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California: Five Traits to Consider in Hiring A Lawyer
(provided by Steven Carlson, The Custody Coach™)

The characteristics of a divorce lawyer are important to consider when seeking legal representation. Whether your divorce is highly contested or whether you are close to settling all or most of the major issues pertaining to your divorce such as child custody, visitation, division of property, and support, the following characteristics of a prospective divorce lawyer should be considered:

(1) Proactive nature
(2) Willingness to negotiate
(3) Assertiveness
(4) Approachability
(5) Problem-solving skills

Proactive nature

Proactive divorce lawyers often keep the opposing party on the defensive. Rather than reacting to opposing counsel's requests, a proactive attorney will have a strategy and often initiate action requiring the other party to respond or react. When done effectively, the opposing party may find themselves responding and reacting with little or no opportunity to go on the offensive.

Willingness to negotiate

Cases in which the parties are close to settling all or some of their divorce issues can benefit from divorce lawyers that are willing to help negotiate settlements out-of-court. Additionally, much time, money, and stress associated with contested divorce cases can be drastically reduced. However, in highly contested divorces, negotiating settlements may not be an option and a good trial lawyer may be more valuable.


An assertive divorce lawyer is typically confident, but not arrogant, and knows those situations where it is better to be assertive versus those situations calling for more deference. Additionally, such an attorney will often demonstrate confidence in the courtroom through his or her experience and may remain unemotional throughout your divorce proceedings. The attorney's communication with the opposing counsel will typically be amicable, but when under attack, he or she will not be afraid to assert the client's position.


Approachable attorneys are easy to talk to and easy to contact. They will make themselves available to speak with you and will return your call in a timely manner. However, an approachable attorney is not an attorney that will engage in meaningless conversations that have no relevance to your case. Typically, an approachable attorney will demonstrate good listening skills in a conversation, and to make the best use of time will politely inform you if you are getting off the subject.

Problem-solving skills

An attorney that demonstrates good problem-solving skills will have a strategy for your case. Such attorneys are often willing to negotiate settlements when it makes sense, but are fully prepared for trial if matters cannot be settled out-of-court.

If you plan to retain a lawyer to help you with your divorce, consider these traits before hiring your attorney; it might save you a surprising amount of time, money, and stress during your divorce proceedings.

Information provided by:
Steven Carlson, The Custody Coach™ located at

Recommended Resources:
California Divorce Source
California Divorce Laws
California Community Forum
California Divorce Resources

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