What should Californians consider when hiring a divorce attorney?

Considering certain factors when hiring a divorce lawyer may help people choose the right legal representatives for their situations and needs.

According to the Judicial Council of California, there were 138,121 filings for legal separations, marital dissolutions and nullities across the state in 2016 alone. When couples make the decision to get divorced or otherwise split up, many choose to obtain legal representation to aid them with their cases. There is more to hiring a lawyer, however, than simply picking a name from a list. Taking several factors into consideration may help ensure they choose the right attorney for their situations and needs.

Credentials and experience

It should go without saying that when looking to hire a lawyer people will want to ensure their choice is licensed to practice in the state where they live. Looking into the credentials of their potential options may check for such licensing, as well as whether they have any additional certifications. Divorcing spouses may also find it helpful to look into the experience of those attorneys who they are considering. Those with more experience may be more familiar with the judges and other legal representatives in the jurisdiction, which they may use to their clients' advantage.

Compatibility

Although California is a no fault state, people may still have to discuss personal and sensitive matters with their divorce lawyers. Therefore, it is essential that they feel comfortable with them. Prior to making their decisions, those who are divorcing may find it helpful to interview or sit down for an initial consultation with their top choices. At that time, they may get a feel for how they would work with each attorney.

Budget and pricing

Since California is a community property state, people may find their assets tied up until their cases are settled. Thus, their budgets may be a primary concern when they are looking for a legal representative. There are not set fees for divorce attorneys, so the pricing scales may vary significantly from one to the next. When looking into potential lawyers, divorcing spouses should ask about their hourly rate, retainers and billing practices, as well as whether they have any alternative pricing or payment options.

Testimonials

Understanding the importance of a good first impression, lawyers like anyone typically try to put their best foot forward when meeting prospective clients. This may make it difficult for people to get an accurate idea of what it might be like to work with them. Through client testimonials, however, divorcing spouses may gain valuable insight into how the attorneys they are considering operate during an active case. All other things being equal, client reviews may help people identify if one attorney might be better suited to handle their case than the others.

The longer California divorce cases are drawn out, the more difficult they may be for those involved. Working with an attorney may help alleviate some of people's stresses during an already tumultuous time. A legal representative may help them understand what to expect and look out for their interests throughout the process.