How to Choose the Right Attorney for Your PA Divorce

QUESTION: What mistakes might a lawyer make that doesn’t focus their practice on family law?

Ending a marriage can be overwhelming. There are many decisions to be made. Who will care for the children? Where will they live? Will you stay in the marital home? Will the house be sold? What about the bills? There may be changes in every aspect of your life.

Your divorce attorney will look out for your interests as you navigate these changes. His job is to reduce your stress as you take steps towards a better future. But, first you have to hire an attorney. Here are six tips that can help you find the right lawyer for your Pennsylvania divorce.

  1. Choose a family law attorney. The lawyer who helped you after your car accident might be an excellent personal injury attorney, but he may not be familiar with the nuances of family law in your state and county. A family law attorney will have the knowledge and experience needed to efficiently represent you.
  2. Get referrals. Your personal injury lawyer may not be able to handle your divorce, but he probably knows someone who can. Get referrals from attorneys, clergy, accountants, and counselors, as well as divorced friends and family members.
  3. Do your research. One you have referrals, check the attorney’s credentials. Make sure the lawyers you are considering are members of the American Bar Association or the Pennsylvania Bar Association. Check the attorney’s website and LinkedIn profile. You may also want to check the attorney’s AVVO rating. AVVO has ratings, reviews, and disciplinary records for lawyers in every state.
  4. Choose an attorney with experience handling divorces like yours. If you and your ex can agree on most of the details of your divorce, you may prefer an attorney who uses mediation. If you are going through a contentious divorce, you will want an attorney with courtroom experience. If you and your spouse have considerable assets, you may want to work with an attorney who has access to a forensic CPA or appraiser.
  5. Interview your top choices. The interview gives you a chance to meet the attorney and get his legal opinion. It is also an opportunity for you to see how you will get along with the attorney. You should choose a lawyer who speaks to you English, not legalese. If you don’t feel comfortable, choose another lawyer. Watch out for lawyers who make guarantees or promises. There are no “sure” outcomes.
  6. Choose an attorney you can trust. Since you will share personal information, the attorney should also be someone you trust and feel comfortable with. If you don’t like an attorney, choose someone else.