5 tips for choosing the right Illinois divorce attorney

When choosing a divorce lawyer, spouses should consider referrals and take time to weigh each representative’s costs, experience and personal compatibility.

Each year, thousands of couples in Libertyville navigate the complex and emotionally demanding process of divorce. In 2011, the last year for which Illinois Department of Public Health data is available, over 4,100 couples in Lake County ended their marriages. Statewide, more than 70,000 divorces took place during the same year.

For many people who are currently preparing for a divorce in Illinois, the assistance of a family law attorney is essential. However, spouses who don't choose a lawyer carefully may be at risk for unnecessary financial losses, unfavorable settlements or other unwanted outcomes. Fortunately, spouses can typically improve their likelihood of finding an effective representative by taking the following steps.

1. Research thoroughly

When searching for an attorney, spouses should closely evaluate each prospective representative's background and expertise in family law. Spouses should look for attorneys who focus primarily on this niche, according to More magazine, and they should learn how long each attorney has practiced family law. Spouses should also consider an attorney's experience and record of success in handling specific aspects of a divorce, such as alimony or marital property division.

2. Consider cost

Spouses should also keep projected costs in mind when choosing a divorce lawyer. More magazine notes that spouses need to calculate in advance what they can afford to spend during the divorce. When determining this amount, spouses may need to consider what kind of representation their former partner has obtained. Spouses should consider hiring an attorney whose experience and track record are on par with that of the other spouse's representative, if doing so is financially feasible.

3. Assess compatibility

CNBC recommends that divorcing spouses also evaluate whether each prospective attorney offers a good personal fit. It's essential that spouses feel confortable working closely with an attorney and sharing emotional, financial and otherwise sensitive information. Spouses should take time to evaluate whether an attorney's temperament and approach are a suitable match for a spouse's own personality and goals.

The same source notes that it's not uncommon for divorcing spouses to work with an attorney's partners, associates or other personnel during various stages of the divorce process. Therefore, spouses should additionally weigh whether they would be comfortable collaborating with a given attorney's staff.

4. Utilize personal referrals

When selecting an attorney, many spouses turn to sources such as local bar associations and other legal professionals for referrals. However, in addition to using these sources, spouses should seek out referrals from friends or family members, according to CNBC. These individuals can provide greater insights into an attorney's approach and likelihood of meeting a spouse's needs. For example, a personal referral may assure a parent that an attorney can help craft child custody and visitation arrangements or advocate effectively for the parent in court.

5. Meet multiple professionals

Finally, spouses should consult with multiple attorneys before making any final decisions. This can improve the likelihood that a spouse will find a representative who offers a strong fit. As CNBC points out, this can also enable a spouse to discern whether an attorney's projections, approach and fees are fairly reasonable.

Taking time to identify the ideal attorney can be a time-consuming and challenging process. However, spouses should keep sight of the benefits that come with finding the right representative. Besides easing the divorce process and protecting a spouse's rights, an attorney may be able to improve the likelihood of a spouse receiving a reasonable settlement and transitioning more effectively to life after the divorce.