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Five Things You MUST Know Before You Hire a Divorce Lawyer

Divorce can be one of the most stressful events in your life. Dealing with divorce for the first time can seem extremely overwhelming and stressful. If you are going through a divorce usually you feel uncertain about the future because you don’t have any experience with divorce or how it works. The internet is available to most people, so you can research divorce until you realize that you are in way over their head, and that you need some help. Let’s face it, divorce requires knowledge about child support, physical custody, legal custody, retirement plans, real estate, finance, tax law, and child safety laws, which lawyers spend years studying in law school. But how do you know which attorney to choose from? Here are five things you must know before you hire a divorce lawyer:

Attorney Personality

Many people go into hiring a divorce attorney with the misconception that they need a very aggressive, angry attorney in order to get the best deal in their divorce. These attorneys are sometimes known as “Bull Dog” attorneys. You should not hire a “Bull Dog” attorney for your case for two very good reasons: First, you have to work with this attorney. Your divorce is going to last at least three months, most likely it will go on for four to six months if not longer depending on whether you can reach an agreement or not. If you hire a “Bull Dog” you will have to deal with a “Bull Dog.” A lot of times this results in less communication from your attorney, less information about your options, less involvement in the strategy of your case, and less satisfaction with the result at the end.

Second, attorneys are all trained to negotiate and advocate. Family law is extremely broad and allows for a tremendous amount of flexibility to negotiate and settle your case, which in turn saves you money. When an attorney is too aggressive at the outset of the divorce case, it results in more arguing, more legal work, more hearings, and ultimately much higher fees. In the end, the result is the same as if you had just gone to mediation and resolved the matter there. Most attorneys are happy to go to court for you and advocate extremely well for you, but you also want an attorney who can negotiate a great settlement for you for the least amount of fees possible so you can move forward with your life.

Billing Rates

Attorneys usually bill their time in six (6) minute pieces. This is pretty common among all attorneys. What varies is their hourly billing rate and their initial retainer. These amounts are very important because they can have a huge effect on your case. A retainer in Utah means a deposit. The attorney takes this money up front, and then earns it over time. For example, if Attorney A bills $250.00/hour for his/her work and requires a $2,000.00 retainer, the attorney would need to work eight (8) hours to earn the full retainer. Because the retainer is more of a deposit, how much an attorney requires is not really that important.

What you need to know is that if you hire an attorney for $250.00 per hour, and your case takes 20 hour to complete, you will have paid $5,000.00 for your divorce. But, if you hire an attorney that bills $225.00 per hour, and your case takes 20 hours to complete, then you will only pay $4,000.00 for your case. That is a difference of $500.00. Keep in mind that the attorneys who charge you a higher hourly rate are not necessarily better attorneys or more experienced. They simply charge more for the same, or sometimes worse, service.


Experience is extremely important in a divorce case. Divorce law changes frequently, and because it is based mostly on fairness, the only way to know how a certain commissioner or judge will rule in a given case is to have argued in front of those commissioners and judges in the past. Many attorneys who are just starting out practice divorce law and many firms that claim to handle divorce law take the cases only because they need the income, not because they specialize in divorce cases. When you are interviewing attorneys, make sure to find out how much of their practice deals with family law, specifically divorces. An attorney who has practiced for thirty (30) years but only handles a couple divorces a year will be less qualified than an attorney who has practiced for five (5) years but has spent their entire career handling divorce cases. For example, at Ammon Nelson Law, PLLC, family law is all we do, and divorces make up a large percentage of our case load.

Free Informational Guide

When you are interviewing attorneys for your divorce case, make sure to ask them for their free informational guide. Don’t take their word for it that they know what they are talking about. It is easy to fake it for a thirty (30) minute consultation. If they know what they are doing, they will have a free guide that they can give you that reviews what you have discussed in the consultation or gives you additional information about divorce. Don’t take their word for it, get their informational guide.

Firm Structure

Divorce lawyers handle their offices differently. Some do not have secretaries and handle all of the work themselves keeping them so busy they are unable to keep in touch with their existing clients. Other lawyers have paralegals that end up handling most of your divorce case, while the attorney plays golf. Other lawyers are so busy practicing different areas of law, they forget all about your divorce case. Look for an attorney who handles all of his/her cases without the assistance of a paralegal, but who manages a smaller case load so that they will be accessible to you. You do not want a paralegal doing all of your legal work; otherwise you wouldn’t have hired an attorney. You don’t want an over-loaded attorney, because you want your case to get the attention it deserves. You don’t want an attorney who is busy handling cases other than divorce cases because you want to be a priority. It is better to get a voice mail once in awhile when you call your attorney with a return call from your actual attorney, then to have a paralegal answer your call every time just to tell you they can’t give you legal advice.

Remember these five tips when you are interviewing your divorce lawyer so that you hire the right attorney for you and for your case.

To Download the FREE Utah Guide to Divorce, CLICK on the Guide Below!

51 comments to “Five Things You MUST Know Before You Hire a Divorce Lawyer”

  1. I like that you talk about how important it is to consider the attorney’s personality. I didn’t realize that this could play such a big role in who to hire although it makes sense you’d want to hire somebody who you can get along with that wouldn’t be too aggressive when fighting the case. Thanks for the post; you have a lot of great information and it could really help anyone who’s dealing with a divorce.

  2. I didn’t know attorneys billed by six minute increments. I guess they go by the tenth of an hour. It’s probably a good tip to be prepared with written questions and important notes whenever you meet, to be prepared then.

  3. My brother is looking for a divorce lawyer so I wanted to figure out what I should help him look for in one. I’m glad that you talked about billing rates for a divorce lawyer, and how they do them in a 6 minute chunk. I think that it’s really helpful to know how a divorce lawyer bills before you hire them, so I’ll have to make sure my brother asks! Thank you!

  4. Thank you for talking about how divorce law changes frequently and it is important to choose an attorney that has the proper knowledge of current laws. It makes sense that taking the time to educate yourself about this and to shop around can help you find the best lawyer for your type of case. My brother is getting divorced and asked me about attorneys, so I wanted to learn a little before I talked to him.

  5. It really is important for people to understand that there are different kinds of divorce attorneys that take different approaches to the case. For example, aggressive attorneys are usually good if you end up having to take your divorce case to court. It really is important that you consider how you want your divorce case to proceed before you commit to any specific divorce attorney.

  6. A friend of mine has been thinking about getting a divorce for some time now, and they wanted to hire an attorney to help things go smoothly. I really like that you say to find out if they are trained to negotiate with an advocate. It would be nice to know that you are going to get the best out of it.

  7. I appreciate your tips for hiring a good lawyer for a divorce. My wife and I are getting one, and with our three kids, I know it’s going to be a hard one.That’s why hiring someone with a lot of experience in child custody and things is a good idea.

  8. I like that you mentioned that a qualified divorce lawyer needs experience and don’t just say they handle cases well because they need the money. My sister is looking for a divorce attorney and I am looking into it for her. I did not know that an attorney who has practiced for more years than another does not necessarily make him more qualified. I will take that into consideration as I look into divorce lawyers.

  9. My brother is filing for divorce soon, and she he needs to find a lawyer. He has a lot on his plate, so I thought I would try and help him find some tips to find a reliable lawyer. You mention that the laws regarding divorce change often, so it’s important to have an attorney with lots of experience. I’ll be sure to pass this along to my brother, I think that will really help him narrow down his search.

  10. I like that you mentioned that you want to find an attorney who deals with mainly divorce law. That way, you can be sure that the lawyer has expertise and experience that can help you win your case. My best friend is going through a divorce, and I am trying to find the right lawyer to help him keep custody. I will make sure we look for these qualities as we search for a lawyer.

  11. Thank you so much for the suggestion that you make sure your divorce attorney has experience with the area you need help in. My cousin is looking for a great child support lawyer to make sure her husband pays a good amount to her and her son. I’ll be sure to tell her to find a lawyer that has a lot of experience with child support specifically.

  12. Thanks for the great tips you have for hiring a divorce lawyer. I agree that looking at their training is a great idea. When I go through my divorce, I want someone who is willing and able to negotiate a good settlement, like you said.

  13. My mother is separated from my dad right now and has been inquiring about a divorce lawyer for some time now. I should tell her to listen to your advice and pick someone who has an optimal amount of experience. this makes sense since they will know how to better help her than someone who is new to the job. Thanks for the helpful post.

  14. Thanks for mentioning that aggressive attorneys might make a divorce longer if they cause more arguing and hearings. I’m thinking about asking my husband for a divorce, and I want to find a divorce lawyer that can make the process go as quickly as possible. If I end up with an attorney who’s too aggressive, that might draw out the process for longer than I’d like.

  15. My cousin recently came to the conclusion that he wants to find a divorce lawyer and get the paperwork to divorce his wife. You said that it is important to know that the attorney you hire is experience since divorce law changes frequently and is based on fairness. That is a great point to keep in mind since he does not want a messy divorce and an experienced lawyer can keep the whole thing clean.

  16. I agree that you should always interview a few attorneys before making your choice. I know that recently a friend of mine had a great experience with an attorney because they specialized in divorce and knew the ins and outs needed to protect her family. If I ever need an attorney, I am going to make sure to shop around before making a decision.

  17. Unfortunately, my best friend is going through a divorce and looking for an attorney. I will let her know to get the free informational guide when she goes to the consultation. This will be helpful to her.

  18. Thank you for your insight on hiring a divorce attorney. I especially appreciate your comments on hiring an attorney with a good personality. Up until this point I knew you would need an aggressive attorney, but I never thought about how I would have to handle their personality as well! I will keep all of this in mind as I search for a divorce attorney in my area.

  19. I’m glad that you talked about how you want to hire someone that has worked in specifically family law, for years. I have been going through a divorce and I want a lawyer to protect myself. I can see how it would be good to find someone that specializes in family law, so it’s more likely I get the custody agreement I want.

  20. I really appreciate what you said about choosing an experienced divorce lawyer because they might know how a commissioner or judge will rule if they’ve worked with them before. I’m thinking about asking my husband for a divorce, but I’m worried that things won’t work out in my favor. It might help me to get an experienced attorney who can help me get a favorable outcome.

  21. Thanks for your informative article. My family has been going through a lot of stress as my wife wanted to file for divorce and get full custody of our two kids. They are everything to me and would give everything to keep them of course. And with that long and stressful battle, I would like to know how I could get the best lawyer to achieve my goal; to keep my children.

  22. I like how you mentioned that divorce law changes frequently so it is important to hire a lawyer with specific experience. My brother-in-law recently went through a divorce and doesn’t know where to start or who would make a good lawyer. I’ll tell him to make sure his lawyer has experience in handling similar cases so his case can turn out for the best.

  23. I like how you say that you need to consider the personality of an attorney before you choose them. It would make sense to find someone who you get along with. My sister needs a divorce lawyer, so she’ll have to find someone who has a good personality.

  24. Thanks for the insight. I appreciate that you talk about the attorney personality because I definitely think that is important to make everything easier. I also think that we should pay attention to whether or not they are good at communicating so I would always understand the next step.

  25. I really like that you recommend considering the billing retainer as well as the hourly rate. It makes sense that it’s common practice for lawyers to bill in 6-minute increments to make it easier to calculate but considering the retainer could also be helpful. Thanks for the post; these things could be very helpful to remember for any sort of lawyer because knowing how much it’ll cost you to hire that specific person could be very helpful to know just you don’t have any surprises.

  26. Great tips! I’m going to split up with my husband, so I need a professional help in order to go through the divorce. I like especially the part about the experience of the lawyer because divorce law changes very often. So, now I know what to pay attention to choosing a good lawyer for me.

  27. I like how you say that you would want to find an attorney who you get along with. It would be good to find a divorce lawyer who is qualified as well. My brother is looking for a divorce attorney, so he’ll have to consider their personality before he chooses them.

  28. My sister is going through a divorce, and I think it’s best for her to hire a divorce lawyer. I agree that the experience of the attorney she’ll choose is essential. It will certainly help with the case. I’ll make sure to share this with her. Thanks for sharing!

  29. My brother is in the process of getting divorced with her wife who had an affair. I wanted to give him some pieces of advice of my own. I agree that it would be good to check a lawyer’s reputation and experience as those would be a good way to determine whether they would be someone you could trust to build the case. I’ll be sure to note all these tips and discuss it with my him. Thanks for these very comprehensive tips!

  30. My husband and I decided to call it quits and I’m not quite sure if I should hire a divorce lawyer to assist me. Thankfully, this article gives me a tip to hire an attorney who can negotiate a great settlement for me so that I can move on with my life. Thanks a lot!

  31. I agree that their experience as an attorney sets high standards and adds up to their reputation as an attorney. Years in service doesn’t really count versus the number of their experience. Thanks for this tip! I’m gonna share this with my friend who’s been looking for a divorce attorney. Thank you!

  32. I do agree, divorce can be very stressful due to a lot of legalities and the divorce itself. I’m glad you shared these great tips on how to choose an attorney that might be able to help. Knowing that they have a free informational guide would surely do great.

  33. Thanks for the tip to avoid a “Bull Dog” attorney when going through a divorce. I would imagine that communication would be key in this kind of situation, and it’s unfortunate that with an aggressive divorce attorney, it’s hard to get that communication. An attorney that can communicate clearly would be important to me if I were ever to be in a divorce.

  34. I like that you mention paying attention to the experience of a divorce lawyer before hiring. My brother is looking to get a divorce and needs a professional. I’ll be sure to talk to him about finding a lawyer who has a lot of experience.

  35. Thank you for relaying the importance of personality when it comes to a divorce lawyer! One of my close friends is unfortunately going through a divorce, and I’ve experienced his “Bull-dog” lawyer firsthand. I know he’s ready to move on with his life, but the proceedings are dragging on longer than he’d expected. If only he’d had more help choosing a lawyer beforehand!

  36. It’s interesting that you talked about choosing an attorney that really focuses their practice on divorce. I have been looking for someone to represent me when my wife and I get divorced. I can see how it would be nice to have someone really experienced, so I don’t have to worry about them making any mistakes with my case.

  37. I was not aware of the free informational guide until now. I appreciate that you insisted on getting their free informational guide for us to be able to review what we have discussed in the consultation or give us additional information about divorce. This is really helpful, and I’ll make sure to keep it in mind should I need it in the future.

  38. Thanks for the entertaining read about the things to know before hiring a defense attorney. I do agree that experience is extremely important in a divorce case. It is because divorce law changes frequently, and because it is based mostly on fairness, the only way to know how a certain commissioner or judge will rule in a given case is to have argued in front of those commissioners and judges in the past. That should help you over the case easier. I’d be sure to take note of these tips for the unforeseen instance that I may need it. Hopefully, I won’t.

  39. You are absolutely right about choosing an attorney that you can get along with as one of the factors one should consider when going through a divorce. My brother has gone through a similar thing where he hired an attorney who is not compatible with him, personality wise. The process went successfully, but he thought it would have been better if he didn’t have someone else breathing on his neck all the time. It would be hard enough to deal with your ex-spouse and your family, adding another person to this list would make it impossible for you to get through the ordeal in one piece.

  40. I can see why hiring a family lawyer is a good idea. It makes sense that you should check the attorney’s personality beforehand, though. Like you said, the “bulldog” type lawyers wouldn’t be fun to work with! I’ll tell my brother this, since he’s going through a divorce soon.

  41. I liked that you had mentioned that when it comes to looking for a divorce lawyer that it can be important to pay attention to their experience to find someone who has dealt with a similar situation. My sister in law is currently in the process of going through a divorce right now and it’s started to get ugly. We’re going to start helping her find a divorce attorney and we’ll be making sure they have a good amount of experience.

  42. It’s great to know what to look for in a divorce lawyer. I agree that finding someone with a ton of experience is important, especially when divorces can be so messy. My sister is thinking of getting one, so I’ll suggest she look for a great lawyer.

  43. Thank you for mentioning how you should take the time to look for a divorce attorney that has experience with what you need. It is important to understand that doing some research and reading online reviews can also help you find the best attorney for your needs. I can see how anyone looking into this would also want to take the time to consider your own needs carefully when looking for the type of divorce attorney that can work with the type of case you have.

  44. My wife and I haven’t been on good terms lately and are thinking about divorcing, but I’m not sure how to find a good lawyer if it comes to that. I like that you suggest finding a law firm that deals with family law specifically when interviewing attorneys. I want the expertise of professionals who are specialized in dealing with divorces so the process is much smoother, so I’ll be sure to look for this.

  45. Thanks for the great advice here on what you need to know when hiring a divorce lawyer to help you in court. As you explained, you need to understand where your attorney is coming from and really connect with their personality. My friend is going through a divorce and asked me to do some research for him on what qualities you should look for in a lawyer. I like that you talked about not hiring someone who is a “bulldog” but someone that you look forward to working with. Thanks again, and I will let him know as soon as I can.

  46. I hadn’t thought about reading the lawyer’s information guide, to see how knowledgeable they are. I have been looking for someone to represent my in an upcoming divorce. I can see how it would be good to read through their guide. That way I can tell if they have enough experience to take on my case.

  47. I do agree that stress can be quite overwhelming when it comes to divorce as you would need to in-depth knowledge of a number of laws, such as child support, physical custody, legal custody, retirement plans, real estate, finance, tax law, and child safety laws as you’ve stated. That is why I am sure to look for a reliable divorce firm for both my brother and his wife so that they can handle the divorce easier. Additionally, the divorce attorneys should also be able to give their kids their proper rights. Thanks for the in-depth guide on somethings to learn before hiring a divorce lawyer!

  48. Your point about asking for a free informational guide for insights. This will greatly help someone that doesn’t have a large familiarity with the process. I will be sure to let my good friend who has been looking for a divorce attorney.

  49. I like that you mention how attorneys are trained to negotiate and advocate and how family law allows for a lot of flexibility to settle your case, which could save you money. Since this is the case, finding the right divorce attorney would probably be important to ensure that they have the knowledge and skills to help you get the best outcome for your situation. When choosing a lawyer, you’d probably want to research different options and meet with them so that you can talk about your divorce and ask questions in order to make sure they’ll work with you.

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