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Divorce in Massachusetts: Selecting the right attorney

Going through a divorce is a difficult experience, but choosing the right legal representative may help people alleviate some of the stress.

Unfortunately, not all marriages in Massachusetts and elsewhere end in happily ever after. In fact, the divorce rate across the U.S. in 2014 was 3.2 per every 1,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After making the difficult decision to split, one of the most important steps that people take is choosing a lawyer to represent them. Not every attorney is the right fit for every person and family, which is why it is vital that those who are divorcing use care when choosing their legal representative.

Ask for recommendations

As they prepare to divorce, it is likely that people know others who have gone through a similar experience. Rather than just choosing a name off a list, it may be beneficial for divorcing spouses to ask their family members, friends or other acquaintances for suggestions. They may be able to recommend legal representatives who they found to be competent and qualified, as well as compassionate and supportive.

Interview potential lawyers

Before making a decision, even if it is based on a recommendation, people should meet with the legal representatives who they are considering. Some situations may call for cooperation and finesse, while others need more aggressive tactics. Meeting with potential lawyers allows people the opportunity to ensure their personalities and styles are compatible with those of their attorney.

Consider the costs

The costs of legal representation when going through the end of a marriage vary from one attorney to the next. Therefore, some lawyers' fees may be outside of some family's budgets. In order to ensure they choose a legal representative who they can afford, it is important for people to ask about the fees and billing structures before making their choice.

Be wary of bold promises

Sometimes, attorneys may make bold guarantees in an effort to win a client's business. However, those claims may not be realistic. For example, the court uses the equitable division standard to divide couples' marital assets and debts. A lawyer may assure a client that he or she can obtain particular assets or a larger share of the marital estate. However, the legal representative may not be able to deliver on these promises because the split must be determined to be fair by the court.

Seeking legal assistance

People in Massachusetts do not have to have legal representation in order to get divorced. Particularly when there are children or significant assets involved, however, it may benefit divorcing spouses to work with an attorney. A lawyer may help alleviate some of the stress that the end of a marriage can bring by negotiating on their behalf and ensuring their rights are upheld.

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Johnson, Sclafani & Moriarty, Attorneys at Law
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