Everyone knows that divorce is extremely stressful, even in the most amicable of circumstances. In fact, the landmark study by Holmes and Rahe in 1967, which resulted in the now famous original list of 43 life-events called the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS), lists divorce as the number two most stressful life event after death of a spouse, and marital separation as number three; the top five are listed below:

Life-Event …. Stress Rating
1. Death of spouse …. 100
2. Divorce …. 73
3. Marital separation …. 65
4. Jail term …. 63
5. Death of close family member …. 63

Perhaps this is a bit misleading, in that not getting a divorce when spouses no longer belong together can, over the long haul, be cumulatively more stressful: that is, the divorce itself is stressful for a short time (the divorce proceeding itself and a period of adjustment afterwards), but not getting that divorce when you believe you should can stretch that stress over years or even decades.

So, you’ve decided that divorce is right for your situation. The next step is the most important: choosing a drivorce lawyer to represent you. What do you look for in a divorce attorney? The answers (or qualifications) are many and varied, but here are a few key items to bear in mind.

You need to locate an attorney who is experienced in Family Law, with significant trial experience. You want a lawyer who can speak with you in plain English, not mumbo-jumbo legalese. And you want an attorney you feel comfortable with and can trust, since you will be revealing very personal and private information about yourself, your marriage, your family and your life.

Point-by-Point: Questions to Ask about a Prospective Lawyer:

  • Does he or she make you feel comfortable?
  • Does he or she have extensive courtroom experience in Family Law?
  • Is the lawyer a specialist or a generalist?
  • Is there a potential conflict of interest because this lawyer has worked with both you and your spouse in the past (even on apparently unrelated matters)?
  • Has he or she discussed confidentiality with you?
  • Does he or she talk about other clients in front of you?

These are a few basic considerations to bear in mind.