7 Tips on Hiring the Right Alabama Divorce Attorney
If you are involved in an Alabama family law case, one of the most important decisions that you will make is your choice of attorney. It is my opinion that hiring the wrong Alabama lawyer for your particular case is one of the ten worst divorce mistakes you can make. The good news is that you can avoid this mistake by knowing some important tips to help you hire the best Alabama family law attorney to suit your needs.
Do not represent yourself in your divorce case
In an uncontested divorce, one spouse will often hire an Alabama divorce lawyer and the other spouse will not. The other spouse relies on the first spouse’s attorney to prepare the paperwork and trusts everyone to be fair, which is usually a mistake.
In Alabama, an attorney can only represent one spouse in a divorce. This lawyer has a duty to the client only. It is my opinion that the party who is not represented in an uncontested case often becomes victim to an unfair settlement.
If you are going to use one attorney, make sure it is your Alabama divorce attorney. If your spouse wants to hire the lawyer to prepare the settlement, you can hire your own Alabama lawyer to review the agreement. Never sign any settlement without having a qualified Alabama divorce lawyer review it first. The cost to hire an attorney to just review settlement documents is usually not expensive. This document review can often save you a lot of money in the long run.
Don’t try to save money by hiring the cheapest Alabama lawyer you can find
Based on my experience, it is my opinion that if you hire a cheap lawyer, the attorney may sometimes cut corners or fail to handle your case correctly. This improper handling can cost you more money by paying a second attorney to fix any errors. Even then, there is no guarantee that the new lawyer can get your case back on track. It is much safer and smarter to hire the best Alabama divorce attorney that you can afford.
Do not hire a general practitioner
Some people assume that any lawyer licensed in Alabama can handle their divorce case. While it is true that any Alabama lawyer is licensed to handle divorces in this state, it is my opinion that there is a big difference between an attorney with a general practice and a serious family law attorney.
You would not want your family doctor to do your brain surgery or perform your heart transplant. For similar reasons, it is usually a bad idea to let the lawyer that probated your father’s will handle your divorce or child custody case.
A serious Alabama family law attorney devotes most of their practice to family law cases. This devotion enables a family law attorney to keep up better with the latest Alabama divorce laws, tips and techniques.
It is my opinion that a lawyer who only occasionally handles a divorce can be unfamiliar with the latest changes in Alabama family law or the best strategy to use. This inexperience and unfamiliarity can negatively affect the outcome of your case. Always hire a qualified Alabama family lawyer to handle your family law case.
Do not hire an uncontested Alabama divorce attorney to handle a contested divorce case
It is good to try to settle your case without a lengthy, expensive court battle. You should make a reasonable effort to discuss the issues with your spouse if you believe that you can settle your divorce. However, it is important to be realistic and not mistake wishful thinking for a true chance of settlement.
Some people want their case to be simple and uncontested so badly that they are in denial of the facts. These people think that because they want an uncontested divorce, they should hire an uncontested Alabama divorce attorney. If you hire an uncontested divorce lawyer, this will not force the case to settle.
An uncontested divorce attorney is a lawyer who does almost nothing but uncontested Alabama divorce cases. It is my opinion that an uncontested lawyer’s practice is often not structured to handle the complexity of a contested divorce. Also, most uncontested divorce lawyers are not trial attorneys and usually do not have much experience with serious trial preparation and strategy.
Any Alabama lawyer who routinely handles contested divorces can easily handle an uncontested one. If your spouse hires an experienced contested divorce attorney, it is my opinion that you could find yourself unprepared and ill equipped to match your spouse’s tactics.
If your attorney is not a good fit for your case, it can cost you unnecessary financial hardships. Hiring the wrong attorney could cost extra legal fees when you need to hire a serious Alabama divorce lawyer to take over your case later. Another more serious consequence could be a less favorable outcome in your divorce.
If you know that you are facing an uncontested divorce, you may not need a contested divorce attorney, but it is important to make sure. Before you hire an Alabama divorce lawyer, talk to your spouse enough to know if your case will be amicable or ugly. If you can’t have a civil conversation with your spouse, it is unlikely that you will have an uncontested divorce.
Don’t assume that any competent Alabama family law attorney will be a good match for your divorce
Some people realize they need a serious Alabama family law attorney to handle their divorce. These people find or are referred to an excellent highly-qualified Alabama lawyer. They think, “Wow! This attorney really knows this stuff! This is who I need to hire.” These people stop their search for legal representation and hire the first competent Alabama attorney that they find. However, it is my opinion that there are a few more questions these people need to ask before deciding to hire a lawyer.
Every lawyer’s personality is unique. Different lawyers have various styles of approaching cases and distinctive ways of communicating. Because of this diversity, before hiring an Alabama lawyer, you should ask yourself if you can communicate easily with that attorney.
Does the lawyer take the time to explain things to your satisfaction? If the lawyer is evasive or brushes you off, then you should look elsewhere. You should notice if the attorney listens to your needs and seems genuinely concerned about the outcome of your divorce.
Is the attorney confident and enthusiastic about representing you? Will the lawyer that interviewed you personally handle your case or will you be passed off to an associate later? You should ask for a detailed explanation of the legal strategy that the attorney plans to use to accomplish your goals. Your Alabama lawyer should be able to tell you the immediate steps that are planned in your case and why. Your Alabama attorney should also map out a long-term strategy based on the facts known at that time.
Your relationship with your family law attorney should be a partnership. Both the lawyer and the client have important jobs during the case. You must be able to work well together and communicate well with each other if you want the best possible outcome in your Alabama divorce or family law case.
Don’t hire a divorce attorney who only has one style
The proper handling of most cases requires a variety of legal skills. The most effective Alabama lawyers adapt their approach to your divorce. They are good diplomats, good negotiators and good fighters. These attorneys do not stubbornly try to make your case fit their personality or strengths.
Unfortunately, it is my opinion that some qualified lawyers only have one style. Some Alabama attorneys are aggressive all the time, even with their clients. Others are too agreeable, even in the face of unreasonable demands from the opposing attorney.
If they are only comfortable with one style, these attorneys may apply that approach to every case. It is my opinion that these attorneys often expect the same degree of success in every circumstance, which can limit the strategy options available to the client. It is better if your Alabama lawyer’s personality and skills are well-rounded.
Don’t hire a divorce attorney who seems too willing to tell you what you want to hear
It is my opinion that a few attorneys are not entirely sincere in their representations to potential clients. Unfortunately, a few Alabama lawyers will make guarantees to clients or exaggerate their expectations of success. These lawyers will tell the client anything they want to hear to get hired on the case. Making guarantees is against the ethical rules that govern Alabama attorneys.
An attorney can make promises to work hard for you. However, if a lawyer makes promises or guarantees regarding the outcome that you will get if you hire them, they are not trustworthy. If an Alabama lawyer guarantees a result, you should look elsewhere for legal representation.
You should seek to hire an attorney who is confident about handling your case. However, this confidence should be based upon solid analysis that the lawyer is willing and able to explain. The best Alabama attorneys will tell you honestly what outcomes they believe are possible based on your circumstances and why. These lawyers will be able to tell you how to increase your chances of achieving the best available outcome, but will also make it clear that there are no guarantees. Even if an attorney is confident of a favorable outcome, the attorney will also give you a basic explanation of the most likely things that could go wrong in your case. In other words, your Alabama attorney should be open, honest and realistic about the possible outcome of your divorce case.
Contact The Burleson Firm
It is important to consider these seven tips when choosing your family lawyer. Hire an Alabama attorney that you can trust. The Burleson Firm has been helping clients with divorce and family law issues for over 20 years. Let The Burleson Firm schedule a no-obligation conference with a serious Alabama family law attorney to guide you through your divorce.
For a free phone consultation, call us at 1 (205) 795-2033.