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You and Your Lawyer - Finding Mr. and Ms. Right

When you interview divorce lawyers, you should look for certain qualities. First of all, you need someone who is intelligent. You will be able to judge ""smarts" by the manner in which an attorney questions you about your husband's job or business, the children, your home, the mortgage, and your economic situation.

Second, you don't want an "arm waiver" or a "shouter"; life isn't T.V. You want someone who is calm, cool, confident, convincing and articulate.

Although many divorce cases are settled and thus do not get to Court assume yours will not be settled. You want a trial lawyer who specializes in divorce. When interviewing a lawyer you want to determine whether the attorney is good at his or her job and also whether he/she has a personality and outlook that is compatible with yours.

Here are some questions you should ask during the initial interview:

  • Ask which attorney will be handling your case. The lawyer who you are speaking with at the initial interview may not be the attorney who will appear with you in Court. Be sure to meet the Senior Lawyer, the Junior Lawyer and any Paralegals who will be handling your case.
  • How long will the process take?
  • What are my rights and my obligations in the attorney client relationship?
  • Are you willing to go to Court and fight for me if this case cannot be settled any other way?
  • Do you know my husband/wife's attorney?
  • Have you worked with him/her before?
  • What should I know about him/her?
  • Can you estimate how much my divorce will cost? Is this case a simple or a complex one?
  • What do you think the outcome will be? What is the best outcome I can expect? What is the worst outcome I can expect?
  • After I retain you, what is the next thing that I need to do?
  • Will I receive copies of every document which comes into your office and every document which leaves your office?
  • Do you practice family law exclusively? If not, what percentage of your practice is family law?

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New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the division of property in a divorce is to be done fairly, not necessarily equally. The court can take into consideration any factor it deems relevant when dividing property, but it must consider certain factors, such as how long the couple was married and the age and health of both spouses, the income or property brought to the marriage by each spouse, the standard of living that was achieved during the marriage, and the extent to which one spouse may have deferred career goals, among others.
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