Decide what kind of Dallas divorce process you want to use. Do you know what you and your spouse own and owe or trust that your spouse knows and will truthfully share this information with you? Do you have children that you want to continue to have a good relationship with their other parent, as well as with you? Do you value your privacy? Do you want to be in control of how and when things happen in your divorce? If you answered these questions with a “yes,” you probably want a Collaborative Law divorce. If you answered these questions with a “no,” you probably want a litigated divorce. Once you know what kind of divorce process you want, you know whether you are looking for a litigator to pursue your case or a Collaborative lawyer to help you settle your case. If you are unsure, you want to hire a lawyer in a firm that excels at both Collaborative Law and litigation.
If you have a large estate or a complicated estate, you want to ensure that your divorce lawyer is board-certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. It is difficult to even qualify to sit for this exam. Only approximately 30% of the attorneys who qualify and sit for the exam pass it.
You want a Texas divorce lawyer that has a good reputation for knowing the law and for being knowledgeable in their practice. There is a service called Martindale Hubbell that will do this part for you. You can search for any Texas divorce lawyer’s name at www.martindale.com and see that lawyer’s rating. It is scary for lawyers to submit for this rating, as it is done by their peers and judges before whom they have appeared. The rating is two-fold. You want a lawyer that is peer-review rated A/V. The “A” means peers have rated this lawyer as having an excellent knowledge of the law. The “V” means peers have rated this lawyer as having very high ethics. There are also other rating systems that you might check. Thomson Reuters publishes their findings from the peer reviews of lawyers in Texas Super Lawyers. They state that these are the approximate top ten percent of lawyers in the state based on peer review. They also have several “top” lists, like “Top 100 Lawyers in Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex” and “Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas” that you can also find on the website at www.superlawyers.com/texas. Two other places you might want to check are Best Lawyers in America at www.bestlawyers.com/texas and the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers at www.aaml.org. Very few lawyers are listed in each and every one of these places. The ones who are have secured a reputation of the best of the best by their peers. They are going to charge accordingly. If you have a small estate, you might want to hire an objectively qualified (and more expensive) attorney and request that most of the work be done by a younger (and less expensive) associate attorney who will work under them, but you will have access to the more expensive lawyer on an “as needed” basis.
Make appointments with the Texas divorce lawyers who have made your list after doing the steps above. See how you feel with them. Do you feel understood and safe? Ideally, you should hire someone that makes you feel safer. You are going to be sharing lots of your life details with them. You are going to be seeing them when you’re not at your best. You are going to be listening to them. Your chemistry with this person matters.
Don’t be penny-wise and dollar foolish. Don’t hire someone because they gave you a free consultation or a free pen or free anything else.
Don’t hire someone because your friend liked him or her. It’s a great idea to interview with someone your friend liked, but don’t hire them, unless you like them, too.