1. Read up more on divorce proceedings in Singapore
As in any legal matters and with the availability of information easily accessible to the public, it is best to find out more about divorce and its process in Singapore, before you reach out for a lawyer. It would help you to evaluate the capability of the lawyer. Granted, you don’t need to know about each and every legal procedure or the types of forms you need to file. A basic guidline of the process of divorce in court would suffice. You can easily search for answers to questions like difference between contested and uncontested divorce, legal reasons that can get your divorce, child custody considerations, division of matrimonial property etc. from internet resources such as local forums. Due to the high emotional and legal cost when divorce is involved, it is very important to have a better understanding of property and child custody in case of a mutual agreement on divorce, and to maintain a clear mind when making decisions.
Be sure to keep notes of the key points so that you will get an overview of the process and system. In-depth details such as the duration of the divorce process itself or what complications can happen during the case etc, can be sorted out when you actually find a suitable lawyer. This research step, when properly done, can really help you find a suitable divorce lawyer. The knowledge gained will be helpful to you in understanding whether your lawyer understands your requirements and provide the necessary strategies to help your case.
2. Prepare a list of divorce lawyers
We have mentioned earlier that, with hundreds of firms available in Singapore providing divorce services, it’s no surprise that you can be easily overwhelmed by the information out there. It’d be best to prepare a list of potential lawyers and filter out the unsuitable ones. But how can you do it quick? Below are some best practices:
In this digital age, you can easily search for lawyers by looking at online advertisements or local directories that feature online profiles of lawyers . You can filter out by means of experience, cost, and convenience. It is better to have a lawyer who can empathise with you. If the lawyer is cheap, it may be possible that he may not give justice to your case. You can also visit the Legal Services Regulatory Authority of Singapore website here for an extensive list of practicing lawyers.
Another method preferred by many is to simply ask family and close friends if they have any contacts for; or have engaged any reputable local divorce lawyers practicing in Singapore. This is mostly used by people because they will have some level of assurance and confidence about the reputation of the lawyer, which makes it the most preferred way of searching for a lawyer. Having said so, you should still try searching via the online search described above so as to ensure that you have explored your options thoroughly. We are certain that your family and friends would not recommend someone they have had a bad experience with but we do not rule out the possibility that the recommendation might not work out as well as it did with your network. Legal services are dynamic, which means they highly depend on the user’s experience and that differs between clients. First impression matters as well, so use that as a gauge to see if you can work long with the endorsed lawyer. Just be cautious on the pricing though. Since you were referred, the lawyer might not quote the same price as your family member or friend because he or she already knows that you have a good opinion of them.
3. Choosing your divorce lawyer
Once you have shortlisted the lawyers, you need to contact them either via email, phone or contact forms on their websites. Most lawyers do not charge for the initial consultation so you can meet them face to face to explain your case and lay down your requirements. You need to ask what kind of legal services that you may need in your divorce case. How can the lawyer do the best job? Whether there has to be a litigation? Whether he will negotiate on your behalf? etc. A good divorce lawyer will explain the entire stage of the divorce process. He is responsible for handling all the paperwork related to the divorce and preferably with a vast experience in family law. He would also be able to give you useful information from his past experience regarding when to file for a divorce case, what negotiation you can do from your spouse, how to handle the entire divorce proceedings etc.
A good lawyer would make an effort to understand your case fully so that he can path the way for you and guide you throughout the divorce proceedings. You should also check the rates the lawyer will be charging for his services. Divorces are costly and it is better to budget between $1500-$2500 SGD as a safe option. Try to check whether other value-added services outside the basic work will be included or will be additional costs. Sometimes the paperwork needs to be done multiple times and this might result in extra costs as well. It is better to have a lawyer who has transparent billing process so that you don’t get a surprise in the end. In the case of a contentious divorce, it may not be possible to calculate accurate costs but you can discuss about maximum fee cap in that case. As long as he gives you some kind of assurance (penned down in black and white, of course), you should have a peace of mind that the cost will not exceed the budget.
4. Appointment with the selected firm
The final step is to schedule an appointment with the respective firms. Most law firms have an appointment booking link. Otherwise, you can also submit your information via their contact forms or request a callback at a convenient time. During the initial consultation, you should ask which lawyer will be attending your case. What you want to avoid is a situation where they delegate your case to a junior associate who has little experience. At all times, ensure that you have a comfortable rapport with the lawyer. Since law is a personal service, the lawyer should be able to understand your situation properly and should represent your interest.