Divorce and custody disputes are emotional, lengthy and often expensive. Every attorney practices and communicates with a different style. A key component to achieving success in this process is to choose an attorney who has a style that meshes with your personality.
The appropriate time to evaluate this issue is at the initial consultation. Ask yourself these five questions, all of which the answer should be YES:
1. Does this attorney listen to me?
If you are going to work with an attorney who cannot listen, hire someone different. An attorney that does not have time to listen to your story may have other priorities.
2. Do I feel comfortable sharing intimate and personal details with this attorney?
If you cannot share important and potentially embarrassing or harmful details with your attorney, you need to work with someone new. It does not matter why you withhold information (whether due to the attorney's age, gender or other circumstance), what matters is that you hire an attorney you feel comfortable with. Sometimes a case will hinge on the undisclosed and embarrassing details.
3. Has the attorney answered all of my questions competently?
If an attorney does not know the answer to a complicated legal question at a consultation, that is OK. The important issue is whether you are leaving the consultation with direction. At the end of a consultation you should always understand the next steps that you need to take to push your divorce or custody dispute forward.
4. Will I take direction and advice from this attorney when necessary?
Any choice made in the process of a divorce or custody dispute is your choice alone. However, if you are not willing to listen to your attorney's advice, why are you paying them a significant amount of money to represent you? If you know better than your attorney, you should either hire someone new or represent yourself. Otherwise, any result obtained will not be satisfactory.
5. Does this attorney approach divorce and custody disputes in the way I need them to?
Your attorney must have an approach and style that makes you feel comfortable spending large sums of money on their services. If you want a shark and die-hard litigator, don't hire anything less than that. If you want an attorney who is compassionate and understanding, keep searching until you find the right person.
The relationship between you and your attorney is a two-way street. Not every attorney you meet with will satisfy your needs. If you consult with an attorney and leave that consultation with uncertainty, get a second opinion. The inverse is also true. A good attorney should know what kind of client meshes well with their practice. If an attorney does not feel comfortable representing you, they should decline to accept your case. Hopefully the questions above will help you narrow your selection and allow you to find an attorney you can invest in without regret.