Find the Right Family Lawyer – For You

Written by Rachel Aliza Elovitz

How do you navigate through a divorce in a way that minimizes conflict, cost, chaos, and contrition? Retain the right attorney – for you. How do you know who the right attorney is for you? Follow these steps.

  1. Let’s Tell It Like It Is
    Divorce sucks. Divorce is the end of a relationship that you intended to last a lifetime. Divorce is the dismantling of a united nuclear family. Divorce is financially taxing and emotionally draining. Divorce is inapposite to the health and happiness you seek. It is the antithesis of the quality-of-life you and your children deserve.
  2. Do Your Research – Look for An Attorney Proficient in Family Law
    To find the right attorney for you, research. This is the electronic age, so use it to your full advantage. Google “Atlanta family lawyers.” Visit websites like Avvo. Read client reviews and peer endorsements. Pay close attention to the areas of practice for which the attorney is endorsed and from whom and from where the endorsements come. Make sure that the attorney is endorsed by colleagues in the community in which he or she practices and that the endorsements are for areas that are consistent with family law practice, such as divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, equitable division of property, family violence, and prenuptial agreements.
  3. Check Out The Attorney’s Website and Read Articles He or She Has Published
    Check out an attorney’s website. Read articles that he or she has published, so you you have an idea of what “advocacy” means to that particular lawyer and whether it is consistent with your values as a litigant and parent. Look at the attorney’s curriculum vitae or resume. When it comes to the dissolution of your marriage, the division of marital assets, your ability to support your child, and custody of your children, it is important to find a family lawyer with experience.
  4. Find an Attorney Who Can Effectively Communicate Your Unique Needs
    It is similarly important to find an attorney with whom you feel you can communicate easily and with a high level of trust – and an attorney who is able to articulate your unique needs and desires to the opposing attorney and other professionals in the litigation. In the absence of that ability, it will be next to impossible to engage in the negotiation process or to do so with any success or to accurately represent your interests in Court.
  5. Make Inquiries of Family and Friends
    You should also make inquiries of friends and family who have used domestic relations (family) lawyers in your area. Ask if they would recommend the attorney and if so, why. Ask if the attorney took time to hear their concerns, to ask appropriate questions, and how the attorney composed himself or herself during the litigation. Attorneys who seek an advantage for their client by engaging in verbal warfare with the opposing side is often looking out for his or her own ego and not for his or her client.
  6. Make Sure The Attorney Is Accessible
    Inquire as to the attorney’s accessibility. You want to make sure that regardless of whether you use a lawyer from a large firm, small firm, or a sole practitioner, you will have access to the person who you are trusting to guide you through what will likely be one of the more difficult transitions in your life.
  7. Find An Attorney Who Will Explain The Process, Key Concepts, and Discuss Strategy
    Look for a lawyer who begins by explaining the divorce process to you, who takes the time to define and explain key concepts (i.e. the difference in physical and legal custody), who takes the time to answer your questions, who includes you in strategic discussion, who does NOT encourage you to be deceptive with your spouse or your child’s other parent, and who believes that keeping a client informed at all stages of the litigation is critical to a working attorney-client relationship.
  8. Find Competent, Affordable Counsel
    It is also important to ask the attorney about his or her retainer and hourly rate. Cost should not be the only factor that you consider in choosing an attorney, but it is important to be realistic about the financial investment you are making in retaining the attorney’s services.
  9. Listen to Your Gut
    Finally, listen to your gut. If you feel that an attorney looks good “on paper” but something is telling you that he or she is not the attorney for you, keep looking. You may be spending a number of months – potentially longer – with the attorney. He or she is someone you will get to know fairly well. Make sure it is someone with whom you feel comfortable.

Rachel A. Elovitz is a domestic litigator who regularly serves as a guardian ad litem, representing the interests of children in custody, abuse, and neglect cases in Georgia’s Superior and Juvenile Courts. She is a regular contributor to the DeKalb Bar News.

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