When and How To Seek Out A Divorce Lawyer

Although a very personal journey, divorce is not something to go through alone. It is crucial to have an experienced and trusted divorce attorney by your side to help you understand your rights and guide you through the legal process.

When To Seek The Help Of A Divorce Lawyer

When To Consult A Divorce AttorneyYou might be wondering when is the right time to consult a divorce lawyer. Here are a few situations in which you should contact a divorce attorney:

  • You have been served with divorce papers. Under New York law, if you’ve been served with divorce papers you only have 20 days to respond or a divorce may be granted to your spouse by default. Find a matrimonial or divorce lawyer immediately to review the papers and guide you through the next steps.
  • Your spouse has retained a divorce lawyer. If your spouse is moving forward with a divorce or separation you need to retain a lawyer to represent you and protect your rights and interests. This is true even if you don’t want the divorce. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable and sacrifice your legal rights by refusing to accept the fact that your spouse is intent upon dissolving the marriage.
  • You are contemplating a divorce. You don’t need to know with 100% certainty that you’re going to file for divorce to contact a qualified matrimonial lawyer. If you’re thinking about divorce, it’s a good idea to sit down with an attorney and review your situation. Ask the attorney to talk you through the process and explain how the proceedings will work to get a better idea of what you’ll face if you do choose to file for divorce.

Choosing A Divorce Attorney

Choosing a divorce attorney doesn’t have to be a difficult process. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right attorney.

  • Conduct an internet search. The internet makes it easier than ever to do some quick research on attorneys who specialize in divorce, matrimonial law or custody. Start with your local or state bar association. Most bar associations have online tools to help you find a lawyer by specialty. You should be able to learn plenty of basic information to get you started, such as their location and areas of expertise.
  • Look for experience and expertise. How many years has the attorney been practicing? Does he or she concentrate in the area you need? You want to hire an attorney who can help you get through a divorce. That means you want someone who specializes in matrimonial law (not tax law, for example) to assist you with your divorce.
  • Set up interviews. Once you’ve identified a few attorneys that seem to fit your needs, set up times to interview them. While meeting with prospective attorneys, gauge your feelings and reactions related to the attorneys. Are you being spoken to in words and terms you understand? Do you find them to be trustworthy? Remember, you’ll be dealing with some incredibly personal information; you want to work with someone you trust and respect, and who respects you. Your attorney needs to be someone you feel comfortable talking to and who communicates with you in a way you understand.

Why A Matrimonial Attorney Is Best Suited To Handle Divorce Cases

There are numerous benefits to having a matrimonial lawyer handle your divorce case. These attorneys have spent years learning the nuances not only of matrimonial law, but also know the judges in your locality and other local attorneys. All of these facets come in to play during cases and can have an impact on how your case is handled.

Matrimonial lawyers are members of the local and state bar associations and their committees that deal with matrimonial law issues. This means they’ll be current on the latest cases and rulings related to the field. Matrimonial attorneys are required to participate in continuing education courses related to matrimonial law. They will know what materials are needed to move the case through the system, and will have access to all the research, statutes and case law they need to handle your case. In contrast, a lawyer who does not focus on matrimonial law won’t have access to this research or body of knowledge and will not have in-depth knowledge of these laws, which can prove critical to developing your case.

Matrimonial attorneys will know the judges who handle divorce cases and will know their fellow divorce lawyers. Just like attorneys, judges specialize in certain areas of law. Knowing the judges and the other lawyers with whom your attorney will be working in your case can make the process smoother since your lawyer will be familiar with how the other players handle cases.

For additional information about matrimonial lawyers and the divorce process contact Westchester Matrimonial today.

About The Author


Jessica H. Ressler has been practicing exclusively matrimonial and family law for the past ten years in New York. She is a member of the panel for attorneys for children in Westchester and Putnam Counties. She appears regularly in the New York Family and Supreme Courts representing both adults and children.