The Dos and Don’ts When Choosing a Divorce Lawyer

When you are looking for a divorce lawyer, it is important not to choose the first lawyer that crosses your path. Instead, it is better – and in your best interest – to hire somebody who specialises in this type of law. Divorce is a complicated, expensive, and sometimes a messy process. As such, you do not want to waste your time and money or risk losing more than you bargained for in the divorce. 

We’ve put together the dos and don'ts of choosing an experienced divorce lawyer to help you choose the best representative for you:

Do Get a Lawyer Who Specialises in Divorce

divorceYou are already losing a lot when you are getting separated from somebody you thought you would be with forever and, therefore, you do not want to lose even more time, money, and even assets because you hired a representative who has not specialised in this type of law. 

Just like you would rather go to a doctor who specialises in orthopaedic surgery than a general surgeon when you need to get a tricky elbow or knee operation, so too you will need a lawyer specialising in divorce instead of someone who specialises in other legal fields like property, labour or criminal law.

Have you ever heard of the 10 000-hour rule by Malcolm Gladwell? It states that in order to become really good at something, it takes about 10 000 hours of deliberate practice. Using this idea, if you want to work with the best that you can get, then choosing a specialised divorce lawyer with a good track record will be in your best interest. 

Do Hire Someone Who Has Worked with Many Different Clients 

Each separation is unique, there is no doubt about it. You have your own unique circumstances that led to the separation, not to mention the fact that each person handles stressful situations differently. That is why getting someone experienced who has worked with a lot of different cases and personalities is a good idea. They will be able to draw from their experience and will know how to handle each situation and discussion point. They will also be able to set realistic expectations based on similar cases they have worked on. 

Do Get a Lawyer with Years of Experience

While those who are just getting started in their careers do need time to gain experience and cannot do so without getting clients, you cannot ignore the fact that it does take time to become really good at what you do and that getting a divorce lawyer with a lot of experience is a good idea if you want the divorce to result in the best outcomes for you. 

Do Get a Lawyer with a Thick Skin

You can trust that an experienced professional has had their fair share of facing difficulties and learning from their mistakes. If you hire somebody with years of experience, you can trust that they have already learnt a lot of lessons and have developed more confidence and a thicker skin. You need a thick skin if you are going to be a divorce lawyer who has chosen to fight for your clients when the situation calls for it. A separation can, sometimes, get very ugly, very quickly, and someone who is just getting started might still struggle in the beginning to hold their own in the courtroom. 

Do Get a Lawyer Who is Connected 

They say that it is all about who you know. When you are separating, there are a few professionals you may need to consult, such as therapists, financial advisors, accountants, mediators, movers, real estate agents, etc. 

If you are not sure who to go to, your lawyer will be able to refer you to the best people. 

Don’t Hire Someone Who Acts Emotionally 

Divorce is an emotional process and if your lawyer gets emotional on top of everything else, the outcome might not be favourable. An experienced divorce lawyer is more likely to be able to stay objective and not get emotionally involved, while someone who is just starting might have a difficult time if they are very empathetic. 

You want a lawyer who will be able to treat you and your former partner with respect, not someone who will resent the other party and treat them poorly and with disrespect. 

Don’t Hire Someone Who Charges Too Much

You want a lawyer who cares about you and not just about adding zeros to their bank account and using your money to upgrade their guesthouse or to buy a beach house. 

Someone who overcharges sends a signal that they will not put your needs first. Of course, they need to charge enough to feed their families and stay in business, but there is a fine line between charging what is appropriate and taking advantage of people who are already going through a difficult time. 

Don’t Hire Someone Who is Willing to Break the Law and Fight Dirty

A divorce lawyer who is willing to bend the rules and break the law to win should not be trusted. You want to work with somebody trustworthy. A “winning at all costs” mentality can cost you a lot in the end. 

Things can also turn badly very quickly when the person who represents you:

  • fight a lot in court;
  • talk badly about colleagues;
  • discuss other clients;
  • make a lot of promises they cannot keep;
  • encourage you to exaggerate; and
  • say untrue things just to win. 

These are just a few guidelines to help you choose the best lawyer to help you through these tough times. Taking all this into consideration, one of the most important things is that you want to work with someone who makes you feel as comfortable and as secure as possible. 

If you are looking for experienced divorce lawyers in Pretoria who will have your best interests at heart, contact us at Riëtte Oosthuizen Attorneys on our contact form, email us at, or phone 012 460 6359.