How to Choose a Divorce Lawyer

August 3, 2016

Ohio divorce attorney

Choosing the right Ohio divorce lawyer to advise and represent you makes going through the difficult process of ending your marriage easier and, potentially, more successful. You need to trust your attorney, and expense will be a concern. More than anything, you must feel confident that the individual you select to represent your best interests while also taking account of the safety, health, and security of your children will meet his or her professional obligations to do all those things. 

The legal team of family law attorneys with Edward F. Whipps & Associates have decades of combined experience helping both men and women in divorce cases, child custody disputes, and requests to modify agreements regarding spousal support and property division. Those cases have taught us much about how to work with all types of clients and solve tough problems while working within the strictures of civil and family law. They have also convinced us that no one lawyer or law firm can serve every person. 

Personal preferences for how and how often to communicate, unique circumstances, financial resources, schedules, physical location and ability to travel, and personalities must all align for an attorney-client relationship to work optimally. The choice of which lawyer to hire to handle your own divorce should be made carefully and after weighing several options. Start by asking for referrals, continue by checking qualifications, and never sign a legal services and representation contract without first meeting with your prospective attorney in person. 

Step 1. Identify Your Options 

To start finding your Ohio divorce attorney, speak with friends and family members who have gone through divorces themselves. Ask them what they liked best about their own lawyers, as well as what they could not stand. Keep a list of the attorneys and firms who receive the strongest recommendations. 

You can also search online lawyer directories such as the Ohio State Bar Association, Avvo, and Hg.org to identify attorneys who specialize in your type of case, have offices close to your home or workplace, and rate highly with former clients and other legal practitioners. The directory listings will include links to each attorney or firm’s website so you can commence your second stage of choosing your divorce attorney. 

Step 2. Do Your Research 

When visiting a firm’s website, read the descriptions of the services offered, check for answers to general questions you have concerning divorce, and look for information on hours, multiple offices that may be most convenient for you to visit, and fees. Many firms also post testimonials from clients, case result summaries, and blogs on legal topics. Viewing some of this additional content can help you form an initial opinion regarding the staff’s knowledge, ability to explain difficult concepts, and care for the people they serve. 

Step 3. Ask the Right Questions 

From your research, pick two or three attorneys and schedule initial consultations. The meetings serve the dual purposes of letting you get answers regarding your own case rather than all divorce proceedings in general and of letting you assess how well each lawyer’s style and attitude matches your own. 

Specific questions to ask during your first face-to-face meeting include 

  • From what I’ve told you, do think I have good chances of achieving what I want in terms of property division, spousal support, and custody or child visitation arrangements? That is, do you think I can “win”?
  • Does anything I’ve told you so far make you think you would have a problem advising me or representing me during negotiations and in court?
  • How much support may I have to pay if my ex-spouse succeeds with requests for child care payments and alimony?
  • Will your other cases and responsibilities make it difficult for me to speak with you over the phone or in person?
  • Will your associates or paralegals be handling any parts of my case? If so, what will their duties be, and will I be able to communicate with them directly?
  • What is your basic fee? Will expenses for travel, administrative services, photocopies, postage, faxes, calls, and supplies be charged separately, and at what rates?
  • Will I owe you anything if I decide to hire a different Ohio divorce lawyer?
  • Do you perceive any barriers to us working together to attain the outcome I consider best for me and my children? 

Listen to each answer for completeness, clarity, honesty, and empathy. Never hire an attorney who strikes you as rushed, dismissive, too-quick to guarantee results, or evasive on details like exact hourly and flat rates. Also avoid signing a contract with any lawyer who seems unable or unwilling to explain legal matters in terms you can understand. 

Step 4. Never Forget That Your Lawyer Works for You 

One of your foremost legal rights is to have the attorney of your choice. If you hire an Ohio divorce lawyer who then refuses to take your calls, gives you answers you know to be incorrect, or appears to be misrepresenting your situation and interests, you cannot only fire the person, you should. You can also seek second opinions on advice and recommendations from your current lawyer by consulting with a different attorney. 

To find out if one of the family law attorneys with Edward F. Whipps & Associates meets your needs in a pending or ongoing divorce case, call us to schedule a consultation. We have offices in Columbus and Dublin, and you can reach us online or via phone at (614) 461-6006.

 

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