A divorce brings tough times for both partners. You go through extreme emotional stress as to try to legally break away from the marriage and at the same time ensure that despite the breakup you are secure financially for the future. To ensure you get what you want, the role of a good divorce lawyer is of supreme importance.
Whether you chose to contest or you want to part ways by mutual consent taking the advice of a good divorce lawyer is always pertinent.
Once you have decided to get a divorce, the next step is to find a good divorce lawyer. Now this may prove to be a big challenge, as finding a good divorce lawyer in India may seem like a daunting task. What do you want your divorce lawyer to be like? You want to find an honest divorce lawyer, who would give you the time and attention to understand your issues.
Women often want a divorce lawyer who would help them get the best alimony settlement. Mostly both men and women who are opting for a divorce want a lawyer who wouldn’t get into a long-drawn battle, would want to give them quick relief and fleecing their clients would be the last thing on their mind.
Lawyer Siddhartha Mishra says, “A good divorce lawyer will be intelligent and mature and sensitive to the issues of both the parties. He or she needs to have a certain level of sincerity to understand what the clients are going through and at the same time show them the realistic picture.”
But did you know, if you don’t find the right lawyer, you could possibly lose a lot of money and time and complicate the process further? Even if both partners decide to settle their divorce issues, including child custody and division of assets, it is a good idea to consult a good divorce lawyer.
The ideal way out of this tricky situation is to find the right divorce attorney in India, right in the beginning. So now you must be wondering what things you need to keep in mind for hiring a divorce lawyer.
You might not be in a financial condition to hire an expensive lawyer, in fact pay the lawyer’s fees at all. In that case you can opt for a pro bono lawyer who will render their services free of cost but that does not mean they would do any lesser job. Let’s scrutinise the procedure point by point.
How To Prepare For Your Divorce Case
When choosing a lawyer, first understand the basics. Undergoing a divorce is your own decision and a lawyer will just support you in this process. If you think he or she will take a lead in dissolving the marriage, then you are wrong. A lawyer will just support your decisions with their able acumen and practical legal wisdom.
Before hiring any lawyer, first analyse the situation in hand, including the severity of the differences in marriage. A lawyer or even the courts would tell you to opt for marriage counselling and see if your differences can be resolved.
People often end up wanting a divorce in a fit of rage or over trivial issues like snoring or wife’s inability to cook well. In that case marital counselling helps. A good lawyer will ask you to opt for counselling first and not file for a divorce immediately.
To prepare for a divorce the first thing you should get ready is a divorce checklist. You will be clear in your head then why you want a divorce and what steps you need to take to prepare for it.
In India you need to live separately for a minimum of 6 months. In that phase of separation you should try to reconciliate your differences by counselling. If that does not happen then you can file for a divorce.
Did you try to reconcile your differences with your partner?
Research about your case online, including the divorce laws under which the relevant legal ‘Marriage Acts’, like Hindu Marriage Act 1955, Special Marriage Act 1954, Muslim Personal Law in India come.
Related Reading: How to file for a divorce in India?
Points To Consider When Choosing A Lawyer For A Divorce Case
There are plenty of factors to consider when choosing a lawyer. Sometimes all a couple needs is someone who will guide and support them through the process. Since you have already prepared for your case, ‘your clear expectations from the case’ may make things easy while choosing the right lawyer.
What do you want your divorce lawyer to be like? If you simply want steadfast dissolution without contesting any case, then a lawyer who can facilitate mediation and arbitration is the best resource.
However, if both the partners are not able to reach a mutual consensus on the divorce, then contesting the case is the only solution left.
Issues like division of property, alimony or child custody may require you to choose someone who is really good with complicated financial matters.
Prior research, analysis and contemplation of divorce may help you present your case to the lawyer with much clarity and smartness.
1. Search in the right places
Start with referrals from family, friends, and colleagues. This will be a good way to generate a list of potential attorneys. Do your research, and find someone you can both trust and afford. You may even ‘Google’ your way while searching for the right lawyer in your area and check their online reviews or ratings.
Nowadays, some mobile applications (Divorcekart) are also trying to clear the haze around divorces in India with a list of divorce attorneys in your area. Once you have your list of potential divorce lawyers, start with the interviews.
2. Know what questions to ask when choosing a divorce lawyer
A proper perspective of your case gives you much clarity while approaching the lawyers in your vicinity. In your head, you know your expectations from the divorce and need expert legal support in the form of your divorce attorney.
So, choosing a divorce lawyer is a very important decision. That is why you need to know the right questions to ask. You can ask about experience, including actual trial experience. The below-mentioned questions can also help you understand the lawyer’s expertise:
- How many years have you been working as a divorce attorney?
- What is your success rate, that is, track record in handling divorces?
- How many cases have you contested/mediated/arbitrated till date?
- As an attorney, how many years of actual trial experience do you have contesting cases in the courtroom?
- Do you have a team who is into bulk paperwork? Or you will be handling the bulk paperwork alone?
- How fast can you resolve the case? How will you handle the situation, if there are any unwanted complications from the other side?
3. Look for attentiveness
If you have a chance to meet your lawyer in person, before you hire him/her, look for signs that may seem like possible red flags.
Note whether they are dismissive of other divorce lawyers, divulge confidential information about other clients, or are easily distracted. If they reflect negative influences in the beginning, then avoid hiring them.
A good divorce lawyer will answer all your queries patiently, will not want to hurry you through the session and with their kind of experience would be able to point out the loopholes in your case where things could get stuck if you are planning to contest.
This means they have given your case immediate attention. They would also be able to point out all the pros and cons of the case in the first meeting only, and guide you in the right direction.
4. Check out the fees of the lawyer
Did you know? Divorce cases in India can linger on for years and years. The stretched out procedures may put a dent in your pocket in terms of divorce lawyer’s fees.
So before hiring a lawyer, find out more about his/her initial consultation and recurrent fees. Don’t miss out on seeking information about the additional paperwork. This is the best divorce advice we can give to women. Because it’s the woman who are often taken for a ride.
Usually, the more experienced attorneys have fat pay cheques. So, before hiring a divorce lawyer, determine the ‘fee’ structure for a seamless divorce procedure.
Also if you can find out from someone if they have used their services before and if the divorce lawyer throws in surprise expenses. You need to take that into account too.
5. Dynamically adapts according to divorce case requirements
When you are hiring a divorce lawyer, you need to look for someone who is professional and doesn’t try to be your therapist or counsellor to rack up your bill.
Based on the above-mentioned questions, you can select a lawyer who is pragmatic and adaptable according to the needs of the case.
There might be unwanted situations, in the case of a contested divorce. Therefore, while selecting the best lawyer in your area, you must be able to ‘trust him/her’ completely.
6. Don’t hire a lawyer who is acting too pricey
Select a lawyer who is conveniently accessible and is a great listener. Don’t just hire a lawyer who has the impressive success record, but has very less time to listen to you.
Such lawyers might delegate the case to juniors of their firm. As a result, you may complain that he/she is not giving your case enough attention.
Many people who have made a name initially interact in the first two sessions but then are never available because they are too big, so too busy and you are left to deal with the juniors. Avoid that.
7. Be transparent with the divorce lawyer
Don’t hide anything from your lawyer. Be open about the problems you had in the marriage, including verbal, emotional or physical abuse. Your lawyer has to be honest with you too telling you frankly where you stand in the case and not showing you false hope.
This clarity will help you and your lawyer present the nitty-gritty of the contested case in the court strategically. It may also strengthen your divorce case against your husband/wife.
It is very important to be honest with your lawyer with every single detail. Your lawyer also has to make you comfortable (say you are a lady talking about your sexual abuse to a male lawyer) and assure you highest level of confidentiality.
Related reading: When can I remarry after divorce in India?
8. Be comfortable in discussing your case
A divorce lawyer is not your friend, but you must be at ease with him/her while discussing the intricate details of your personal life. Empathetic lawyers who are great listeners can understand the problems you are going through and can support you with their practical legal advice.
But if you feel that the lawyer is too professional and rough in conduct and you are not comfortable in their company, then don’t go with them. This may make you feel hesitant all the time, and your case may suffer badly.
It’s very important to have a comfort level with your lawyer. In fact, a good divorce lawyer will go out of the way to ensure that.
Do I need a divorce lawyer if we agree on everything? A family court will help you get your divorce through mutual settlement in that case and you might not need a lawyer. But running everything through a good divorce lawyer is a good idea because then you won’t have to face any legal hassles in the future because they would straighten it out then and there.
A good divorce lawyer layers out a seamless divorce procedure for the couples. But the decision to select the best lawyer solely lies with you.
Our Bonobology relationship experts feel that divorces can be tough on any individual, and a wrong lawyer could mess up the entire divorce proceedings.
Ideally, you should follow your intuition and the above-mentioned steps for smooth divorce proceedings ahead. If you have any doubts, you can connect with our relationship experts for personalised guidance on divorce laws in India.