How to choose a divorce attorney in Las Vegas
I understand your dilemma. There are ton of divorce attorneys in Las Vegas; which one should you choose? Most people only go through a divorce but once or twice in their lives, and have little experience when it comes to dealing with it.
The one thing you want to avoid is hiring the wrong attorney and have to switch as this increases the overall cost of your divorce.
I aim to give you good general advice and not just get you to choose me as your divorce attorney. These are guidelines you can follow with any attorney you consider retaining for your divorce.
- First know what kind of divorce you are getting into.
Does your spouse agree to a divorce? Does he or she agree to sign the divorce documents? The answer to this question is important and it will affect what type of attorney you should look for to represent you in your divorce.
If you already know that your spouse agrees to sign the divorce papers, you’ll need one kind of divorce attorney, and if your spouse refuses to be reasonable and plans to fight you every step of the way, you’ll need another.
- What kind of divorce attorney do you need?
Of course, you need a divorce attorney whether your spouse signs or not, but they come in different flavors too. To determine which type of lawyer is best for you, you need to first know the answer to the question posed above; will your spouse contest the divorce or not?
If your spouse is reasonable and you both agree on all the terms of a divorce on your own, you can file a joint petition divorce. You can bring all your terms to your attorney and he or she will include them in the divorce pleadings.
That said, if you have been married for a number of years and own property together, have children together, and pensions are involved, and even if you think you agree on all the terms, it would be a good idea to go through mediation just to be sure that you are treated fairly. There are guidelines a divorce mediator can follow to ensure that you are both getting what is fair for your particular situation, finances, and length of marriage.
If your spouse won’t sign the documents, and will contest the divorce once filed, you’ll need a much more aggressive attorney than if your spouse agrees to terms you set together or through divorce mediation.
If your spouse is intent on fighting everything to the end, your best option is to find a divorce attorney who specializes in litigation.
Before you retain a divorce attorney in Las Vegas, be sure that he or she is open to alternatives, to mediation, rather than choosing a divorce lawyer whose typical strategy is divorce court before he or she has even “felt out” the other side.
Whether children and finances are involved or not, it’s always best to try mediation first before you enter litigation, either through an attorney who offers collaborative divorce as a part of his or her divorce practice, or through a certified and licensed non-attorney divorce mediator.
- Find at least three attorneys
This would be a good strategy to follow:
- Ask for referrals from friends and acquaintances who got divorced before you
- Read online reviews
- Keep looking until you find three attorneys you think you will like
- Interview the three attorneys.
Many divorce attorneys in Las Vegas will give an initial consultation at no cost for divorces that are bound to be contested. I do.
If your case is very simple and uncontested, you can simply talk to the attorney or his staff on the phone. In such a case, you just need information on divorce procedure rather than legal advice.
If your case is to be contested, it’s probably best to meet all three potential attorneys in person. You want to see for yourself how these divorce attorneys look and what demeanor they have. This person might end up representing you in divorce court. You want to be sure that he or she is a proper reflection of you.
Ask the following questions:
- What is your experience with (contested or uncontested) divorce?
- Do you specialize in any particular type of divorce (litigated, collaborative, uncontested)?
- Do you favor collaborative divorces over litigation whenever possible?
- Do you offer flat fees for uncontested divorce matters?
- What is your fee if my divorce becomes contested? Typically, a divorce attorney in Las Vegas charges an hourly fee. Usually, a retainer fee is paid and the hourly fee is charged against it. The attorney is bound to deposit any retainer into a trust account and will then take portions of the retainer out as they are earned.
- How long have you been practicing divorce law in Las Vegas?
- How often go you go to family court here?
- How familiar are you with the judges currently sitting on the bench?
- Make your choice.
After interviewing all the lawyers, retain the divorce attorney with whom you feel most comfortable.
Be sure that he or she is a highly experienced divorce attorney in Las Vegas. In other words, he or she is a local attorney, not a lawyer who, say, just moved to Las Vegas from Reno.
Be sure that he or she regards divorce in the same way you do. For instance, if you favor a joint petition divorce, meaning you want to come to an agreement on all the terms of the divorce and you want both you and your spouse to sign the divorce papers before filing, choose an attorney who will do his or her best to promote mediation if you hit a road block, rather than immediately pushing for court.
Of course, if your intent is to go to court to fight for everything you want and you have no intention to compromise, then choose a strong litigator with a good track record for winning tough divorces.
Be sure you know all the fees you will be charged up front and what it could cost down the road.
If you follow this guidance, you should end up with a professional and highly experienced divorce attorney in Las Vegas, one who cares as much as you do about the outcome of your divorce.