't find out by word of mouth who is a good lawyer.   So when you go for a consultation, what do you look for in a lawyer to decide they are right for you?

Community Leader
Registered: 09-25-2003
Wed, 04-09-2014 - 8:06am

From my experience in working with eight divorce attorneys, I look for:

*  Referral from past clients (talking to the client)...behavior and history is more telling than the words the attorney uses to sell you on his/her service

*  Timely communication and responses to issues, as well as involving you in decision making of how to proceed with your case.  A past attorney did not tell me about courtdates or what she was doing in negotiating my case.  I am trying to "clean up" the mess she left behind with items I asked her to fight for.  :(  Two attorneys let the statute of limitations run out on items I asked to be investigated, so I have no recourse on a few matters.

*  Litigation/negotiation skills - does your attorney fight for what you want, or cave in to your ex's demands?  Do you want an attorney to fight or settle?  This depends on what you want in an attorney, your ex's attorney's style, etc.

*  Intelligence - does your attorney know the law and statutes to fight for your case?  One of my attorneys allowed the judge to make a decision on child support before we got my ex's tax returns.  6 months after the ruling, my ex's tax returns showed a HUGE income winfall for which child support was NOT calculated on.

In general, it seems that the two skills needed are negotation/litigation vs. administrative/communication.  It has been hard for me to find a lawyer with both skills, but perhaps that is because I have not worked with a big firm, where associates can do the latter, and the lawyer can do the former.

Take it for what it's worth...just my two cents.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Wed, 04-09-2014 - 10:44am

I agree with Freshstartnow.  I'm a divorce attorney myself.  The only thing I would say is that I wouldn't be able to give out client references because of client confidentiality, so maybe you could check on Linkedin or Google the person to see if you can find anything.  I think that someone needs to find an attorney who they feel comfortable working with.  If your goal is to get the case settled amicably without a lot of fuss, you wouldn't go with a lawyer who is known to be a pit bull type who really enjoys litigation.  but if you think your STBX is going to give you a hard time, you don't want someone who is afraid to go to court, like my friend's atty who almost cried because she was afraid of the other lawyer.  You want someone who can explain to you clearly what you are entitled to and how he/she thinks the case is going to go and definitely someone who keeps you informed.  

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Community Leader
Registered: 01-25-2010
Thu, 04-10-2014 - 2:24pm

Add to what Music wrote how do they bill, do they give you instructions on what to say or not say to your soon to be  ex are tax considerations taken into account.   Is it possible to be amicable with a win-win where it is the taxman who takes the hit.  Do they walk you through the expectations and the state laws and application of same.  Do not forget the ability to leave for new job or just because you want to(if there are children).