How to Choose a Divorce Lawyer in New Jersey
You have made the decision to get a divorce. Among the most critical decisions you’ll make when you find yourself in such a situation is: Who will be your divorce attorney? To best answer that very large question, you should first consider several other very important questions as you are choosing a divorce lawyer in New Jersey:
- Is the Attorney a Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney?
- Will the Attorney You Meet at the Initial Consultation be the Attorney Who is Going to Handle Your Case?
- Does the Attorney Practice in the County Where You Reside?
- Does the Attorney Charge for the Initial Consultation?
- Does the Attorney Have a Policy Regarding Returning Phone Calls and Client Accessibility?
- Does the Attorney Consult with Financial Planners in Order to Ensure You will be Able to Financially Sustain Yourself After the Divorce?
- Do You Get Along with the Attorney on Both a Personal and Professional Level?
- Has the Attorney Made Guarantees to You with Respect to the Outcome of Your Divorce?
- How Many Years has the Attorney been Practicing?
- Is the Attorney “Mediation Friendly”?
- Vincent DeLuca, Esq. – NJ Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney
After you have asked all these questions, and received satisfactory answers, you will be in a much better position to choose an attorney to handle your divorce. There is no getting around the fact that a divorce is a traumatic event. Choosing the wrong attorney will make your divorce more traumatic than it needs to be. Choosing the right attorney means you will have a reliable, competent and empathetic partner to guide you through your divorce with the least amount of stress possible.
Is the Attorney a Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney?
By choosing an attorney certified as a Matrimonial Law Attorney in New Jersey, you can be sure you will be represented by an attorney who concentrates his or her practice in matrimonial law. However, there is more to the certification than that. The New Jersey Supreme Court, recognizing the importance of providing consumers of legal services with a reliable guide to help them find experienced and skilled attorneys, established the Board on Attorney Certification in 1980. The Supreme Court, through recommendation by the Board on Attorney Certification, certifies attorneys in Matrimonial Law. As stated on the Board’s website, an attorney must meet the following requirements to become certified as a Matrimonial Law Attorney:
- A member in good standing of the New Jersey Bar for at least five years;
- Taken a specific number of continuing legal education courses in the three years prior to filing an application;
- Demonstrating substantial involvement in preparation of litigated matters;
- Demonstrating an unblemished reputation by submitting a list of attorneys and judges who will attest to the applicant’s character and ability; and
- Passing a written examination covering various aspects of practice in matrimonial law
There can be no guarantee to the outcome of any legal dispute or proceeding, but by choosing a Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney to represent you in your divorce, you can at least be sure you will be represented by an attorney experienced and skilled in New Jersey matrimonial law. As of June 2012, there are approximately 1,600 attorneys with board certifications out of roughly 72,000 active lawyers throughout New Jersey. Only 158 (0.002%) of the state’s attorneys are Certified Matrimonial Attorneys.
Will the Attorney You Meet at the Initial Consultation be the Attorney Who is Going to Handle Your Case?
Imagine yourself in this situation: You choose a law firm to represent you in your New Jersey divorce. At your initial consultation, you meet with the very impressive head partner of the law firm. He or she may even be a Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney. Only after you engage the firm do you discover you cannot reach that partner either by phone or email. Only after you engage the firm do you discover your case has been assigned to an inexperienced associate attorney. To assure you never have this experience, be sure to ask the attorney you are meeting with at an initial consultation whether that attorney will be the attorney who actually handles your case before you sign any engagement agreement.
Does the Attorney Practice in the County Where You Reside?
Your divorce will be adjudicated in the New Jersey Superior Court of the county where you and your spouse reside. Choosing an attorney who practices in that county likely means your attorney will know the judge who will preside over your case, as well as your spouse’s attorney. Such familiarity often leads to a more efficient divorce process. Additionally, choosing an attorney whose practice is located in the county where your divorce will be adjudicated means you will save on fees that would likely be incurred if your attorney had to travel from out of the county to attend court-mandated proceedings in the county.
Does the Attorney Charge for the Initial Consultation?
The initial consultation with an attorney should not result in a bill for the prospective client. For the attorney/client relationship to work, both the attorney and client should want to work with each other, a circumstance that can be determined only after an initial consultation takes place. An attorney who charges for an initial consultation is likely not interested in assessing whether the potential for such a mutually agreeable relationship exists. Rather, the fact that the attorney charges for an initial consultation may signal that the attorney is more interested in collecting that fee than in helping you with your legal problem.
Does the Attorney Have a Policy Regarding Returning Phone Calls and Client Accessibility?
That is, does the attorney work at a firm that has a policy that commits the attorney to return client phone calls within a reasonable period of time and commits the attorney to make himself or herself available to the client to discuss all aspects of the client’s case? The attorney you choose should be available to discuss all aspects of your case and to respond to your inquiries within a reasonable amount of time (usually one business day).
Does the Attorney Consult with Financial Planners in Order to Ensure You will be Able to Financially Sustain Yourself After the Divorce?
Many attorneys are focused only on getting their clients through the divorce process, and don’t go the extra step of considering the impact of the terms of the divorce agreement on their clients post-divorce. Ask any attorney you interview whether he or she consults with financial planners and other financial professionals in order to assure their clients can financially sustain themselves post-divorce.
Do You Get Along with the Attorney on Both a Personal and Professional Level?
Has the Attorney Made Guarantees to You with Respect to the Outcome of Your Divorce?
The divorce process is inherently unpredictable. Each case is unique and eventual outcomes cannot be predicted. An attorney who makes such guarantees should raise a red flag in your mind. It is not suggested to engage such an attorney.
How Many Years has the Attorney been Practicing?
In the practice of law, as elsewhere, there really is no substitute for years of experience. Not every experienced attorney will be the right choice for you, but the odds are that the right attorney for you will have years of experience in New Jersey matrimonial law.
Is the Attorney “Mediation Friendly”?
Attorneys who are dismissive of the mediation process may run the risk of prolonging your divorce, making it more acrimonious than it otherwise has to be, and costing you more money in legal fees. Mediation is an important part of the divorce process. Be sure you choose an attorney who will give mediation every chance of success in your divorce.
Vincent DeLuca, Esq. – New Jersey Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney
Vincent C. DeLuca of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. is certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a Matrimonial Attorney. Mr. DeLuca is one of a limited number of attorneys to hold the prestigious certification in New Jersey. Mr. DeLuca, whose practice is devoted to family law in Ocean County and Monmouth County, is one of a limited number of Certified NJ Matrimonial Attorneys on the Roster of Mediators for Economic Aspects of Family Law in Ocean County, New Jersey. To schedule a free initial consultation with a Villani & DeLuca attorney about your divorce, call 732-965-3350 today.