How to Pick a Divorce Lawyer in Dallas Texas or other places.
Here are some things we think you should look for when choosing a lawyer to represent you during the divorce process.
- Is the divorce lawyer’s practice primarily focused on family law? The law changes continuously. A divorce lawyer that focuses their practice in one area is more likely to be up to speed on recent changes in the law, the preferences of the judges, the current practices in each court, and the alternative dispute resolution processes such as collaborative, mediation and arbitration.
- Is the lawyer well regarded by his or her peers? Divorce Lawyers see each others work product every day when we have cases together. We see each others written work product and performance in the Courtroom and in collaborative divorce meetings. Lawyers know better than anyone who is ethical and who is not. Who is smart and hardworking, and who is not. One way to find this out is to call a few divorce lawyers in Dallas and ask them who the top three lawyers are that they would hire besides themselves and their firm.
- Has the lawyer been in trouble with the state bar association? In Texas, you would go to www.texasbar.com and enter the lawyer’s name to see if he or she has been the recipient of any public sanctions or disciplinary action.
- Spend the time and money to interview two to three Divorce lawyers in Dallas. Family law is very personal and you should feel comfortable with the lawyer you decide to hire. Observe how responsive the lawyer and their staff are during this initial contact. The number one complaint against lawyers is the failure to call their clients back in a timely manner. How the lawyer handles your initial contact could give you an indication of whether or not that lawyer and their firm are prompt in their attentiveness to client needs.
- Ask the Dallas Divorce lawyers you interview various questions, such as: What percentage of your practice is family law? What is likely to be their approach to your case based on the facts you have given them? Do they practice in both collaborative and litigation models? Do they feel more comfortable in collaborative or litigated cases?
BE AWARE that some lawyers are advising potential clients away from the collaborative approach, only because the lawyer is not comfortable with their own skill set in the collaborative Divorce approach or is not trained in it. However, they do not want to lose the business and therefore they advise the client that litigation is the best path for them, even if it is not.
- How long has the Dallas Divorce lawyer been practicing? If it is under five years, do they have a mentor?
How to Keep Legal Fees Reasonable
Divorce is expensive. There is a certain amount of work that has to be done by the lawyers, financial professionals, and mental health professionals with whom you are working in order to fulfill their professional duties. Some Dallas divorce lawyers have a reputation for churning the file to generate extra fees, but most try to resolve your case in an efficient, but thorough manner. There are, however, ways that you can help to minimize the amount of fees.
In every case, there is a phase of information gathering. In litigation cases this is called discovery and in Dallas collaborative divorce cases it is one of the early steps on the Road-map to Resolution. One important cost saving measure is to provide all of the information that is requested and to provide it in an orderly manner.
Financial information is one of the main categories of information gathering. This includes bank statements, credit card statements, deeds and closing documents for real estate, and so on. You will save fees by providing this information timely and in a chronological and orderly state. As an example, create a folder for each bank account and put the statements in date order from oldest to newest. If you are missing any statements, indicate that with a sticky note. Also, make copies of your original documents for the professionals. Do not incur the cost of their firms making copies of your documents and returning the originals to you. We all know that gathering the financial documents is a pain. However, be mindful of what you can do to make it as quick and easy as possible for the professionals to work through your documents.
A second way to keep costs down is to be on your best behavior and try your best to treat your spouse with respect during the process. As we have discussed in other chapters, behaviors such as withdrawing all the money from the bank accounts, having a boyfriend or girlfriend on the side, telling the children what a horrible person their father or mother is, or not abiding by temporary agreements can throw your case into a tailspin and cause the fees to go through the roof.
Another way to keep costs down is to not use your lawyer as a substitute for a therapist or a friend. You are likely paying your Divorce lawyer a high hourly rate. The divorce lawyer will charge you for any time spent on the phone or in person, as well as for writing, reading and replying to emails. Divorce is a major life change and you will need someone to talk to about the emotional aspect of divorcing. Try to identify a friend or hire a therapist to talk to about these things. Your lawyer is definitely willing to discuss the emotional side with you, but it is an expensive way to do it. In addition, your lawyer is trained in the law, not in psychology. A therapist will generally be a better choice for this need.
WARNING: If you decide to use a friend as your sounding board during the divorce, choose only one friend and ask that friend to keep the information completely confidential. It will not be good for your family or your case to have the details of your divorce spread throughout the neighborhood or your social circle.