Question

What should I look for when choosing a New Jersey divorce lawyer?

Salvatore A. Simeone - Family Law - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Salvatore A. Simeone

Weiner Law Group LLP
Parsippany, NJ
Phone: 973-403-1100
Fax: 973-403-0010

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Answer

Divorce can be an extremely emotionally charged process. When you are involved in divorce, there are a number of things you should look for in an attorney: experience, credentials and qualifications, where they practice, whether they are a mediator or litigator, how well do they communicate, and more. Do your research and gain insight into how the lawyer will approach your case before selecting one to represent you, as this person will be involved with your divorce and all related issues, such as property division, alimony (spousal support or spousal maintenance), and child support and custody. 

Experience

All lawyers start with no experience and build from there. However, a divorce is not typically the time you want an attorney getting their feet wet in family court. You need someone on your side that has been in court, that has sat through mediations, that has handled simple and complex issues. The best advice and guidance comes from lawyers who have been through a wide variety of cases over the years and can draw upon their extensive knowledge and experience. 

Credentials And Qualifications

Your lawyer needs to have the necessary credentials and qualifications to give you confidence. They must be in good standing with the New Jersey State Bar Association. Some legal areas of practice have certifications; this is the case with family law attorneys. Some family law attorneys are officially certified matrimonial attorneys, a designation given by the bar association after years of experience in the area of practice and the successful passing of an in-depth test. Some attorneys are accredited as Super Lawyers, a designation which puts them through an extensive vetting process to ensure they are of the highest quality. Other qualifications include past experience teaching classes, giving seminars, memberships to other legal organizations and more. 

Where They Practice

Usually, people think that they need to hire an attorney that works in the county where they live since that’s where the divorce may be filed. However, this is not the case: You can choose a lawyer from anywhere in the state to represent you. It is best to talk with the attorney first though. Some lawyers have more experience in certain counties than others, and the insight they provide can be invaluable. 

Style Of Communication

It doesn’t matter if you choose a male or female attorney. What does matter is how that lawyer communicates with you. Since divorces and the related issues can last beyond just the signing of the documents, your attorney will be with you throughout the entirety of the case and after. You want someone who will explain things to you when you need to know them. Things happen after business hours, so you need someone who will be available to you when you need them. Many clients get their attorneys’ cellphone numbers, which can be a big help in maintaining open lines of communication.

Whatever the type of communication you want – whether frequent or hardly ever – you want someone who understands your needs and is suited to how you wish your case to be handled. 

Litigator Or Mediator

Litigation is cutthroat; if an attorney prides his or herself on litigating, and the other side knows that, it may result in a better settlement if someone is hoping to avoid that avenue of resolution. Mediation and negotiating settlements takes finesse; if an attorney is fluent in the process of mediation and negotiating settlements, he or she may be better suited to the give and take that happens in that process. Ideally, you should seek an attorney who can do both litigation and negotiation, as having that multi-faceted experience can work to your advantage regardless of how the case progresses. 

Negative Reviews Or Complaints

It is essential to understand that negative reviews on the Internet are very different from complaints made to the bar association. Anyone can post a negative review on social media, but bar complaints are thoroughly investigated and examined before any action is taken. Take all reviews with a grain of salt; what one client complains about on social media may be something you are looking for.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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