learning how to hire a divorce lawyer

How to Hire A Divorce Lawyer (The Right One for You)

Whether you’re contemplating getting a divorce or ready to act, your first step is NOT to make any immediate decisions but to get educated on what the divorce process looks like and how to hire a divorce lawyer.

You have choices, and you need to understand what they are. Divorce laws can change quite a bit once you cross state lines, so the best place to start your research is a search engine like Google. Type in keywords like “divorce laws in [your state]” to learn how getting a divorce will affect your life. Spend time learning about different divorce models. Decide whether you’ll work with a mediator or an attorney, for instance. Ask yourself which model is right for you, your spouse, and your circumstances.

After you’ve done a little fieldwork, it’s time to meet with the experts.

Divorce isn’t as simple as understanding your rights. Divorce is a line drawn in the sand, and once you pass it, many aspects of your life that go beyond your marriage will change. So yes, learn all about your rights. Find out what you are entitled to. But then drill down further.

Let’s face it—when it comes to divorce, especially when children are involved, many women are most concerned about two things: money and custody. What custody decisions will I have to make? How will I support myself? How will I pay the bills, put food on the table, and be a good mom all at the same time? All on my own, no less? That’s where a financial advisor comes in. Or even better, a certified divorce financial analyst who will explain exactly what will happen to your money, assets, and—you guessed it—debt.

Again, divorce is not simply a legal or financial issue but a life-changing event that throws even your sense of identity off balance. It’s crucial to seek guidance from someone who can break everything down for you without losing focus of the big picture. Someone who will listen when you tell them where you want to be, and then point you in the right direction. But who do you turn to for this kind of guidance? Who is going to give you vetted and appropriate referrals based on your actual situation?

Hiring a divorce coach

Of course, we believe the best professional suited for this role is a divorce coach because they can teach you about divorce (like how to hire a divorce lawyer) but above all, how to get through divorce the healthiest way. A divorce coach can help you overcome the emotional challenges as well as the practical ones, and by doing so, they help you save money and time. Mistakes happen, but with a divorce coach, the chance of those mistakes occurring is significantly reduced.

Divorce coach or not, it is critical to have a guide—someone who knows there is an end in sight because they’ve been in your shoes. They’ve experienced the self-doubt and second-guessing, the isolation and fear. It’s even more critical this person understand the journey of a woman, as they’ll be the one who helps you navigate and set yourself up for your best life.

If reaching out to a divorce coach is a step you’re not quite ready for, reading these articles about contemplating divorce may help you answer the questions you have and learn what else you should consider before you even start figuring out how to hire a divorce lawyer.

Shopping around for a divorce lawyer

Now if you’re still with me, then you might be ready to take the leap. You may even be shopping around for an attorney (as you well should). But what should you be looking for? What questions should you ask? Below are a few tips.

  • Get vetted referrals and consider them carefully
  • Find out if the lawyer specializes in family law
  • Find out if they are a skilled negotiator
  • Ask if they know the other lawyer(s) involved and how established the relationship is (this will help with negotiations)
  • Ask yourself if there’s chemistry between you and any potential hire (this means understanding your issues and values—making sure you feel heard
  • Ensure your lawyer can explain your “best and worst case scenarios”
  • Find out if they settle often
  • Ensure you understand all costs (the retainer, hourly rate, and payment structure)
  • Consider asking a friend or family member along to take notes and give you feedback after any meetings

Hiring the right divorce attorney or mediator is no easy task. But remember: you owe it to yourself to find the right representation. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions—just make sure they’re the right ones. And interview more than one professional (remember, it’s your right to shop around).

Be sure to read our article on what questions to ask a divorce attorney for more on how to hire a divorce lawyer, how to prepare for that meeting and how to pay your divorce..

And, of course, once you have hired a lawyer make sure you don’t make the mistake so many do of “misusing” her.

What else MUST you know about how to hire a divorce lawyer?

  • No one is ever really happy with her divorce lawyer because both parties always have to compromise
  • Try to settle out of court by putting your emotions aside and asking yourself if what’s upsetting you will still be important in ten years?
  • A good settlement is one in which neither client walks away entirely happy. Begin the process of managing your expectations, realizing what’s truly nonnegotiable, and understanding what all these decisions mean for setting up your next, better chapter of your life.

Whether you’re navigating the experience and aftermath of divorce, or recreating the life you want, one thing that makes a big difference for women is choosing not to do it alone. Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to help them through this emotional and often times complicated experience. Learn how we can help you in a free, confidential consultation.

Share these insights


  1. Cheryl Mallis on February 24, 2018 at 22:52

    Informative article filled with good suggestions.

    • SAS for Women on March 3, 2018 at 11:01

      Hi Mark, thanks for writing and for the links to your articles. I don’t think it’s a question of “either or”, 0 or 180 mph, or being a doormat or “lawyering up”. There is a world of nuance re the model you choose to use for your divorce, and the type of lawyer you hire. At some point, all people, men or women, would benefit from speaking with a divorce attorney to learn their individual rights so they can understand more about what they are entitled to and what their choices are. We are certainly not “going to court” advocates, and to suggest that hiring a lawyer and “lawyering up” sends you absolutely in that direction is capitalizing on the emotional fears people have.

  2. Phoenix divorce attorney on March 3, 2018 at 04:36

    When it comes to hiring a lawyer, trust is an essential part of the relationship that you have to build. You will want a lawyer that you can feel comfortable with and who seems very capable of handling your case. This may take some time to find, so look carefully!

  3. Deb Pearl on March 20, 2018 at 10:40

    Thank you for all the tips on how to find a good divorce attorney. My friend is going through a divorce, and she really wants help to get through this. I think it would be a good idea to find out if the lawyer she wants specializes in family law. I think it would be good for her to have a lawyer who knows exactly what they are doing and has more experience with those kinds of cases.

  4. Fred Gibbons on June 24, 2020 at 15:29

    It’s interesting that you point out that hiring a lawyer is a great way to help make sure your rights are respected when you get divorced. I just found out that my wife wants to file for divorce, so I’m thinking about hiring an attorney to represent me. I’m going to look for a reputable local divorce attorney to hire.

  5. Adam Golightly on July 14, 2020 at 18:45

    My aunt has been thinking about getting a divorce from her husband because he never pays any attention to her and she feels really neglected. She would really like to get some help from a professional so that she can have the best outcome possible. I liked what you said about how they should try and have better negotiations and they should specialize in family law and making sure that they can identify best and worse outcomes.

  6. Joseph Martial on September 9, 2020 at 21:39

    Choosing the right lawyer for the job is one of the most crucial parts of the whole experience. It can help you or break you. This article definitely provides good guidelines for finding the right one!

  7. Todd Stauffer on November 25, 2020 at 12:21

    I like how you said that you should find out how often a family lawyer can settle a case. This seems like a really great thing to investigate because it would let you know how successful the lawyer is and how high your chances are for a favorable settlement.

  8. Bob Newton on December 7, 2020 at 13:58

    It’s great that you elaborate on how hiring an attorney can help you reach a better outcome in a divorce. My wife told me recently that she wants a divorce, so I’m thinking about hiring a lawyer to help me. I’m going to search for a reputable attorney in my area that handles divorce cases.

  9. Rebecca Gardner on December 9, 2020 at 13:31

    It’s good to know that we should research divorce laws in our area since they change depending on our state. I think it’d be best to find a lawyer to help with my divorce from my husband of five years since we have two sons and need to sort out the custody arrangements for them. Thanks for teaching me how to start the process to keep from getting overwhelmed during this hard time.

  10. Alec Burns on January 14, 2021 at 11:53

    It’s great that you point out that an attorney can help guide you through the legal process of getting divorced. My wife and I decided to separate recently, so I’m thinking about hiring a divorce lawyer to help me. I’m going to look for a good divorce lawyer in my area that I can use.

  11. Shaylee Packer on January 18, 2021 at 09:16

    It was mentioned that it is a good idea to hire a lawyer who specializes in family law if you are looking for divorce assistance. My neighbor was telling me the other day that unfortunately, her marriage is coming to an end. I will have to let her know that it is important for her to do her research before she hires anyone to help.

  12. Jonathan Hansen on January 20, 2021 at 15:12

    It’s great that you mention that an attorney can help make sure that your rights are respected when you are going through a divorce. My wife and I want to get divorced as soon as possible, so I’m considering hiring a lawyer to represent me. I’m going to search for a reputable divorce attorney in the area that I can use.

  13. Conrad O'Connor on January 20, 2021 at 15:25

    It’s interesting that you mention that a lawyer can help guide you through the legal complexities of getting divorced. My wife and I decided to separate recently, so I’m considering hiring a divorce attorney. I’m going to search for a good divorce attorney in the area that I can hire.

  14. Eli Richardson on February 4, 2021 at 16:58

    It’s great that you talked about the importance of choosing an experienced lawyer for your divorce case. My childhood friend is getting a divorce, and my wife and I are worried about his situation since he found his wife cheating on him with their neighbor. Their case got messy, and they’re not on good terms. That’s why we think he needs to get a lawyer to help him out, and I think your article will help him find one. I’m grateful for your tips about what to look for in a good divorce lawyer.

  15. Darpan Jain on February 16, 2021 at 09:44

    Absolutely important points for searching and choosing a good lawyer!

  16. Tex Hooper on February 18, 2021 at 18:33

    I like what you said about explaining best and worst-case scenarios.

  17. Charlotte Fleet on March 11, 2021 at 16:39

    My cousin is getting divorced and she needs to hire a reliable divorce lawyer. I appreciate you mentioning the importance of making sure they specialize in family law before you hire them. I will make sure that my cousin finds a reputable lawyer that has experience in cases very similar to hers.

  18. Nelson Fogerty on April 1, 2021 at 11:07

    Thank you for pointing out that a lawyer can help you get custody of your children in a divorce. I want to make sure that I’ll still be able to see my son after I get divorced, so I’m considering hiring an attorney to help me.

  19. Larry Weaver on April 15, 2021 at 16:55

    Thanks for the tip to find a divorce lawyer that can inform you of the best and worst-case scenarios. My sister just caught her husband having an affair, and she wants to get a divorce before the end of the year. I’ll share these details with her as she looks for a divorce lawyer.

  20. Taylor Anderson on April 15, 2021 at 16:59

    I like how you said to get vetted referrals and go over each one carefully. Another great tip I’ve heard is to get free consultations with different lawyers before choosing one. Thanks for the great tips for choosing a divorce lawyer.

  21. Chris Pederson on May 5, 2021 at 19:41

    It’s good to know that I should be shopping around for a lawyer at this point. No one has really guided me through the process as well as you have. Thank you for making it clear what I need to do and that I am doing the right thing.

  22. Ardalan & Associates, PLC on May 10, 2021 at 06:49

    I wish to show thanks to you just for bailing me out of this particular trouble. As a result of checking through the net and meeting techniques that were not productive, I thought my life was done.

  23. Max Jones on May 20, 2021 at 11:19

    This was an informative article about finding a good divorce lawyer. My parents are thinking about getting a divorce. I’ll share this article with my dad as he looks for a divorce lawyer to hire.

  24. Hailey Miller on May 20, 2021 at 20:54

    It really helped when you said that many women are focused on custody when it comes to divorce. My brother is planning to fight for his two son’s custody because his wife is moving to California. I will meet with him later and urge him to look for a reputable child custody attorney who can help him get primary custody.

  25. Mia Evans on June 22, 2021 at 19:43

    Thanks for pointing out that divorce laws can be different in various states. With that in mind, it is best to have a lawyer to help me out to file for a divorce the correct way. I just want to be free from my husband who has been abusing me emotionally for three years.

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