What to Look For in a Divorce Lawyer – How to Choose Wisely

The field of separation and divorce has become far too nuanced and specialised for anyone who does it with the developments in family law over the last 30 years, including the introduction of equal sharing in place of the old common law regulations, the adoption of laws shielding military partners, and the adoption of support requirements and numerous municipal rules promulgated within the different circuits. When clients come to us with badly written separation agreements, and/or decrees that have been done by other novice lawyers, it distresses us. Just as winning at trial is better than getting a major appeal problem, it is much better to get the right attorney, one that can get it right the first time, than having to pay someone to resolve issues resulting from mistakes made in the first place. The errors are often very expensive and can not be corrected as seen in the series of articles I wrote for The Family Law News, a peer review journal of the Virginia State Bar, Family Law Division, entitled “Costly Errors in Multi-State Military Divorce; Or The Tale of Woe of a Military Wife,” published in the publication’s Fall 2007 and Spring 2008 issues.Interested readers can find more information about them at JacksonWhite Law.

The series of articles discusses the legal, strategic and procedural arguments that we used to defend a military retiree who was a Vietnam War veteran successfully. His ex-wife, after divorcing him six years earlier in Hawaii, was seeking to secure half of his military retirement pay and spousal benefits here in Virginia. Although we are always glad to achieve a good result for our clients, we felt sorry for the ex-wife, who in the original divorce action in Hawaii got bad legal advice from the hr counsel, advice that contributed to poor decisions that the Virginia Court considered to permanently bind her. In ruling for us in the case the judge told the ex-wife that the show should go after the solicitor in Hawaii who represented her in the divorce instead of suing her ex-husband.

So how do you go about seeking a decent lawyer for divorce? There are a couple of suggestions here:

Recommendation 1-Ask a lawyer

Ask him/her for a referral to a decent divorce lawyer, if you know a lawyer. He or she would possibly meet someone or more individuals who dedicate a large part of the law’s practise to separation and divorce and related issues. I have been dealing with separation and divorce for 30 years for example, and have an outstanding reputation in the local legal community. Among other attorneys, any divorce attorney worth his / her salt should have built a reputation. In general, attorneys know who is suitable for a particular kind of case; if they were facing separation and divorce, they definitely know who they would see.

Suggestion 2-Internet/Yellow Pages

The Yellow Pages and the internet can be a starting point of lawyers’ names, but not a great source of knowledge. In those areas, lawyers who do not mention separation, divorce, military divorce, and related areas such as custody and support or property division do not pursue cases and definitely do not devote a large part of the practise to those areas. Be leery of advertisements that have a list of all under the sun for washing. Do you remember the old saying, “the jack of all companies and the master of none”? Wouldn’t you rather have someone who takes the time to concentrate on family law for at least a reasonable amount of time than someone who perhaps devotes 3% of his/her practise to family law issues? Know that not everyone advertises a website or internet presence on the Yellow Pages. For instance, in the Yellow Pages, there are more telephone listings than there are attorney ads.