You’re facing a divorce. Now what? During an already emotionally fragile time, you now need to make big decisions about the rest of your life. Decisions about your future. Your children’s future. Your financial future.
You won’t be doing this alone. Of course, you’ll need the guidance of the best divorce lawyer you can find. But where do you begin? And what do you look for?
Choosing the right New York City divorce lawyer is a personal matter. During one of the most wrenching times of your life, you want someone who is compassionate. Yet you want someone who will aggressively fight for you should it become necessary. You want someone who can see the big picture, even if you can’t right now.
Personal Recommendations for a Matrimonial Law Attorney in New York City
When looking for a family law attorney, personal recommendations are often the best place to begin. But you should always consider that, although these friends and family have gone through their own divorces, your situation is not their situation, your needs are not their needs.
Although a good resource, recommendations should not be the only criteria you use to choose the right matrimonial lawyers for you. You will want to carefully meet and choose any divorce lawyer on their own merit and how they fit with your circumstances and your needs.
Understand your divorce goals
If you want to make the process as amicable and agreeable as possible, you may want to consider mediation at the outset. Mediation is often the quickest and most cost-effective way to approach a divorce. This, of course, requires that you and your partner can find enough common ground to discuss and negotiate the terms of your divorce, your finances and child support and child custody. Many times, there has been enough acrimony built up over time that mediation is simply not possible.
Hiring a New York City matrimonial law attorney who specializes in a collaborative approach to family law is the next consideration. A collaborative divorce lawyer’s main focus is to begin the negotiation process to the mutual benefit of each of the parties while preserving a relationship that can serve a future of family harmony, co-parenting and child support. Again, this will rely on some form of agreement and compromise but can alleviate the cost and animosity of litigation.
If neither party is ready to compromise, you may be looking at litigation. In this case, you will want an aggressive litigator who will be a strong advocate for you, your children, and your financial future.
So the question becomes: what kind of divorce is yours most likely to be? Once you know that, you can go forward to find the right divorce lawyer based on those needs.
Preliminary Research for a Matrimonial law attorney
During your preliminary research of divorce lawyers, you want to choose two or three NY divorce attorneys with the background and attributes you’re looking for. Your personal references will come in handy but also cross-reference these with professional organizations that can offer referrals such as the American Bar Association or the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Request a few names of lawyers who devote their practice to matrimonial law.
You will want to make sure that the lawyer you choose is particularly experienced in matrimonial and family law. Although many firms practice multiple types of law, you’ll want a divorce lawyer with a great deal of experience in this one area.
Keep in mind that you’ll also want to choose someone who is geographically close for your convenience as well as being familiar with the judges and other divorce lawyers in your area. Whether you are in Manhattan or the Bronx, your lawyer should be located convenient to you and have knowledge about New York State family laws as well as that jurisdiction. As in life, it’s not always what you know but who you know. Divorce lawyers and family law are no different.
Conduct a Phone Interview
A phone interview is when you begin to get a feel for the fit between you and a potential family law attorney This will be a very personal relationship because you will be at your most vulnerable and sharing very personal information. You want to be able to trust the person you are sharing this with. And the nuts and bolts will be equally important.
Can you afford the lawyer? If the law firm has a high-powered reputation, will this lawyer truly be the one working on your dissolution or will he or she be handing parts of it off to associates and support staff? If so, you will eventually want to talk to those people as well. At what billable rate do these people get paid in comparison to the attorney’s rate? How responsive will they be to telephone calls?
Your divorce lawyer should have access to resources that will get you the best information and support for your situation. These can include certified divorce financial analysts, parenting experts, and forensic appraisers. You’ll want to ask how these experts will affect your overall legal costs. What other costs can you expect?
Although the divorce process is a legal transaction, it is also a financial and personal transaction. As your legal partner and advocate, your divorce lawyer is a part of that transaction.
Set Up an Appointment for an In-Office Consultation
Once you get beyond the phone call, you’ll want to get a good personal feel for the family law attorney you’re considering with an in-person interview. This is when you want to begin to trust your intuition.
Does this person make you feel comfortable? Is he or she patient with your questions? How much experience does he or she have, not only at the negotiating table but also in the courtroom? How familiar is he or she with the judges, the other divorce lawyers?
Good family law attorneys in New York will have no qualms answering questions about their experience. He or she should be completely forthcoming about what your options are and what options are not available to you. And a good divorce lawyer will also be forthcoming about how billable hours are calculated and whether your bill will be completely itemized and transparent.
You Are Interviewing a Divorce Lawyer to Serve You
Because it is a vulnerable time, many people feel insecure about asking a divorce attorney these important questions. It’s important to understand that this person will be holding your financial future and the future of your family in their hands. Make a list of specific questions you want to ask and make sure that you get answers to each.
Although it is an emotional time, emotions can be counterproductive when interviewing a potential divorce lawyer. You want to carefully and thoughtfully listen for anything that presents a red flag to you.
Is the lawyer self-involved and boastful? Does he or she speak disrespectfully about other divorce lawyers or divulge personal information about other clients’ divorces? Does he or she give you the time you deserve or are they fielding phone calls or interruptions by staff? Chances are, if you aren’t getting their full attention now, you won’t get it when you really need it.
Be Careful About New York Matrimonial Law Advertising
Advertising for law firms is everywhere in New York City and it is important to note that a divorce lawyer with a big advertising budget is not necessarily the one who will do the best job for you.
Billboards, bus stop advertising, and paid internet advertising just say that this divorce lawyer values the power of marketing. That may not have a direct correlation to their ability to represent your best interests. Conversely, if there is no website or ad presence at all or the law firm has a website that looks ancient, it can also be a red flag. Consider any family law advertising with a big grain of salt.
Be Realistic and Maintain Emotional Balance
Family law attorneys are there to represent you to the best of their ability. But he or she is not there to be a therapist or assist you in taking revenge on your partner. Your divorce lawyer is there to support you in the matters of your divorce and family law: your financial support, child custody and child support issues, and the division of assets.
Once you choose your divorce lawyer carefully, you will then want to let them do their job. At some point, you’ll have to sit back and trust that you have made a good decision unless there are glaring indications that your decision was wrong. Keep in mind that each time you pick up the phone, it will equate to a billable line item on your monthly statement. Choose your need for communication carefully.
That being said, if you’ve been unhappy with the progress or the advice or guidance you’ve gotten, you‘ll want to cut your losses sooner rather than later and find a new divorce lawyer. If you allow this to go on for months or even years, it will make the divorce more difficult and costly than was necessary.
Why Hire Juan Luciano Matrimonial Attorney?
The divorce process is never easy and finding the right lawyer is difficult. During my 15 years practicing family law in the Bronx, Manhattan, and New York City, I have taken great care to understand my clients’ needs so I can work in their best interests while guiding them through an emotionally-charged time. If you need an experienced divorce attorney who takes the time to listen yet can aggressively represent you when it is called for, contact the law office of Juan Luciano Divorce Lawyer for an initial consultation.