In today’s legal market, with dozens of attorneys and law firms clamoring to handle your divorce case, it is of the utmost importance to understand what you should really be looking for in a divorce lawyer. Many say they are the best, but very few can actually deliver on that promise. New Mexico Legal Group’s managing attorney, David Crum, has written an eBook entitled: “8 Secrets to Hiring a Great Divorce Lawyer.” You can download that entire eBook for free (just above). In the meantime, here are the three most things you should understand about your divorce.
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A Successful Divorce Starts With Finding The Right Lawyer
You Have Many Options – but Not All Divorce Lawyers Are Qualified for All Possible Divorce Options
Even lawyers who handle a large number of divorce and family law cases may not have the skills necessary to provide representation as it relates to all of your divorce options. In particular, divorce and family law has evolved to include a large number of mediated and collaborative divorce cases. If the attorney you are considering hiring does not have experience in these areas, you are greatly limiting your options. Your attorney should have experience in the following types of divorces:
UNCONTESTED DIVORCE: If you and your spouse are in general agreement about getting a divorce and dividing up assets and debts, and if you have a general understanding of how your cases should be resolved, then you may be able to file an uncontested divorce. This type of divorce takes less time and costs you less money than if your case were to go through litigation. For this option, you will need an attorney who is experienced in negotiation and effective drafting of legal documents.
MEDIATED DIVORCE: In a mediated divorce, one attorney handles the case and acts as a neutral third party. He or she represents neither spouse and provides no legal advice but helps both spouses work toward a resolution of their case. The process is flexible and confidential, and it keeps you and your spouse in control of your divorce and out of court. Unfortunately, very few lawyers have the experience and skills to mediate a divorce effectively, and many will not even bother to explore this option with you. If you and your spouse can still communicate effectively about the issues in your divorce, mediation should always be explored as the first option in your case.
Collaborative divorce is a specialized divorce process that is completely controlled by the parties and their attorneys. The best way to think about it is that it is like building a container around your divorce process, and everything happens within that container, according to your agreements. The parties also build a team of qualified professionals, depending on the unique needs of their case, that help them navigate their divorce, make informed decisions, and ultimately resolve their divorce case in a more efficient, and less emotionally draining manner.
LITIGATION: This is when your attorney files a petition for divorce and takes it through the normal procedural steps for litigation, which may include numerous hearings and possibly a trial. Effective litigation work is highly specialized and requires a very specific set of legal skills.
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Not All Lawyers Practice or Even Understand Divorce and Family Law
Family law should compose at least the majority of the practice of the person you hire to handle your divorce. The ideal situation is for your lawyer to practice only divorce and family law.
An attorney who invests all of his or her time handling family law cases is more likely to have the knowledge and experience you need to succeed and obtain your best possible resolution. An attorney with that kind of experience will understand your specific legal issues.
Your Attorney Should Have Experience in Your Jurisdiction, in Your Courthouse, and in Front of Your Judge
Judges often have different approaches to divorce cases based on their caseloads, their general approach to issue resolution, and how they interpret the law. These factors will dictate how your attorney presents your issues to the judge. Sometimes your case may take place in one of the smaller towns in New Mexico, and you would rather hire someone from outside of your jurisdiction with more training and experience in divorce and family law. Ask questions about who the attorney knows. The answers will provide insight into the judge who will be hearing your case and how the attorney will prepare for that judge.
You also want an attorney who has built credibility and trust in New Mexico with judges and other attorneys in the family law community. It often helps to run an Internet and social media search using a potential attorney’s name to determine how he or she is involved in and perceived by the local community.
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