Choosing the right attorney for your divorce is not as simple as picking the first Arizona divorce attorney you come across online. When looking for the best attorney for your case, you want to find someone with whom you can establish a meaningful personal connection and communicate effectively. You also want to make sure you are confident in their ability to provide you with trusted legal counsel every step of the way.
Keep the following advice in mind when searching for the right attorney for your Arizona divorce case.
Starting the Search for a Family Law Specialist
In this day of highly specialized legal practices, it is worth looking for an attorney that focuses on family law. You can start by contacting an attorney you may know – whether professionally or personally – whatever their area of practice. Most attorneys have a preferred list of attorneys in other areas of practice to whom they regularly refer clients. Friends and family can also be a resource, particularly if they have worked with an attorney recently and were pleased with their representation.
Finally, the state or county bar associations can provide you with referral information. The State Bar of Arizona provides specialization certification in the area of family law. While this is not to say that attorneys without this certification are not as well qualified, the certification does indicate a high level of expertise in family law practice.
What to Expect When Contacting an Attorney
Do not expect free advice over the phone when you call. Most attorneys will want to schedule an appointment for an initial consultation and many will charge for this time. As in life in general, “you get what you pay for” can be especially true in the area of legal services.
The hourly rates of attorneys differ, as they should according to an attorney’s level of expertise and experience. While not every case necessarily warrants payment of top hourly rates, the facts of some cases do demand such expert legal advice.
The more you understand about the complexity of the issues in your case, the better you will be able to determine the level of expertise your case requires. For example, an attorney with just one year of family law experience may be well qualified to help you with a simple divorce action (and you’ll pay much less per hour), while a more complex case (such as those with multiple business interests) should be handled or overseen by a more seasoned attorney, justifying their additional fees.
Come to a Consultation Prepared
Come to your attorney meeting prepared to discuss financial matters. Before your consultation, make a list of specific questions you have and bring an inventory of:
- Your separate and community property
- Bank and investment accounts
- Other assets, debts and mortgage balances
- Your most recent few years of tax returns, if available
Further, make sure you bring a copy of any pleadings that have been filed, such as a Petition for Dissolution or Response. If an Order of Protection has been issued, bring a copy. If you and your spouse have made any agreements between you, bring a copy of the agreement or write down the specifics.
Should You Bring a Friend or Family Member To Your Attorney Meeting?
Many people wish to bring a friend or family member to their first appointment. Such support can be beneficial, but remember that the attorney-client privilege is waived if a third party is in the meeting. Under no circumstance should you bring children to an attorney meeting, however.
Your Ultimate Expectation
Remember, this is your life and the decisions made during a divorce can affect you and your children for many years to come. For this reason, it is important that you have trust and confidence in the person representing you. Make sure at the end of the meeting that you have a clear understanding of how the attorney charges for their time and what specific recommendations and actions the attorney proposes be taken. If you are not sure about an attorney after meeting with him or her, you have every right to interview others until you find someone with whom you feel comfortable.
Why Choose Hallier Stearns PLC
It is our personal philosophy at Hallier Stearns PLC that the best attorneys are those who involve and empower their clients to help make decisions about the direction of the case. Attorneys who tell you what the outcome will be or take action without your involvement may not be providing the best services.
Going through a divorce, separation, or paternity action can be a trying and emotional time. You will be most satisfied in the end if you retain an experienced attorney who philosophically and personally fits with your goals and values.
At Hallier Stearns PLC, we provide you with legal representation that keeps you involved, empowered, and informed. Contact us at Hallier Stearns PLC to determine whether we are the right choice for you.