Nobody marries with the idea of divorcing a few years later. Sadly though it happens to more and more couples. In fact, nearly 40 percent of marriages currently end up in divorce. And the truth is that the outcome of any divorce in terms of property allocation, support, and custody often depends on which of the two parties had the best divorce lawyer. That’s why finding the right divorce lawyer from the start is crucial.

Top divorce lawyers are able to match wits with the opposing party’s counsel, yet they remain responsive to the needs of their clients and know how to professionally guide them through the often confusing divorce process.

Here are 5 tips for finding the best divorce lawyer:

Get referrals

There is probably not a single individual out there who doesn’t know a couple of people who have recently gone through a divorce. Talk to them. Ask them who they used and let them explain why they think their divorce lawyer was particularly good or bad.

A good  idea here is to try and find someone with a similar profile to yours. If you, for example, have two young children and you inherited your parents’ wealth, it might not be a good idea to hire a lawyer who represented your friend who is unemployed, has no kids, and lives in a used car.

Draw up a list of what you want from the divorce and the divorce lawyer

Start by drawing up a list of the values and types of shared assets. Take into account the financial situation of both parties. Also, make notes of the types of disputes you are expecting. If you jointly own a business with your spouse you will need a different lawyer than when you are both working for a salary. The same is true if you bought a home together: you will need a divorce attorney with different skills than when you lived in a rental home.

This is also the time to consider what type of personality your ideal divorce lawyer should have. After all, you will have to work closely with this person through what is likely one of the most difficult periods in your life.

Determine how much you can afford to pay the divorce lawyer

It might come as a surprise but not all divorce lawyers charge the same. Younger, less experienced lawyers who still have to make a name for themselves will be cheaper than a high-profile attorney who regularly works with movie stars.

Take into account not only what you can afford to pay, but what you stand to gain or lose from the divorce. If you expect a fierce battle over that $10 million condo in Florida it makes sense to spend more legal representation than when both of you are young without any significant assets.

Draw up a shortlist and Interview at least three divorce lawyers

Don’t skip this step. You can learn a lot from a 30-minute interview. It is important that the lawyer should immediately be able to come up with a clear plan of action. The two of you should from the start be able to communicate well.

This is also the time to find out more about the lawyer’s experience and skills. And do not be shy to ask about their fee structure. Make sure this is clearly explained and that you don’t get hit with a huge unexpected bill after the divorce is over.

Take time to make a decision

Do not make a hasty decision. Take time after the interviews to logically and unemotionally evaluate the divorce lawyers you have spoken to. There’s nothing wrong with doing a Google search to see if there are people who had particularly good or bad experiences with one of them. This is also the final opportunity to ask questions about anything that might not be clear to you.

Search our directory for divorce lawyers near you

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