How To Find the Best Divorce Lawyer in Los Angeles
If you’re in Los Angeles and looking at divorce options, the first question that usually comes up is, “Who is the best divorce lawyer in Los Angeles?”
But looking for the best divorce attorney Los Angeles has to offer can be misleading. So instead, you should be asking a better, more targeted question:
Who is the RIGHT divorce attorney in Los Angeles for your case?
Finding this answer involves three steps:
- Examine the specific needs of your case.
- Determine if you’ll pursue litigation or mediation.
- Vet your LA divorce attorney for their personality, experience, and their inclination to try to resolve your case or look for ways to fight.
What do you need to know BEFORE getting a divorce?
Use this step-by-step guide to review custody & visitation, child support, spousal support, assets & debts.Get your free guide
The Difference Between the “Best Divorce Lawyer” and “Right Divorce Lawyer”
Changing your mindset from “best” to “right” shifts the conversation to match your specific needs. It helps you determine what type of divorce attorney is a right fit for YOUR unique situation.
Because needs and goals differ in every divorce process, it’s impossible to determine the best LA divorce attorney. Seeking the elusive “best divorce attorney” may end up costing you more time and money than necessary, especially if you retain one who’s not the right fit.
So how do you find the right Los Angeles divorce attorney? First, ask some fundamental questions to help you align your divorce goals with the style and strengths of a divorce attorney. Let’s go over exactly what you should look for.
Choosing Mediation vs. Litigation
There are two types of divorce attorneys: a litigation family law attorney and a mediation family law attorney.
On the one hand, a litigation lawyer spends time in court and trials to fight for your demands.
On the other hand, a mediation attorney wants to work collaboratively with the other side to try to come up with a settlement and avoid going to court as much as possible.
Find the best-suited divorce attorney by asking yourself a few targeted questions.
Divorce Litigation Questions (to Ask Yourself)
Before deciding on a Los Angeles litigation attorney or law firm, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you want/need to go to court?
- Do you want to get involved in a complex litigation divorce process?
- What is your budget for litigation? Are you prepared for the possibility of spending between $30K to $40K, if not more?
- How much time are you ready to spend on your trial? Are you willing to take an average of 15 months to complete your divorce?
- Are you prepared for the combative nature of litigation?
- Do you and your spouse disagree on major issues to the point that every discussion turns into a fight?
- Are you ready to allow lawyers and judges to determine your family’s future?
- Do you need someone to protect you, either financially or physically, from your spouse?
Divorce Mediation Questions (to Ask Yourself)
As a commonly better alternative to litigation, mediation comes with less friction and stress. Plus, it puts the divorce process control back into your and your partner’s hands (rather than the attorneys and judges).
Before choosing a Los Angeles divorce mediation attorney, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you willing to divorce without going to court?
- Are you ready to be honest and open about your feelings, actions, money, and assets?
- Do you think it’s necessary to make concessions on occasion?
- Have you talked about property division?
- Have you talked about spousal support?
- Have you discussed how to share parental responsibility for your children?
- Do you both want to keep communication open and active?
- Do you need help with parenting plans, child custody agreements, or support issues?
- Are your biggest concerns the cost of legal proceedings and trying to keep costs down?
Tip on Mediation
To better prepare you for mediation, you should attain a divorce consultant or consulting attorney to educate you on the law and advise you of your rights and obligations.
Questions to Ask Your Los Angeles Divorce Attorney
You’ll find the right LA divorce attorney by asking the following general questions about their practice and methodology:
- How long have you been practicing family law? What law school did you graduate from?
- Do you specialize in family law, or do you handle other areas of law as well?
- Are you passionate about practicing law?
- Are you primarily a litigation or mediation attorney? Please explain your preference.
- Do you have experience as a divorce consultant?
- Will you work collaboratively with my spouse’s attorney?
- What are your rates? How do you bill?
- What is expected of me as a client?
- Will you be my attorney, or will it be an associate?
- Do you have experience in handling divorce cases in California?
- Do you have experience in handling divorce cases that involve spousal support?
- Do you have experience handling divorce cases involving child custody and visitation (i.e., child support)?
- How often do we communicate, and what methods of communication will we use?
Once you tell the attorney what you’re looking to achieve, ask them if they think you’re being reasonable.
You’ll want an LA divorce attorney that is telling you the truth. They might even tell you something you may not want to hear rather than egging you on to get more money.
What Personality Traits Are You Looking for in Your Divorce Attorney?
Finding the right Los Angeles divorce attorney also means you mesh well with them.
Remember, your attorney is someone you’re bringing into your life who you’ll interact with for potential years to come. Plus, their work will significantly impact the success and well-being of you, your partner, your family, and your children.
You’ll want an attorney that reflects your personal ethics and values, as they will be an extension of you during one of the most trying times of your life.
Here are a few questions to keep top of mind when vetting the personality traits of your potential divorce attorney:
- Do they want you to be hands-off or heavily involved?
- Will they fight fire with fire? (i.e., Do they play dirty when the other lawyer plays dirty?)
- Do you look forward to meeting and working with them, or do you feel nervous or anxious when doing so?
- Do they give you hope, faith, and guidance, or are they annoyed when you ask questions instead?
- Is the attorney a good listener?
- Are they able to break things down into easy-to-understand language for you?
- Are they doing a cost/benefit analysis of the possible strategies involving your case?
- Are they patient in explaining the divorce process in California to you?
- Do they take an aggressive, bull-dog attorney approach, or are they more willing to see both sides and help you and your spouse move forward?
- Is their first suggestion to run to Court for you to get orders?
How Much Experience Should Los Angeles Divorce Lawyers Have?
An experienced attorney should ideally have 5-7 years of practice specializing in family law cases.
Is it Better to Get a Local Divorce Lawyer?
A divorce attorney based in Los Angeles can provide personalized guidance, offer insight into local laws, identify resources in the community, and work with you one-on-one.
In addition, a local divorce lawyer is familiar with how judges in your area typically handle cases like yours and will be better able to advocate on your behalf in court.
And, of course, a local’s law office is also more accessible than out-of-town lawyers who may not always be available for appointments or consultations.
How Much Does a Divorce Lawyer in Los Angeles Cost?
A California divorce attorney’s hourly rate typically starts at $300 per hour. In Los Angeles, it can start at $450 per hour.
Complex cases in affluent areas like Santa Monica and Beverly Hills can cost between $30,000 and $40,000, if not more.
Making the Right Decision for Your Divorce Case
As you can see, you’ll need to think through vital questions of divorce attorneys before finding the right one for your divorce case.
In Los Angeles, divorces can be more expensive than in other cities, so taking the time to uncover your needs and vet your attorney is crucial to your long-term success.
I’m a family law attorney who’s helped people achieve successful divorces for over a decade in Los Angeles. Reach out to me for your legal support needs — I’d be happy to help answer any questions on a consultation call.