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How to Find a Divorce Attorney

Updated on September 12, 2014

Types of Divorce Attorneys

If you're in the unfortunate situation of divorce, then the next important decision will be interviewing divorce attorneys.

The type of attorney you hire will depend on the complexity of your case. If assets and children are involved, then it is likely you'll be involved in a contested divorce and the costs will be higher.

Here are the different types of divorces that divorce attorneys specialize in:

  • Simple Divorce (uncontested)
  • Child Custody
  • Personal Property Settlement
  • Family Settlement
  • Business/Corporation Distribution
  • Spousal Abuse

Local Bar Association - if you need a reliable referral, then checking with your local Bar Association is your first stop. Most attorneys offer free consultations on a clients initial visit. The attorney will explain the basic steps involved in the process and discuss all expenses you can expect to incur.

Do You Really Need an Attorney? - the more complicated your case is the more advisable it is to have an attorney. Family courts are overloaded and judges sometimes make mistakes. There's also the fact that your ex-spouse (to be) hired a sharp, but tricky attorney, and you would be no match for all the tactics used in divorce proceedings: this is one of the main reasons people need attorneys.

Divorce Attorney Fees

One of the first fees your divorce attorney will require is a retainer fee.

A retainer fee is an upfront fee paid to your attorney so they can start developing your case.

Retainer Fees - these fees can range from $1000.00 on up, These fees are negotiable. Be Prepared - often times your retainer will run out before the case is closed - be prepared to come up with more money if this happens. It can be a nightmare if this happens in the middle of a trial.

Contract - to avoid any unexpected financial surprises, work out all the financial details upfront and make sure you get everything in writing. Keep copies of everything.

Misc. Fees - attorneys usually bill in 15 minute increments, so a five minute call is still billed at the 15 minute rate, Also make sure you know what the charges are for little things like faxes, paralegal services, notary services, research services and so on, if they are not part of the overall fee structure. Miscellaneous expenses can add up fast and quickly deplete your retainer account.

Flat Fee vs Per Item Fee - more and more attorneys are using a "flat fee" schedule for simplicity. If you think your case will not go to court, and it can be settled in the preliminary hearings, then a flat fee may be the best plan for you. This fee should include: paralegal services, filing fees, document services, notary services, delivery services, and other misc. services.

Finding The Right Divorce Attorney

Finding the right divorce attorney requires that you first decide on what type of divorce you are pursuing.

As mentioned, if your case is projected to be complex and has complications in a specific area, then you will definitely need an attorney who specializes in that area. It may be an attorney who specializes in child custody or has the resources to uncover hidden assets; having the right attorney with the right resources is imperative to your success.

If you have limited resources as far as attorney fees, you will need to prioritize. Choose the area(s) that you need to succeed in the most and hire an attorney you can afford.

Sub-Contract Attorneys - your primary attorney may need to bring in another attorney who specializes in one aspect of your case. By doing this you are only paying for those specific services that the second attorney is providing - this saves you quite a bit of money.

Construct a Legal Team - if your situation requires the services of several attorneys, then hire one primary attorney to lead the team. This would only apply to cases where there are several aspects to it and specialists in these areas would be required to properly execute your case.

Uncontested Or No Contest Divorce Cases

Divorce cases where there are little to no assets and custody is not an issue are called: UNCONTESTED or NO CONTEST divorces.

Do You Need an Attorney? - where a divorce is uncontested or considered a no contest divorce, the two parties may not need attorneys. The question is, is this the best thing to do? Emotions play a big part in a divorce. If the two parties can keep emotions to a minimum, then completing the divorce process can be accomplished without using attorneys.

How Comfortable Do You Feel Going to Court By Yourself? - the process of going to court and facing the judge can be stressful as well as mentally exhausting. Are you prepared to answer objections of your soon to be ex-spouse? Do you have the capacity to answer objections and be aggressive if needed? These are all questions you must ask yourself before undertaking the task of representing yourself in court.

Hiring a Paralegal - the entire process of divorce can be emotionally draining and having to do all the paperwork, along with going to court, can be to much for one person to do - this is where a paralegal can help. The cost of hiring a paralegal to do the paperwork will cut your fees in half, compared to what an attorney charges.

Filing Fees - If you decide to do everything yourself, the total cost with forms, filing fees and court fees can range in price from $250.00 to about $500.00: this will depend on the state you live in. Some paralegals will do this for you and just add it into the total fees.

Divorce is one of those ugly realities that occurs much too often. But, if you're in a situation where divorce is inevitable, then finding the right attorney is invaluable for protecting your rights and protecting you against the underhanded tactics used by opposing attorneys.

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© 2009 rb11


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    • rb11 profile image

      rb11 3 years ago from Las Vegas

      Nora, a flat fee is all inclusive for what the contract states. Most times flat fees don't include court fees. This is because cases that go to court have unknown expenses that cannot be accounted for beforehand. Flat fee proposals usually pertain to cases where the defendant and plaintiff agree to an uncontested divorce and assets are easily divided.

    • profile image

      Nora Moore 3 years ago

      That's a good idea to work out all the financial details upfront with your attorney. You don't want to be blindsided by different fees. The flat fee option sounds nice to me, but I suppose it would be best to do more research about it. If you chose to pay a flat fee but then your case went to court, would you have to pay more fees?

    • rb11 profile image

      rb11 7 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks for the clarification Phil. This part of divorcee can get fairly messy and emotional. These are even more reasons one needs a lawyer, the emotions run high in these situations.


    • Dada_Phil profile image

      Dada_Phil 7 years ago from Texas

      Good info but I think that there is some confusion that exists between what people think a contested divorce is and a dispute over the terms of the divorce. A contested divorce means that the respondent is challenging the plaintiff's claims i.e. adultery, cruelty, etc..,

      In Texas, contesting our no fault ground of insupportability would mean that the plaintiff challenges the allegation that the legitimate ends of the marriage have been destroyed.

      Thanks for your hub.

    • rb11 profile image

      rb11 8 years ago from Las Vegas

      Welcome and thanks for the comment, hope you never need this service.


    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      It looks expensive to rent those attorney services. Unfortunately I am still single. So I don't need their services. But this is new knowledge for me. Thanks for share.

    • rb11 profile image

      rb11 8 years ago from Las Vegas

      I hope you never need one after your married, thnks for the comments.


    • Ultimate Hubber profile image

      Ultimate Hubber 8 years ago

      I don't need one now as I am not married yet. But in case someone needs it, your article will be very helpful.

    • rb11 profile image

      rb11 8 years ago from Las Vegas

      Unfortunate reality in today's world.

    • Julie-Ann Amos profile image

      Julie-Ann Amos 8 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      Great info thanks