If you or someone you know ends up needing a divorce or family lawyer, here are some tips to keep in mind as you are navigating the process of finding someone to represent you:
- Ensure that your lawyer has the required experience and expertise. A “dirty little secret” about family law is that it is guided primarily by a judge’s discretion, so the outcome is not hard and fast or black and white. There are subjective determinations for a judge to make after he or she reviews factors and circumstances. There is no room to have your attorney “learn on the fly” while representing you. Your attorney needs to know the court rules and the ever-evolving case law. In other words, you can’t go wrong hiring an attorney who has a deep understanding of the law and the legal system.
- Be sure that your lawyer has a defined approach to family law. There is a reason why family law is called “life law,” because it addressed income, children, business, work, education, health issues, domestic violence, and problem solving. Your attorney needs to have knowledge about how those areas of life interact and intersect with your matter.
- Ask your lawyer if she or he has experience in settling cases. The vast majority (in some situations, over 95%) of family law matter settle without the need for a final ruling from a judge. Does your attorney know how to draft a consent order or a marital settlement agreement to meet the requirements of the tax code, or the legalese that binds an agreement together, or the ability to think an issue through to the next level or the next potential outcome?
- Finally, do not cut corners with your legal representation. For all intents and purposes, you only get one chance to obtain the best outcome possible. Now is not the time to scale back. Sometimes you do get what you pay for. But do not be shy about questioning the charges you see from your attorney or from trying to do the “leg work” out of the attorney’s office so she or he does not need to do it and thus does need to charge for it.
Ronald Lieberman is a partner and shareholder at Adinolfi, Lieberman, Burick, Roberto and Molotsky, PA in New Jersey. An experienced attorney and litigator, Ron focuses his practice on all aspects of divorce and family law. Navigating the divorce process in New Jersey can be an overwhelming and emotional undertaking. Our firm is dedicated to helping our clients understand the process and achieve the best outcome possible for their family.