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How to Choose the Right Illinois Divorce Attorney for You

Posted on in Divorce

DuPage County divorce attorney

If you and your spouse have decided to file for divorce, you have made it past the first hurdle in the process. Coming to the realization that divorce is best for you and your spouse is no easy task and it can often take months, or even years, of self-realization and difficult conversations with each other. Deciding to file for divorce creates a new relationship dynamic that you have likely never experienced. If you and your spouse have children, there are additional issues that need resolving, which can also further complicate matters. When looking ahead to the future, you may be on your own for the first time in years, including making crucial decisions regarding who will represent you throughout the legal process.

 

Rarely do spouses who are divorcing have previous experience working with a divorce attorney unless they were married before and this is a second or third marriage. The hunt to find a reputable, compassionate lawyer can be daunting as well as confusing. It is important to find the right attorney to represent you to ensure your rights are protected every step of the way. In addition, you will likely be having private conversations regarding the details of your marriage for months or years to come. But what exactly makes an attorney the “right” one for you? What works for one person may not be suitable for another individual even if the relationship has similarities. By keeping the following tips in mind, you can find a legal representative who meets your needs and even surpasses your expectations.

Determine the Type of Divorce You Want

What many may not realize coming into their divorce is that there are actually a number of different divorce options available in the state of Illinois. Not all divorce proceedings need to take place in a courtroom in front of a judge, and depending on the type of divorce you see yourself having, you will need to find an attorney who is capable in that area. For those who are splitting amicably and are able to openly discuss their divorce together, an uncontested divorce may be your best bet. In an uncontested divorce, both spouses will come to a mutual decision regarding all areas of their divorce agreement, such as the division of marital property, child-related issues, and spousal support, without intervention from the court. This type of divorce is beneficial because it can save each spouse significant time and money. For those involved in an uncontested divorce, a collaborative law attorney or mediation lawyer can help guide you and your spouse to a mutual agreement.

 

Most couples will pursue a contested divorce, as it can be nearly impossible to agree on every single term within your divorce agreement. Those involved in a contested divorce may begin their legal procedures in a collaborative manner, with both spouses negotiating the terms of their divorce agreement with the help of their individual attorneys, then turn to litigation after failing to reach a resolution. Contested divorce proceedings are much more involved due to the contentious nature of the couple’s relationship and will involve the discovery process, hearings, and a trial for those struggling to come to an agreement. Many couples expect their divorce to go smoothly but then may see a side of their spouse that they have never experienced before. Even if you expect your divorce to be uncontested, it is advantageous to work with an attorney who has experience in both negotiation and litigation to be prepared if things take a turn for the worse.

Review Your Finances

It is not uncommon for one spouse to be the primary manager of finances. While this may work throughout your marriage, it can make things challenging when you are left to fend for yourself in the financial department. Before you begin to set up meetings with attorneys in your area, it is important to have an idea of how much you are able to spend on your legal representation. Remember, you will no longer have your spouse’s paycheck to lean on, so what your budget would have been during your marriage may be significantly different than what is available in your divorce. It may seem uncomfortable to discuss costs and financial obligations during an initial consultation, but this can be the ultimate factor that determines whether or not this attorney falls within your price range.

Check Out Reviews

There are two primary sources that you can look to for customer reviews: the Internet and your friends. Most people will turn to the Internet before making a purchase of any kind -- why should your attorney be any different? The Internet has the largest collection of customer reviews when it comes to businesses, law firms included. Whether you perform a quick Google search or turn toward attorney directories, you will likely find a wealth of information about attorneys in your area. You should also ask close friends who have gotten divorced in the past few years about their attorney experience. Friends and family members are a much more trustworthy source than anonymous Internet postings, and you likely share the same values when it comes to serious matters such as divorce. Be sure to use these reviews only as a reference, not a final determination. Remember that what one client experienced may be completely different than what you would.

Begin Shopping Around

Never commit to the first attorney with whom you speak. Think of choosing your divorce attorney in a similar fashion to finding a job. Doing online research and chatting with friends is not enough to narrow your search down to a single attorney. You should speak with at least two or three divorce attorneys before selecting one to represent you. By chatting with a number of lawyers, you can get a feel for their professional personalities, priorities, and overall feel of the firm. Some may prefer a smaller firm with a single attorney to get a more intimate, personalized legal experience, while others may wish to work with a larger firm that has a team of attorneys who can collaborate on their behalf. Whatever your preference, you should chat with legal professionals on both ends of the spectrum to truly find the best fit.

Prepare Ahead

Those who are searching for a divorce attorney are likely to be in the middle of an emotional rollercoaster. Perhaps you and your spouse have been separated for years and you have finally made the decision to divorce, or you may have been caught completely off-guard by your spouse’s request to end your marriage. Regardless of your circumstances, it can be easy to become emotional when you discuss the details of your divorce with your potential lawyer. In order to stay on track, create a list of questions or points that you would like to hit during your initial consultation. Most firms bill by the hour, and by spending an hour getting your emotions and feelings in check, you have already spent a good chunk of time and money. Be sure to reach a point during your initial consultation that you have a good sense and feel for the attorney’s personality and priorities when it comes to your case. 

Determine How Busy Your Attorney Is

Whenever you get involved in business with someone, you want to be sure that he or she has the time and energy to prioritize you. This includes anyone who is hiring a divorce attorney. While it may seem desirable to hire an attorney who is high in demand, he or she may be unable to balance all of the caseloads and give you the attention that you deserve. It can be challenging to truly have a sense of how busy your attorney is, but if you notice him or her answering calls or messages throughout your consultation, he or she may not be the right fit. The feeling that you get during your initial consultation can be telling of what your professional relationship, and the dedication to your case, would look like moving forward. 

It Is More Than Just Credentials

Working with a reputable divorce attorney should undoubtedly be a priority on your checklist. There are, however, other considerations that you should have when talking with prospective attorneys. Be sure to monitor whether or not your personalities work well together. Divorce proceedings can take a long time, especially if you and your spouse struggle to come to an agreement, and that means you could be spending months with your divorce lawyer. If you find that your personalities do not match up well, you may want to pursue another option. You should also be checking in on the attorney’s values throughout the conversation. If you are a parent, do they understand the importance of fighting for child custody? Or if you have been a stay-at-home spouse, will they fight for adequate spousal support on your behalf? You should follow your instincts and listen to your gut feeling during your consultation to see if the attorney in front of you is truly a good match.

Making Your Final Decision

Once you have done your initial research, spoken with a few attorneys in your area, and narrowed down your selection to one or two attorneys, it is time to make your final choice regarding who will represent you in the months to come. Divorce is undoubtedly one of the most emotional and personal legal processes that one can go through. You should be sure that the lawyer you have hired falls within your budget, can represent you regardless of the divorce process that you pursue, has years of experience and proven success, and matches well with your personality and values. Following your divorce attorney selection, you and your legal representative will get to work securing a promising future through the details of your divorce agreement. 

Contact Our Elmhurst Divorce Attorneys for Help

As you can see, making the decision to file for divorce is only the beginning of a long, involved legal process. Finding the proper attorney to represent you can make or break the details of your Illinois divorce agreement and your future. Whether you are in the beginning stages of finding a divorce attorney, are unhappy with your current representative, or would like to modify the details of your divorce agreement, the qualified legal team at Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC is prepared to help you. We understand the importance of finding the right attorney, especially with emotional legal proceedings like divorce. Our law firm prioritizes all of our clients so that they create a divorce agreement that benefits both them and their spouse moving forward. Regardless if you expect your proceedings to be contested or uncontested, you should feel confident in the legal representation by your side throughout the process. For help with your case, contact our skilled Park Ridge divorce lawyers today at 312-605-4041.

 

Sources: 

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/divorce-lawyer-advice_n_4661934 

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2086&ChapterID=59

 

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