by Attorney Daniel Martin

So, are you ready to move forward with a divorce but not sure what to do next? Feel like you should get an attorney, but don’t know how? You’re not alone; divorce can be a confusing and complicated process. These are the things you should know to help you find a good attorney.

What first?

As always, it depends on your situation. Although many divorces are similar, every situation is unique. The surest way to put your best foot forward is to seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney. And if you don’t know of any, don’t worry. Check with family and friends, church members, and others in your community to see if they have a referral. Your local bar association will also be able to assist you by providing a list of attorneys nearby.

What next?

Part of the process of finding an attorney is understanding that not every attorney will be a good fit for your case. If your case is especially complex or contentious, finding an attorney who’s a good fit is even more important. Don’t be afraid to consult with a few attorneys before choosing one; each will likely have a different idea of how to approach and handle your case, and you can choose the one that seems most suitable. Also, many attorneys offer free consultations, which can help ease the financial burden during this part of the process.

Pick and Choose What Matters Most

After you’ve retained an attorney, you’ll have to decide which aspects of your case are most important to you. You should think carefully about your wishes for financial separation from your spouse and how you would like to handle custody of your children. Make sure your attorney knows which things you are willing to negotiate on and which you are not (things like family heirlooms and visitation time).

The Emotional Side

Many people are unprepared for the emotional burden a divorce can cause. Divorce is often a traumatic event and needs to be treated as such before the stress starts to take a toll on your health and wellbeing. Your attorney can provide resources to guide you through this difficult process. Try to remember that divorce should never be about revenge or ‘getting even.’ Instead, think of it as an opportunity to heal and move forward in your life.

Get Ready to Protect Yourself

Even if you’ve not been the victim of an abusive relationship, there are certain precautions you should take as you prepare for divorce. For example, before seeking the advice of an attorney you may wish to gain access to financial records and bank statements. In an abusive situation, an attorney can draft an Emergency Protective Order to protect you as soon as proceedings start; you can also always seek help at the Family Law Facilitator’s office at each San Diego courthouse. You might choose to take note of passwords to important accounts and devices.

And remember, keep talk of your divorce from reaching social media. These posts can be used against you in court later. The last thing to know is that you’re not alone, and your legal team is there for you every step of the way.