Updated: May 21, 2020
I get it: the possibility of a divorce seems daunting. You’re hurt, sad, angry, anxious. On top of these uncomfortable emotions, you're likely feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of finding, let alone hiring, the best divorce lawyer to suit your individual needs.
It's scary. Whether you have a referral from a friend or are searching online, this lawyer is a stranger, and this stranger will be responsible for protecting the most important parts of your life: your kids, your personal finances, your business. Your lawyer will be your advisor, confidant, spokesperson, and representative. You want to make the right choice.
Maybe you’ve never met with a lawyer before; most people only meet with lawyers 1-2 times in their lives. Take a deep breath. For every client, the right lawyer is out there, you just need to find them. Some tips below.
1. Consult with a lawyer - even if it's amicable and especially if it's not.
Divorce is one of the most complex and emotional legal processes in family law, and you want to make sure it's done right. Period.
That said, divorce representation can take on many forms. Some cases are litigated, some are negotiated, some are a mix of both.
Some clients are able to settle directly with their exes, but still need a lawyer to help evaluate offers, guide the negotiation, and draft the settlement paperwork.
"Lawyering up" doesn't need to escalate tensions in a case - in fact, hiring counsel can help resolve divorces. The right lawyer for you knows how to use legal tools to resolve your case, not over-complicate it. The right divorce lawyer for you will be able to craft a plan to meet your needs.
Most clients leave a consultation feeling empowered with knowledge. A good consultation can help ease the anxiety of the unknown.
2. Look for a lawyer who specifically practices family law.
In California, divorce is a part of family law. Family law attorneys generally handle matters involving prenuptial agreements, divorce, and child custody and child support for non-marital relationships.
You want a divorce attorney who specifically practices family law. California family law is technical and specific. It operates by its own set of rules, and it's much different from other areas of law.
You want to make sure you understand all of your options and rights; you need to know that all of the paperwork, whether a trial brief or a settlement agreement, is top notch. Again, you want to make sure it's done right, otherwise you're wasting your money and putting everything at risk.
3. Ask a friend or trusted advisor.
If you have any family members or friends who have gotten a divorce, that's a great place to start. Ask them for advice or suggestions. Yes, it can be hard or embarrassing but remember, that person was once exactly where you are. Hopefully now, that person has seen the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. You can get there too.
It's important to ask the right questions; just because a lawyer was right for one case does not necessarily mean they're a good fit for yours. Was their lawyer detailed-oriented and prepared? Was their lawyer responsive? Was their lawyer a good "teammate" in the process? Were the bills fair? These are questions you can ask to help evaluate an attorney without asking your friend about the personal specifics of their divorce.
Another good source for trustworthy referrals can be professionals like therapists, divorce coaches, and other lawyers. Many lawyers who do not practice family law know will know a high quality divorce lawyer.
4. Do an online search.
Even if you have a personal referral, do an online search to get a feel for the person. Check out their online reviews, blog posts, and bio. This can help rule out lawyers who are clearly not a good fit, for whatever reason.
If you don't have any personal referrals, online searches are a good place to start. A lawyer's online branding and reviews can tell you a lot about their family law philosophy, experience, and success.
5. Meet with more than one lawyer.
Every lawyer has a different style of practice - there are endless combinations of personality, demeanor, philosophy, and strategy. That goes for clients too - clients (and their exes) all have different temperaments that will impact the case. The only way to assess if it's a good fit is to meet with more than one lawyer.
Is this lawyer listening to you and showing compassion? Is this lawyer giving an honest assessment? Remember, anything that seems too good to be true usually is. Any lawyer who "guarantees" that a judge will do one thing or another is, frankly, lying. Ask that lawyer to get their guarantee in writing, and you will see a quick backtrack.
6. Take a close look at the lawyer's demeanor and temperament.
You're looking for a divorce lawyer to resolve disagreements you already have, not to pick more fights. You're looking for a divorce lawyer who can solve your problems, not create more problems.
When you meet with lawyers, carefully evaluate their temperaments. Look for someone calm, cool, and collected. You don't want to waste your money on ego wars and tactics that don't serve your goals. You want someone who can see beyond conflict. You want to get out of this mess as cost-efficiently as possible.
7. Trust yourself.
Like with most things in life, when it's a fit, you know.
Take the leap towards a brighter future. It could be a phone call away.
If you are seeking a Los Angeles divorce lawyer, call the Law Office of Emily E. Rubenstein at (310) 750-0827 to schedule a consultation. We proudly serve Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Culver City, the South Bay, Glendale, Pasadena, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Encino and all of Los Angeles County.