What to look for when choosing a family law or divorce lawyer

Experience Counts: Divorce is often a painful, stressful, and confusing time of life. You want an experienced divorce attorney to help you explore the issues honestly. Look for a lawyer who has handled cases similar to yours.

Can We Talk? Good communication skills are the hallmark of a good lawyer and good communication begins with listening. Your lawyer needs to listen in order to understand your fears, concerns, and goals so he or she can develop a strategy to protect your interests.

Sometimes I hear people say, "I want a lawyer who is on my side." Your lawyer is on your side when he tells you the truth-even when he knows you won't like it.

Good Judgment Must Be Earned, Not Book-Learned: Your divorce lawyer will help you make some of the most important decisions of your life. Make sure you have confidence in the judgment of the lawyer you hire.

Beware of Promises: Lawyers should never and can never promise a particular outcome in a case. There are simply too many variables.

However, there are a few promises I CAN make to you as my client. I promise to listen closely, to return your phone calls within 24 hours, and to provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions about your case.

The Good News and the Bad News: You need to know the truth about your situation if you want to develop a realistic plan. A good attorney is objective and will tell you what you need to know to protect your interests and keep you out of trouble. Sometimes that means saying "no."

Problem Solving: Some people say they want a lawyer who will "fight" for them. Certainly that is an essential skill, but far more difficult to gain is the knowledge of when to fight and when (and how) to reach a fair out-of-court settlement that protects your interests. That requires creativity, maturity, and sound judgment.

If you suspect a lawyer failed "works well with others" in grade school, ask yourself this: "Do I need more conflict and stress in my life, or less?" and "Will this help my children?"