One of the biggest mistakes that people make when getting divorced is that they try to handle the entire process on their own. Our lawyers have seen firsthand how detrimental it can be when a person forgoes the crucial step of hiring an attorney and tries to settle their divorce by themselves. In this blog, we break down Chapter 3 from our attorney Michelle May O’Neil’s book, What You Need to Know About Divorce in Texas, to explain the importance of securing legal representation for your divorce.
Why You Need a Lawyer
No matter how simple you think your divorce will be, you need to find the best legal representation you can to help you navigate the entire process. Meeting with a lawyer should be your first step after you decide you want a divorce. Although you can try to take your divorce on by yourself, it can be incredibility difficult and you likely won’t be certain whether your rights are actually being protected. An attorney can guide you through your divorce and advise you about the law, but more importantly, they can approach your disputes objectionably, giving you the perspective you need to make informed choices.
Finding the Right Lawyer
The vast majority of people don’t know how to locate a good lawyer when they need one. In fact, statistics show that 68% of people spend less than 2 hours collecting information before choosing a lawyer. Most people say that being able to “trust” their lawyer is the deciding factor in their selection process.
Referrals from other attorneys is one of the best ways to find reliable legal representation. Although there are many referral lists you can find online, the lawyers featured on these sites often are not screened for their qualifications or their ability to meet your specific needs. Websites like the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, AVVO.com, and The Texas Bar Association webpage are good resources if you are searching for a divorce lawyer in Texas.
Meeting with an Attorney
Once you find the attorney you are interested in, you need to set up an in-person meeting. The meeting you have with the attorney is an important part of the decision making process, so bring all of your documents and notes that relate to your issues.
Ask about the attorney’s credentials and find out how many cases they have handled that are similar to yours. Have a list of prepared questions that you can ask at your meeting, these questions can include:
- What is the best, worst, and most realistic outcome of your case?
- What is the lawyer’s philosophy for handling your case?
- Does the attorney recommend an aggressive approach or an approach more geared towards settlement?
You should also ask yourself the following questions to determine how comfortable you feel with the attorney:
- Do you feel like you can trust the attorney?
- Did the lawyer seem to know what they were talking about?
- Did the lawyer provide you with a realistic assessment for your situation?
You should never hire the first attorney you meet with, interview at least a couple more before making your final decision.
Be Honest & Limit Your Expectations
Once you have picked an attorney, you need to make sure you have reasonable expectations about how your divorce will turn out. Your lawyer should point out the strengths and weaknesses in your case and explain the realistic outcomes that might be possible. Be warry of an attorney who guarantees a specific outcome, and don’t assume your attorney will serve as your psychologist, financial advisor, or tax planner. If you need advice in these areas, you need to consult with professionals in the field you are inquiring about.
Always be upfront and honest with your attorney, it is the best way for them to make informed choices about how to protect you. Keep your attorney updated about any changes that might impact your case and always be on time for your appointments.
If you disagree with your attorney about anything in your case, be open and discuss it with them. Although you have the right to hire a new attorney, you should give them a chance to remedy whatever issue is bothering you, as it will save you time and money in the long-run.
If you need help getting started on your divorce proceedings, you should contact our team of Dallas divorce lawyers to discuss what we can do for you. Schedule your consultation today.