Choosing the right divorce attorney can significantly impact both the experience and the outcome of your divorce. To make sure you are choosing the best legal representation for your unique situation, there are crucial questions you should ask.
The first and most important decision you will make is what divorce process you will use. Although it is not as widely known as it should be, there are multiple ways to get a divorce. And the differences between them are profound, so which process you choose matters. It can determine whether you achieve your goals and how you experience the entire process. Different attorneys may be inclined to favor specific approaches. Litigation, for example, may be the default for some attorneys, but that may lead you down a path that doesn’t align with your needs. Every divorce is unique. You want yours designed to achieve what matters most to you.
Never hesitate to ask about the attorney’s philosophy towards divorce. Do they see it merely as a struggle over money or as an impactful reconfiguration of the family structure? What would they consider a “successful” outcome? As a potential client, you want to know about the attorney’s values, preferred methods of practice, and how they approach conflict resolution. Equally important is for the attorney to ask you about your priorities. After all, how can they even take the first step towards achieving the resolution you want if they don’t even ask you what that is?
When comparing Mediation or Collaborative Divorce processes to litigation, ask the attorney to clearly lay out how the processes work. Mediation and Collaboration view divorce not as a battle, but as a set of circumstances for you to weather together. This mindset places you and your spouse on the same side, working jointly to address the challenges of your divorce. These alternative methods often come at a lower cost than litigation, both financially and emotionally.
Will you be making the important decisions that will affect your family or will it be up to a judge? In Mediation or Collaborative Divorce, you and your spouse retain control over the outcome of your divorce, which means that the results are more likely to be satisfying and enduring. Research shows that divorcing parties who make their own decisions experience greater long-term comfort with the results than those who allow the outcomes to be imposed by a judge in litigation.
The key takeaway is that asking informed questions about process options, the attorney’s philosophy, and your degree of control over the outcome is crucial when seeking a family law attorney for a divorce. By engaging in these conversations right up front, you can make more informed decisions that align with your values and contribute to a smoother divorce process.
Ivan Alter is an experienced Westchester County Mediator and Collaborative Divorce Attorney. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call 914-861-2400 or visit https://www.ivanalter.com. Our office is located at 118 N. Bedford Rd. Suite 100 Mt. Kisco, NY 10549.