Matrimonial law has many complex facets, and divorce is usually a difficult process under even the best of circumstances. You want an attorney who is experienced in handling divorce cases, and who has a problem solving approach as opposed to an adversarial one. If an attorney's orientation is to turn your divorce into a war, you will ultimately be paying the bill for all the battles. It complicates an already tough situation, can easily make legal costs spiral out of control, and prolongs resolution. That reduces your quality of life.
If your goal is to achieve a fair, lasting settlement as quickly as possible, pick an attorney you feel can accomplish this outcome for you. You also want to attain the result with a minimum of legal fees. If the lawyer is experienced in matrimonial law, is a good listener, and suggests negotiating in a reasonable, non-antagonistic way, these are good indications you've found the right representation.
Most importantly, don't try to be your own lawyer. If your spouse has hired a knowledgeable and seasoned legal professional to represent him or her, what reasonable chance of success can you expect as a non-attorney? More likely than not, you'll be decimated, and the consequences may affect you and your children for the rest of your lives. Borrow the money if you have to, but get adequate counsel.
A knowledgeable matrimonial practitioner can sometimes win major advantages solely with skillful handling of procedural issues. For example, McAdams Law represented a husband in a child support lawsuit that had already dragged on for seven years. He was arrested for being in arrears on child support payments. The firm proved he'd never received the Family Court papers, and thereby got the case dismissed and judgment voided. He was released from jail, and saved tens of thousands of dollars.
If you're anticipating divorce, set up a fund for living expenses and professional fees. You'll want to insure that you have money to live on and to pay costs until it's finalized. In the beginning stages, it can be unclear what your living arrangements will be, and what the total amount will be for legal and other professional fees. Your lawyer can assist you in making a good estimate.
Once your spouse knows you want a divorce and hires a lawyer, you may have limited or even no access to any joint funds for a while. Anticipate your financial needs for the worst-case scenario and set aside the money in an account only you have access to.
The most basic preliminary step in discussions with your attorney will be establishing what constitutes a good outcome for you. To do this, you'll need to create a written account of items to be negotiated between you and your spouse. Make three lists. The first category consists of things you absolutely need, and would be willing to fight for in Court if necessary. These are most important to you, and are required for your settlement agreement to be a workable deal long-term. The second list is of items you want, but could do without if you had to. Your third list includes things that can be viewed as extra perks or luxuries, and that you'd be willing to give to your spouse in negotiating for the things you really need.