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Tips on Hiring a Divorce Lawyer

Posted on : June 15, 2016, By:  Christopher Hildebrand
Tips on Hiring a Divorce Lawyer in Arizona.

Five Tips for Hiring the Right Divorce Lawyer

You might smile or cry when you think about how naïve you were when you married.  You probably thought that you and your family would never end up in divorce court. But don’t be too hard on yourself. Half of all those who say “I do” in this country finish by saying “I don’t.” It’s healthier and more realistic to view a divorce as one more round for experience than any kind of personal failure. This is easier if your divorce doesn’t turn into a long, drawn-out nightmare.

The key to moving through the divorce as quickly and painlessly as possible is to hire the right divorce lawyer. Even the best and the most experienced divorce attorney doesn’t have a magic wand that will make your life full of joy again, but what he or she can do is get you everything you are entitled to under your state law.

How do you find the divorce lawyer that will work well for and with you? Here are five tips to get you on the right path.

Jennifer, thank you for being my attorney. I could not have been more pleased with the outcome of my family court hearing. Everything you have done for me throughout this case reflects in the final ruling of the judge. You helped me keep my head together and taught me a lot about myself as a person. I learned so much about my life from observing and listening to you. I will take all the advice you gave me to continue taking responsibility for my choices, continue to put the kids' needs first, and always stay truthful. Your diligence, dedication, and persistence in my case made what seemed impossible, possible. You are a wonderful person and an amazing attorney and I am stronger and more confident because of you.
A Google User
A Google User
20:31 20 Sep 17
I just want to again thank the Firm for working with me all that it has. I could not have done anything without everyone's assistance. You, Chris and Stacey have been and continue to provide me with compassion and hard work towards my case. Also a very special thanks to Kip for taking my case in the beginning. Also continued support from him and his dedication to providing me with his expertise in this matter.
A Google User
A Google User
21:41 07 Nov 17
After interviewing several law firms, I came across Jennifer Shick, and her firm, who I hired to represent me for my Family Court case. Jennifer has extensive knowledge of the law and is determined to bring the truth to every issue involved within the case. Throughout my case, Jennifer was prepared meticulously as well as went above and beyond all of my expectations. Even when the other party tried to differ from the truth, lie to the Judge, and turn situations around, Jennifer remained attentive and provided substantial evidence to show the judge the facts as well as the proof to support what was the best interests of my children. Additionally, Jennifer helped me endure many difficult experiences, situations and inspired me to remain positive throughout the entirety of my case. Her kindness, compassion, and professionalism helped me through very difficult times and made the process feel a thousand times lighter on my shoulders. She truly has my children and my best interest at heart and I trust her perspective as well as her honesty on each and every aspect of my case. She lessened the burden on my shoulders and even when I felt like the case was not going to go in my favor, Jennifer was open-minded and reassured me that the Judge would, in fact, see the truth, which he did and the case went in my favor. After nine months of court, everything finally came together. I cannot declare how much Jennifer has been an outstanding attorney. She addressed each and every issue with diligence, she cares about her clients and their families. Jennifer genuinely cares about her clients and her dedication to the details of the case was remarkable. Overall, I am extremely pleased with Jennifer’s services and I am truly thankful that I was so blessed to have her represent my children and me. I highly recommend Jennifer as one of the best attorneys in Arizona and if the situation ever arises, I will definitely have her represent my children and me again.
Google User
Google User
14:58 04 Oct 17
Dear Stacey and Kip, How can I ever thank you enough for helping me through the most difficult time in my life? I couldn't put into words my heartfelt gratefulness. You both were so compassionate and professional at every given moment throughout this process with me. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You helped me to regain my freedom.
A Google User
A Google User
16:03 22 Nov 17
I was a client of Attorney Kevin Park for the dissolution of a divorce in 2016. And since I had never had the need to hire an attorney before for any purpose, I was somewhat apprehensive of the process. But the very calm and professional demeanor of Mr. Park eased my fears. He adeptly answered all my questions and I clearly knew the process and what to expect. And the skilled manner he communicated with opposing counsel was perfect. When it came down to negotiating with my spouse’s counsel, I knew I had selected the best attorney for my situation. What I noticed and appreciated was that he was using just the right amount of pressure with opposing counsel as was necessary. If you find yourself in this situation, you will want a seasoned professional like Mr. Park on your side. I'm very grateful that he was my attorney and not the opposition!
A Google User
A Google User
22:14 28 Jun 17
Chris is a smart and aggressive attorney for his clients. Chris always tries to reach a fair settlement of his cases. I’ve represented clients when Chris was the opposing counsel and while he is professional and amicable to work with, he does not back off on what he needs to do for his client
A Google User
A Google User
18:16 18 Sep 17
Kevin Park of Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys was just what I needed for my divorce. He was very approachable and personable. He was quick to recognize what I needed and provided it quickly and efficiently. I hope to never need a divorce lawyer again, but if I know anyone else who does, I will definitely recommend Kevin.
A Google User
A Google User
19:22 23 Aug 17
I feel that Tracey Van Wickler is certainly one of the best family lawyers around. She is logical, intelligent, and truly cares. Tracey always does what is in the clients best interest, does it well, timely and with integrity. She is good at keeping her clients informed as to what is going on and clear in her communication both written and verbally. I have recommended Tracey to other people and will continue to recommend her. I recommended Tracey to someone who was having issues with their ex-wife and his response was, “I know how good she is because I went up against her and she ate me for lunch”. This same person was so impressed with her, he even recommended her to someone else, WOW, that is impressive! I am exceptionally happy with her attention to detail, her ability to explain things in ways that are easy to understand, as well as her ability to keep everyone focused on the most important things. I would recommend Tracey to anyone who may be in need of her services.
A Google User
A Google User
17:44 23 Jun 16
I retained Hildebrand Law after interview a number of firms in the valley. Working with Michael C. was incredibly easy and informative. My case progressed in such a organized and thought out way to ensure that my needs were met. Michael was incredibly proactive and was able to see far ahead into my case to steer clear of some roadblocks. I would not hesitate to recommend Michael Clancy, and Hildebrand Law in general, to anyone.
Bassam Ziadeh
Bassam Ziadeh
21:20 02 Apr 18
I have worked with Hildebrand law for about 8 years. They are always ready to serve, provide guidance and give you a few options. When they provide you options they also take the time to walk you through the pros and cons of each and give you a recommendation of what is best, but will listen to you and support whatever course you choose after making and educated choice. I’d recommend them to my closest friends and feel Chris Hildebrand is now a friend to me.
Larry Flint
Larry Flint
21:53 27 Feb 18
Despite the unfortunate situation I found myself in, Chris Hildebrand @ Hildebrand Law helped me maneuver every step with professionalism, expertise, and even a sensitivity that was an added bonus.Chris and his staff helped me even when I didn't know I needed the help. In other words. . . they made sure we did not leave anything undone. And in the rare instance we needed the expertise of another professional, Chris knew exactly who to recommend.Chris also knew, because of his experience, what to anticipate down the road of litigation. That meant we were better prepared to meet the challenges head on, which lead to a more equitable and fair outcome. I appreciated that Chris did his best to meet my every need in a timely fashion, even if I had a simple question that required only a phone call or e-mail or if we needed to talk face-to-face.I highly recommend Chris Hildebrand @ Hildebrand Law, PC.
Sam Franchimone
Sam Franchimone
22:09 12 Sep 13

STARTING YOUR SEARCH

There is no shortage of attorneys in this nation. Narrow your search by applying these basic rules.

Only consider experienced attorneys

Hire an experienced family law attorney, not a general practice attorney – the kind who may do a criminal case on Monday, a personal injury appeal on Tuesday, and fill in child custody forms on Wednesday. Court rulings often change the fine points of divorce law quite rapidly and a generalist is unlikely to keep up with every new appellate decision. So only consider an attorney who focuses on divorce cases.

Hire local

You want an attorney who practices in the state where your divorce is pending, which is usually the state you live in. An out-of-state lawyer, even one with a flashy reputation, won’t know the ins and outs of the court the same way a local professional will, nor will he or she know the judges or the reputation of your spouse’s attorney. In addition, it can be a logistical nightmare to confer regularly with an attorney who isn’t in the same region.

Go with experience

Yes, every divorce lawyer has a very first client, but you do not want to be that very first client. Nor the second, nor the third. Experience counts in the law, and an attorney who has participated in many divorce cases is much more at ease with the law and the procedure than a new attorney right out of law school.

Don’t impose irrelevant limitations

Top attorneys come in all sizes, shapes, genders, ages, and races. Having a preconceived notion that you want your lawyer to look a certain way will serve you poorly in the long run. Don’t limit yourself by refusing to consider experienced professionals who don’t happen to look like the lawyers you see on television.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR DIVORCE

Every divorce lawyer will fall somewhere between two poles: combative and complacent.  You don’t want either extreme, but you can gauge where your attorney needs to be on the spectrum if you think through and understand your divorce.

Tips on Hiring a Divorce Lawyer.

Tips on Hiring a Divorce Lawyer.

Understanding your divorce doesn’t mean you need to guess the details of the property settlement or comprehend your spouse’s motives in moving on. Rather it means that you need to think through your history with your spouse to figure out how the divorce is likely to come down: whether you two will be able to remain courteous through the process, or whether the best endgame scenario for you will be tenacious fought but unbowed.

Considering that almost 90% of divorces end in settlement, it’s important that your attorney knows how to negotiate and work through issues. However, you will need more advocacy horsepower in some cases, including any of the following:

  • your spouse is a narcissist
  • your spouse is or has been physically violent with you or the children
  • your spouse is a bully who insists on getting his or her own way
  • your spouse has threatened you or vowed that you won’t see the kids again
  • your spouse held all the power cards in your relationship
  • your spouse was the wage earner and has cleaned out the bank accounts
  • your spouse abuses drugs or alcohol.

In any of these circumstances, or if for any other reason you are afraid of your spouse, you want a lawyer who falls farther toward the tenacious pole, one who knows how to stand up to your spouse and has the courage, character, and force of personality to do so.

MAKING A LIST AND CHECKING IT TWICE

You definitely do not snap up the first attorney who happens your way before you talk with other lawyers. Try putting together a list of experienced divorce attorneys gleaned from recommendations.

Who to ask for a recommendation? Start with your family and friends. Ask if they have gone through a divorce – personal recommendations are always helpful—but also ask if they know somebody who has. Mine your social networks.

If you have an attorney you hired for other matters, like making a will or setting up a trust, ask him or her for divorce attorney recommendations. Lawyers are aware of the reputations of other local lawyers, even attorneys in different practice areas, so an attorney can prove an exceptionally good referral source.

Ask other professionals you know and trust for names of good divorce attorneys. You could ask your accountant, psychotherapist, tax professional, teacher or member of the clergy if the person is someone you know and trust. Be sure that the people you ask for referrals are aware of your ground rules (e.g. local, experienced and focused on divorce).

You can go online to search. You’ll find numerous websites that provide client reviews of attorneys near you. You should look for a law firm who has multiple positive reviews on their website, as well as awards and recognitions.

Once you have a short list, pull up the website of your state bar association and look up each name. In many states, you can get a lot of information about attorneys from the state bar, including whether they are in good standing and whether they have ever been disciplined for breaking the law or violating the code of ethics.

FACTORING IN FINANCES

Most divorce lawyers charge their clients by the hour and require you to put down a sum of money, called a retainer, from which they withdraw money every month as they do work. The fee and retainer amounts are not set by law and therefore they can vary significantly.

It isn’t easy to talk about money for most people, but this is a discussion you can’t avoid, so get it out of the way sooner rather than later. Attorney fees are a great subject to raise in an initial phone call with each attorney.

Arizona Divorce Law.

Arizona Divorce Law.

Have a cost range in mind but be realistic: divorce counsel is expensive and you don’t want cut-rate representation. Once you get the fee information, ask about the possibility that the court will order your spouse to cover your attorney fees at least until the property division.

If an attorney is really out of your price range, don’t waste your time on further interviews with him or her. Move on to lower cost lawyers. Understand, however, that a less expensive lawyer could cost you more in the end either because they have to spend time researching issues that are already known by an experienced divorce attorney or you receive a less than fair ruling because the attorney lacked the advocacy and preparation skills of the more expensive divorce attorney.

EVALUATING YOUR TOP CANDIDATES

In the end, a friend or professional’s recommendation is enough to get an attorney’s name on your list, but after that, you need to do your own evaluation. It is critical that you feel comfortable with the attorney you select and that you have the same agenda. The best way to evaluate this is to schedule a meeting with each of the attorneys on your shortlist. Your less experienced attorneys often offer an initial meeting free of charge; whereas your more experienced attorneys will often charge a consultation fee.

Think of this meeting as a job interview, with you being the person hiring and the attorney being the job candidate. Don’t be intimidated by posh offices or accouterments into reversing these roles. The divorce is yours and the decision of you divorce attorney is also yours.

To that end, you’ll want to prepare a list of questions to ask the attorney. Include questions about background and experience, but also general questions to give you an idea of this attorney’s legal philosophy. Here are a few to include:

  • How many divorce cases have you worked on? How many have you handled as the lead attorney?
  • What is your experience with child custody battles?
  • How would you handle my narcissist (or whatever label applies), spouse?
  • What is involved in the divorce process and how long does it usually last?
  • How much of my divorce will the attorney handle him or herself? Who will handle the other matters? Can I meet that person or persons?
  • What is your personal philosophy on divorce? Do you believe that mediation or other alternative out-of-court dispute resolution is appropriate for this case?

At the same time as you jot down answers to these questions, take notice of the office, the attorney, and the attorney’s conduct. Jot down anything that bothers you, like if you feel he or she isn’t really listening, interrupt, stop to take phone calls or read emails. Other possible red flags include an attorney pressuring you to sign up that same day, discussing famous clients or telling you confidential information about other cases, speaking disrespectfully of your decision to interview other attorneys or insulting those attorneys.

Write down everything you learn, then take the time when you leave the office to make further notes of your impressions. Once you have finished interviewing your top candidates, review all of your notes before you make a choice.


 

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