The end of a marriage can be painful, frustrating and emotionally taxing and is seldom a good experience. In such tough times, however, it is all the more important to make sure the process doesn’t produce any more bitter moments and that the separation goes off as smoothly as possible.
Because people are not really in the right frame of mind, they make decisions that can adversely affect them in the long term and the consequences can be quite bitter. This is why it is very important to find a good divorce lawyer. This guide will help you find the right Philadelphia divorce lawyer for your case, so that you can leave the tough decisions during the divorce to the professionals and let them handle your case, instead of you taxing yourself even more.
Divorce is not only painful but it can be incredibly complex with a host of issues coming up during the separation, right from children to finances and property distribution. There can be many complications involved in each of these. Therefore, you should let the best Philadelphia divorce lawyers handle your case so that you don’t need to stress more and your case can proceed smoothly. Taking the time off to research and find the best Philadelphia lawyers will greatly help your cause and will surely be worth the time and effort spent in trying to find one.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR?
So the simple question is, how do you find the best Philadelphia divorce lawyers to fight your case? There are several things that you will need to look at while choosing the right lawyer.
*Experience: Experience is important for a divorce lawyer because there is a lot of learning from the practical cases and not just books. Divorce can take unexpected turns during the case. If your lawyer has enough experience in the field, then he will be ready for anything the other party throws at you, and thus be able to protect you and serve your interests better.
Make sure that your lawyer is well experienced not just in terms of the number of years he has been practicing law but also the number of divorce cases he has handled over his career. Experience in this particular field is important.
Another important thing to note is that different states can have very different divorce laws and a lawyer who has been practicing in one state for a long time might find it difficult if he suddenly takes up a case in a new state. You would ideally like your lawyer to have worked and have the experience in your state.
*Specialization: It is best to entrust the complex issues of divorce to an expert who specializes in this field. It is thus important to find a lawyer who specializes in divorce and family law. Experience can be important in divorce because a lot of potential complexities might arise during the case. Thus it is best to entrust your case to someone who really knows about this in depth.
This might seem to be obvious and straightforward, but unfortunately it is not – the process of finding a specialized lawyer is also complex! This is mainly because there is no standardized legal definition of a ‘specialist’ and thus any lawyer can claim that he is a divorce specialist.
However, you would want the best Philadelphia divorce lawyer who is actually an expert in this field. This can be accomplished in several ways. One way is to talk to your potential lawyer directly about your concerns and he should understand. Then, he should be able to substantiate his claims of being a specialist divorce lawyer. Another way is to approach law firms that specialize in divorce. This way you can be sure you have the right lawyer working for you who understands your situation and your pain and can help you out throughout the process.
*Secondary Skills: Secondary skills are important in certain cases of divorce when there is much at stake apart from the usual. For example, many divorces can get financially messy and it can take a lot of time and effort to sort them out. In fact, financial considerations are very important during any divorce and if you have sizable investments tied up, then you should make sure that you have not only the best Philadelphia divorce lawyer but also someone who is well versed in financial troubles of a divorce.
The secondary skills that a lawyer will require will depend on your particular case and is usually hard to generalize. However, you will need to decide what other problems your divorce might be facing and then choose your lawyer accordingly.
*Flexibility: Flexibility for a divorce lawyer is very important because of the uniqueness that each case presents. The way you and your ex separated has a lot of bearing on the case. No one likes court cases and lengthy legal proceedings unless absolutely needed. If possible, it is best to reach a settlement out of court and the best Philadelphia divorce lawyers understand this.
Of course, at the same time, your lawyer should be ready to get tough if your interests are threatened and need to be protected. Therefore the right mix of mediation and aggressiveness is required in a divorce lawyer and he should be able to change his advice and strategy according to your particular case.
WHAT TO ASK
It is very important that you get the best Philadelphia divorce lawyers working on your case and for this you will need to question them on various aspects that relate to your case at hand. This should greatly help you narrow down your choices and ultimately choose the right lawyer for your case.
Asking questions is important before the initial consultation for several reasons. Firstly, you should be able to select just the right lawyer for your case who not only has all the qualities that have been outlined above but who is also a good fit for your case, who shares your own vision, direction and approach for your case. This will ensure compatibility during the case and you can work together instead of working against each other. There are many cases when people want to change lawyers in the middle of the case, which can be quite a problem. Therefore it is important to select the right lawyer from the start.
Secondly, lawyers charge initial consultation fees so you should be able to gather all the relevant information before this so that you can make up your mind. When you ask these questions, it is always advisable to write down the answers because it will be easier to compare with other lawyers.
It is good to meet with a few lawyers before deciding upon the final one for your case, to select the best fit. When you question all the lawyers that you meet, you will know their strengths and weaknesses as relating to your case, and then you can weigh them to finally decide which lawyer will be best suited to handle your case.
*Expertise: As mentioned earlier, it is important for a lawyer to be an expert in divorce cases and not just overall experience. Thus inquire about what percentage of the cases handled by that lawyer were related to divorce and family law. Also inquire about how many years he has been working in this specific area and also whether he is practicing in the state or out of state.
It also helps to look at the educational or other qualifications. Certainly a Harvard law graduate is more likely than not to be a great lawyer. Look for any certification or training or other kinds of specializations that are in the family law and divorce area.
Also ask about recent cases and let him tell you about a case that was similar to yours, so that you can have the confidence that this person will be able to handle your case. Also, look for any other kinds of requirements like financial cases, etc. that may be relevant to you.
*Availability: Availability is an important issue to look for in any lawyer. It is not just good enough if the best Philadelphia lawyer is working on your case but is unable to really concentrate and spend time on your case. Therefore you should inquire about the lawyer’s current caseload and whether he will be able to take on your divorce case.
At this stage, it is also important to make sure that it is really the lawyer that you are talking to who is ultimately responsible and who takes up your case. There are various people at a law firm that will also work on your case and you should ask about them as well, etc. paralegal staff, associate staff, interns, etc. Make sure that your lawyer is the one ultimately responsible for everything.
Also, you should inquire about how often you can meet him and how long he estimates the case to take. Also, make sure that you are able to meet with not only his associates but also him as and when required. It is good to meet and interact with everyone working on your case, but when needed, you should be able to talk to your lawyer directly.
Finally, ask about how you can contact him – through phone or email and stick to it. Many lawyers might find email to be more convenient than a phone call unless it is an emergency, but you should be equally comfortable with that particular mode of communication.
*Fees: This is a very important part of deciding on your lawyer because you do not want to be spending a fortune. You should be able to get an estimate of what it will cost, overall. To all the lawyers that you meet, you should firstly ask about their hourly rate and also how it is charged. Some lawyers keep track of the exact time while others sell their time in chunks of 10 or 15 minutes. This may not seem significant but can make a sizable difference to your bill.
Then you should ask about all the additional people you will need to pay, like secretaries, accountants, etc. that directly or indirectly work on your case. This can form a significant part of your bill, so make sure this issue is cleared up in advance. Also ask for any additional professionals that you may require on the case who will also need to be paid, like psychologists or detectives.
Ask the lawyer to keep the fee structure straightforward and tell you all the expenses that you will need to incur. Do you have to pay for the photocopies? Do you have to pay for any additional services during the case? How are the fees handled if the case goes to trial? All these need to be cleared up before you can decide on one particular lawyer.
If you follow all the above advice, you will be able to have a great lawyer working on your case so that your divorce process can be as smooth as possible, mitigating any other possible sources of stress that you might have to face. The best Philadelphia divorce lawyers are ready to work for you, so you should make the most of their skills and expertise.