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Five Tips to Find a Great Divorce Attorney in Las Vegas
There are many divorce attorneys in Las Vegas and it can get confusing when it’s time to choose one. If you are like most people, a divorce is something you don’t go through every year, and for many people it’s a once in a lifetime event, one that occurs while you are your most vulnerable. This translates to having very little experience with divorce and with retaining a divorce attorney.
I aim to give you good general advice on retaining a divorce attorney in Las Vegas. Though I do hope you see the value in retaining my firm to help, this advice will serve you well in your search. You should speak to a few firms before you make your decisions. Not all lawyers are a good match for you, just like not all clients are a good match for me. The one thing you want to avoid is hiring an attorney that is not a good fit for you, and then find yourself having to switch mid-divorce: this is always a costly move.
First thing to do is determine what type of divorce you need to file. Yes, there are different ways to approach it.
Do you know if your spouse agrees to a divorce? Are you able to talk about it? Will your spouse agree to sign the divorce papers? Knowing this from the beginning is important because it greatly affects what type of attorney you should look for to represent you.
If you already know that your spouse will sign the divorce documents, you’ll need one kind of divorce lawyer, and if your spouse won’t sign and you already know that he or she just wants to go to court, you’ll need another.
Did you know? Just like ice cream divorce attorneys come in different flavors.
It goes without saying that whether your spouse signs or not, you need a divorce attorney. 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 sign? Will your spouse not sign, but also will not likely contest it? Or, are you certain that she or he will contest?
If you agree on all the terms, you’ll be able to file a joint petition divorce. Simply bring all your terms to your attorney to be added to the divorce documents.
Have you been married for many years? Do you own property together, have children under the age of 18 together? Do one, or both, of you have a pension coming? In this case, even if you think you agree on all the terms, it would be best to go through a mediation process. Divorce mediation (also known as collaborative divorce) will make you feel more confident that you are making the right decision on all counts, such as property division, child custody and support, possible alimony, and on any other issue related to your divorce. Divorce mediators help ensure that both parties are treated fairly based on a set of guidelines.
If your spouse refuses to listen to reason, and he or she refuses to sign, and is intent on fighting everything to the end, your unfortunate best option is to find a divorce attorney who specializes in litigation. This will cost you a lot of money, so you want to be sure that it’s your last-ditch effort. It is best for you to do all you can to try and persuade your spouse to agree to mediation before you make this move. The irony is that once a divorce has been filed and the other party served, and has responded by filing an Answer and CounterClaim, the very first thing Family Court does is to set a mandatory case management conference which is essentially a divorce mediation. So whether your spouse wants to or not, he or she will end up in mediation.
The bottom line here is that before you decide on a divorce attorney in Las Vegas be sure that he or she is open to mediation rather than immediately planning on going to court, as too many attorneys tend to do.
If you truly don’t know whether your spouse will cooperate, or contest, or not, and you have no way of finding out, choose an attorney who is a qualified mediator, but who is also ready to go to court as a last resort.
If you decide to go through mediation and your spouse agrees to do so, find an attorney who makes mediation a regular part of his or her practice, or find a certified and licensed non-attorney divorce mediator.
Look into at least three attorneys
Here’s a good strategy for you to follow:
Ask for referrals from already-divorced friends and acquaintances. Which attorney did they use? What did they like, or not like, about him or her? Remember that an attorney who might have been a good choice for your friend Sally might not be a good choice for you, depending on the type of divorce she filed and the one you need to file.
Look at online reviews
Keep looking until you find three attorneys you think might be a good match for you.
Call each attorney’s office.
You are likely to be able to find a divorce attorney in Las Vegas who will give you an initial consultation at no cost. Oftentimes, for uncontested matters, you’ll be speaking with a case intake paralegal, and if it seems your case will be contested right from the get-go, you’ll speak to the attorney directly.
For simpler and uncontested divorces, you are looking more for information on procedure and cost rather than legal advice. If so, you can simply get your information over the phone (if you are comfortable with that) rather than having to drive to the attorneys’ offices.
Sure you spouse will contest? If so, take the time to go meet with each prospective attorney in person. You’ll want to not only get information and legal advice, you’ll want to see how each divorce attorney looks and check out their demeanor. This person might end up standing up for you in divorce court—be sure that your attorney reflects you properly.
As a divorce attorney, I prefer to meet my prospects for contested matters in person: I want to feel things out and make sure I’m a good match for them, as well as them being a good match for me. In essence, when you retain a lawyer for a contested divorce, you are entering a business relationship of sorts with him or her. I want to know if you’ll be a good business partner for me, and you should want to know if I’ll be a good business partner for you.
Here is a list of questions to ask your prospective attorney:
Decide on an attorney.
After you have conducted all three interviews, retain the divorce attorney you feel most reflects your wishes and with whom you feel most comfortable.
Also, be sure that your best choice is a highly-experienced divorce attorney in Las Vegas, that he or she is a local divorce attorney, not one who might have just moved to Las Vegas from another part of the state. You want your lawyer to be familiar with local judges and court procedures.
Does this lawyer look at divorce in the same way you do? If you strongly favor coming to an agreement with your soon-to-be-ex spouse rather than fighting in court, choose an attorney who also feels strongly about mediation, rather than one who looks forward to divorce trials.
Now, if you are the one who intends to go to court and have no intention of compromising on anything, first think it over. Is that really your best move? If you really feel that it is, 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, no matter the type of divorce.
By following these guidelines, I think you should find yourself with a divorce attorney who cares as much as you do about the outcome of your divorce.
Nevada is a community property state, which means that unless the spouses agree to divide the marital property differently, the court will split it 50/50 between them.
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