Deciding that a marriage has reached the point where it cannot be saved is never an easy decision to make. Once you have made that decision, or your spouse has made it or you, the next step is to begin the process of legally ending the marriage through divorce. During the divorce, a number of important issues must be resolved. Ideally, they can all be resolved amicably by reaching an out of court Marital Settlement Agreement; however, it is impossible to know which divorces will turn adversarial and which will sail through the divorce process on friendly terms. Not knowing which direction your divorce will take is one of the many reasons why you need to have an experienced divorce attorney on your side from the beginning. If you have never needed a divorce attorney before, however, you may not know where to begin looking for one. The following tips for choosing the right divorce attorney will hopefully help get you started looking in the right direction.
- Determine your goals. This may seem like a strange place to start since the goal of every divorce is to legally end a marriage; however, not all divorces have the same smaller goals within that large one. For example, if you are a father and you want custody or your children, you will want to look for an attorney who focuses on father’s rights. If your marriage includes high net worth assets, you want a divorce attorney who is familiar with the issues that go along with dividing a valuable marital estate or if you foresee the need to fight for alimony and/or child support, you want a lawyer who can successfully wage that battle.
- Ask for referrals. Although you may not be comfortable discussing the details of your divorce with friends, family members, and/or co-workers, these people may be your best source for a referral. Almost everyone in the U.S. has either gone through a divorce or knows someone close to them who has, meaning most of the people in your life are potentially excellent sources for a referral. Do not waste this free resource!
- Check local, state, and national Bar associations. Bar associations are another excellent resource when looking for the right attorney. For example, the Nashville Bar Association and the Knoxville Bar Association. Likewise, the Rutherford and Cannon County Bar Association also has an attorney directory that may be of assistance.
- Research online. Although it is not wise to base your decision to hire an attorney solely on what you read on his/her website, the reality is that in the 21st century it is rare to find an attorney without an extensive internet presence. This allows you to find out a wealth of information about the attorney by perusing his/her website and even doing your own mini background check.
- Request consultations. Once you have managed to make a list of several potential candidates, narrow down that list to the top two to four choices based on everything you have done to date. Set of consultations with each of these “finalists.” Most attorneys offer free, or low cost, initial consultations. Because they are often free, however, you may have a limited amount of time to talk to the attorney so come prepared and make the most of your time. Have a list of questions typed out and ready so you don’t forget anything important or get side-tracked.
- Go with your instincts. Ultimately, your final choice should be based, at least in part, on your intuition. Out of the final few attorneys with whom you consulted, who felt like the best fit? Did you immediately “click” with one of the attorneys? Conversely, was there one you can rule out because he/she simply rubbed you the wrong way? Consider the same analysis for office staff as you will interact with your attorney’s staff more than with your attorney in most cases. Make your final decision using all of the information you have acquired to date and based on which attorney feels like the best fit for your needs.
Contact a Divorce Attorney
If you have additional questions or concerns about a divorce in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Tennessee divorce attorney as soon as possible. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.