When you are going through the emotional whirlwind of a divorce or family law case, it’s easy to make mistakes which could have a drastic impact on your future.
Instead of reacting impulsively, you’re better off taking your time as you make important decisions, such as selecting a lawyer.
If you’re looking for the right firm of Portland family law attorneys, take note of some common mistakes to avoid when choosing a divorce lawyer.
1. Choosing a Friend to Represent You
It’s understandable: Going through a divorce is incredibly personal, and it’s hard to tell the details of your marriage to a stranger.
You may personally know one or a couple of Portland family law attorneys. But that doesn’t mean you should hire them to represent you in court.
While hiring your friend to represent you in a divorce is not a prohibited conflict of interest, it often puts pals in a difficult spot. There is an awful lot of information that must be disclosed to a divorce attorney about sensitive issues like sex and money.
Your attorney will need to know about these parts of your life in great detail in order to represent you effectively. If your friend was also close to your soon-to-be ex, that might put them in a sensitive position.
Finally, no worthwhile Portland family law attorneys will be working for free. Make sure that you don’t expect high-quality legal services to be given to you simply by virtue of a friendship. Even an expectation of a “friend discount” could turn out unpleasantly for you both in the future.
2. Hiring the Attorney Who Secured Your Neighbor a Huge Settlement
Testimonials from satisfied clients can be a lawyer’s best referral source, so listen when someone you trust makes a recommendation for a great firm of Portland family law attorneys.
However, no two divorces are alike. Just because your next door neighbor won a large financial settlement using one lawyer, doesn’t mean you should expect those results to automatically transfer to you.
Some circumstances may warrant a special focus. Consider the following:
- Do you have a prenuptial agreement?
- Are there children involved?
- Is this a same-sex marriage?
- Do you suspect your spouse of hiding assets?
All of these factors may differentiate one attorney’s expertise from another.
Your case may require an attorney especially skilled in disputing or upholding these contracts. Look into his or her credentials in light of your particular situation, even if you have been given a strong recommendation from a friend.
3. Engaging Someone Who Makes You Uncomfortable
Attorneys are trained in persuasion. So, be prepared when you interview prospective Portland family law attorneys. Many lawyers try to make a strong argument for you to hire them.
However, if you have any misgivings and don’t feel like you trust him or her, do not sign the engagement letter.
You are going to be working closely with this person for a long time. It is critical that you select someone you trust to have your best interests at heart and who will follow your instructions.
A common mistake made by people hiring divorce attorneys is choosing a “pitbull”. A “pitbull” is a lawyer who pursues the most aggressive means possible.
While this may be a good approach in some cases, it may not be the best approach for you. You may want to try an alternative dispute resolution to reach an agreement without the high costs and emotional pain of going to court.
When you select representation for a divorce or other family law matter, it’s crucial that you feel at ease with whomever you choose to be your advocate.
4. Getting Pushed to Proceed Too Quickly
Many attorneys will want to start legal proceedings right away. They will start filing motions and instigating discovery in order to take their opponent by surprise and gain the strategic advantage.
This might be perfect for you if you are in a hurry. Perhaps you or your children are in physical danger and need to get away from your spouse as quickly as possible.
On the other hand, marriages can go through many ups and downs, and often a couple may commence separation discussions only to find their way back to each other. You may wish to engage in couples counseling or workshops to see if you might be able to salvage the relationship.
There may also be financial reasons for delaying the dissolution of a marriage, especially if there is property at stake. Don’t hire a divorce attorney who is pushing for a speedy resolution if you and your partner want to explore other alternatives.
5. Settling for Someone Without Relevant Experience
Like all professionals, lawyers must meet state-mandated requirements for licensing. It’s important to check that the lawyer you choose to hire has passed the Oregon bar and is a member in good standing.
Attorneys usually list their biographies on their firm websites. Check to make sure that the attorney graduated from an accredited law school.
Look at his or her representative matters. Has he or she represented clients in cases similar to yours? Has he or she written articles on subjects that are relevant to your case?
While many attorneys have passed the Oregon bar, not all of them have the kind of experience your particular family law situation may require. If you expect a custody battle, you want to make sure that your lawyer has a strong track record in this kind of proceeding.
How to Choose Portland Family Law Attorneys
At this critical time in your life, you need to find the best possible person to help you navigate the legal challenges you face. Mistakes can be costly – both financially and emotionally.
By doing your research and following these guidelines, you can avoid many common mistakes people make when hiring a divorce attorney. To summarize:
- Interview prospects who have been recommended by people you trust
- Research their credentials and background
- Speak to their other clients
You are more likely to protect your assets, your children, and your peace of mind. The best outcome is that your lawyer will help you move on to the next (and hopefully happier) stage of your life.
Find the attorney who is right for you. If you would like to discuss your situation in detail, contact one of our attorneys today!