Getting or considering a divorce? This is a major life event that should not be taken lightly. Choose a lawyer who will best serve your interests, no matter your situation. Here are five qualities to look for in a divorce attorney to ensure you work with someone you can trust.

1. CompetenceAn attorney has to be able to do the job you engage them to do. There is no substitute for experience. However, just because an attorney is experienced doesn’t mean they are competent. And just because an attorney is inexperienced doesn’t mean they are not competent. Ask someone you trust; a word of mouth recommendation is sometimes the best.

2. Professionalism. Attorneys “advocate” for a living. Many clients think they want the most aggressive attorney they can find. But an assertive, knowledgeable and professional attorney is almost always a better choice. Civility is lacking in the legal community, and civility and professionalism are key ingredients to promoting resolution, rather than a trial, of your legal issue—an avenue which is almost always more satisfying, longer lasting and less expensive than a contested trial.

3. High ethical standards. The success of the legal system is dependent upon the adherence by attorneys of the highest ethical standards. Attorneys are officers of the Court, and reputation matters. Make sure you engage an attorney who maintains his or her ethical standards and is trustworthy. Your rights could be adversely affected by an unethical attorney, or one who is known to push those boundaries, as you may be painted with the same brush.

4. Pragmatic/reasonable. In almost all cases, you will want to choose an attorney who has the ability to successfully litigate a case, but also an attorney who will settle or plea bargain when it is appropriate to do so. It is never a good idea to engage an attorney who will never settle a case, or an attorney who is afraid to try a case. An attorney who will spend $10 of your money to argue over a $5 issue is not serving you well.

5. User friendly. You need an attorney who is responsive and able to communicate effectively with you. Trust your instincts. The most qualified attorney in the world is of no assistance to you if he or she is not user friendly. Whether you are engaging an attorney for a divorce, a criminal case or a real estate purchase, look for an attorney who has the ability to listen, and to understand, your legal matter, and guide you through the often complex legal system.

Divorce can be complex, challenging, emotionally draining and scary. If you’re considering or moving forward with a divorce, contact RFC Law Offices to get started on the right foot.