Deciding who your divorce and family lawyer in Georgia is a huge decision. Facing a divorce can be a stressful and emotional time. While you should not use your lawyer as a therapist, it is important to have an attorney that will make the process as easy for you as possible and be an advocate for you throughout the process.
Here are five qualities you should look for when hiring a divorce and family lawyer in Georgia:
1. Compassion mixed with a straight-forward and realistic attitude
Some divorce and family lawyers in Georgia are just in it for the money. They have no compassion for their clients, wanting as few details as possible to get the job done. On the other hand, there are many other attorneys who are so compassionate and empathetic to their clients that little gets accomplished in meetings that you’re still being billed for.
A mix of the two approaches is best. Your divorce and family lawyer in Georgia should be compassionate and understanding while still having a straight-forward attitude in meetings to keep your costs down. It is also important that they give you realistic expectations rather than platitudes.
2. Transparent billing and fee structure
Understanding how lawyers bill for their time and services is important, especially when you have never hired an attorney before. Attorneys have fee schedules included in their contract that detail what services are provided and at what rate.
Most divorce and family lawyers in Georgia bill in 10- or 15-minute increments. This is actually very important to understanding the costs associated with your divorce. For example, an email may only take a few minutes to read and respond, but you will still be billed for the full 10- or 15-minute period. This can add up, so be mindful of how you use your attorney’s time.
The contract will also detail how you are billed for time and services provided by the law office staff. Much of the grunt work of drafting and polishing documents and submitting filings are handled by support staff rather than the attorney themselves. You still have to pay for that time, and the fee schedule should provide hourly fee schedules for anyone that will be working on your case.
All of this should be outlined in the contract, which you should read carefully before signing and paying the retainer. Be sure that you understand all charges that can occur, and avoid attorneys that are not transparent in their fees or itemize their statements.
3. Reasonably swift case resolutions
It is important that your divorce and family lawyer in Georgia moves your case through the courts as quickly as possible, but it is equally important that they take the time needed to do the job right and get the judgment you need and deserve.
Some attorneys drag their feet and may wait months to schedule a hearing after filing initial documents. Others are more interested in making money on a large volume of clients rather than focusing on favorable outcomes.
Most counties in Georgia allow you to look up a lawyer’s case history. Look at how quickly they typically move cases through the courts. Some cases take longer than others depending on circumstances, so a good attorney will show a mix of cases settled quickly and those taking many months or years. There are many factors that can affect how long the divorce process takes, so look at things like time between the petition and the hearing. A high number of hearings in every case also indicates a habit of requesting continuances or a lack of preparedness when going to court.
4. Professional and well-organized law office and experienced support staff
Law offices should be professional and organized. It is common to see stacks of files on desks because lawyers and staff work on several cases per day. However, large stacks of files, file boxes stacked haphazardly, and other signs of disorganization and chaos could be another indication of the competency and efficiency of the divorce and family lawyer in Georgia.
It is also important that the attorney has professional, experienced, courteous staff to assist you and work on your case. Legal secretaries and paralegals that are rude or condescending are likely to take just as little care with your legal paperwork and other requirements of the case. When interviewing attorneys, ask about the experience level of the staff.
5. Fair-minded with a goal of making the divorce as painless as possible
Having an attorney ready and willing to fight for your interests and those of your children is a wonderful thing, but it is also important that the divorce lawyer seeks a fair resolution to the case. Cut-throat divorce attorneys are often only in it for the money, and they put unnecessary pressure on clients in that pursuit. A fair-minded attorney is more reasonable, which also makes it more likely that you can reach a settlement and avoid an emotional and painful trial.
Vayman & Teitelbaum fit the bill
At Vayman & Teitelbaum, our goal is to take legal matters off of your plate, allowing you to focus on the other aspects of getting through a divorce. We seek an equitable divorce agreement but stand ready to take your case to trial if necessary. Our attorneys are compassionate, professional, organized, and realistic with our clients. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.