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How to find a divorce lawyer in China

If you've decided to hire a divorce lawyer in China, you need to think of this process as a marathon, not a sprint. Do not settle on the first attorney you call and do not assume that a higher billing rate means a better lawyer. Take your time if you can. Ask friends and family if they know any good divorce lawyers. If they've gone through a divorce, get the names of lawyers they believe did a good job. Don't be surprised if they give you the name of their spouse's lawyer. If you have a friend who's a lawyer, ask your friend who he would hire for a China divorce lawyer, and why.


Ask other professionals who work with families. Do you know any therapists or social workers? Anyone who works at the courthouse? Check with your local bar association. It often has a lawyer referral service. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't be intimidated or feel pressured. Don't make the mistake of confusing competence with experience.

Try not to pick an attorney out of the Yellow Pages unless there is no other alternative. If you have to use this method, be sure you interview the attorney and find out about her background. Look in the Yellow Pages under “Attorneys — Divorce and Family” or under “Lawyers.” Check the listings for the lawyers who limit their practice to family and matrimonial or divorce law.

Family Law Practitioners Differ
Within the practice of family law, lawyers differ in their methods and beliefs. They have a variety of personalities, both in and out of the courtroom. They will use their expertise to tell you how they think the law applies to your case and how they will use the law to try the case or to settle it. If you talk to five different family law practitioners, you could get five slightly different responses as to how they will handle your case. Finding a China divorce lawyer is like buying a new pair of shoes. You have to try them on to see which one fits best.

What You Want Steers Your Choice
What do you want your lawyer to do for you? What are your objectives? The answers to these questions will have an important effect on whom you select to represent you. For example, suppose you and your spouse get along reasonably well. You've been married more than ten years and have two children. You own a house, two cars, retirement assets, and a time-share. You need a divorce attorney because you need to protect your children and your property, but you're confident you can work out a settlement. You don't want to fight with your spouse; you just don't want to be married any longer. You want an attorney who is willing to negotiate, consider alternative dispute techniques, and most importantly, respect your desire to engage in a civil and amicable divorce process.

Maybe you're pretty emotionally charged. You surprised your spouse in bed with someone else, and now you want to tell the judge and anyone else who will listen how you've been done wrong. You want the toughest, meanest divorce litigator in your community. The first lawyer you talk to says judges aren't that interested in hearing your sob story. You ignore that lawyer's advice and continue looking until you find a divorce lawyer who agrees to your wishes. You've now selected a lawyer using your emotions instead of your intelligence. This choice will not only cost you a lot of money but will create hostility with your spouse that may take years to overcome and cause your children endless heartache as they watch the two of you battle it out every time you see each other.

Like Your Lawyer
You want to choose a lawyer you can trust, someone who's smart. You want someone who really listens to you and is honest about what will happen. You want someone who answers your calls, keeps you informed, and is on your side. You don't want someone who is going to run up your bill by allowing you to chat about things that are not important to your legal case.

You'll probably end up spending a fair amount of time with this person, so listen to your gut as well as your brain. It's extremely important that you trust your lawyer and feel comfortable asking questions. You're under no obligation to hire a lawyer just because you met with him. If you're intimidated or uncomfortable with him, look for someone else. You'll have to ask your lawyer a lot of questions and work closely with him during the divorce. Make sure you're compatible. Also remember that every contact with your lawyer is billed to you. In order to reduce the cost of your consultation or divorce, focus on your legal issues, not on making polite conversation.

Any father who is involved in any aspect of family law finds the experience emotionally and often financially draining. And it is precisely because of the high emotional costs and the financial risks that fathers need good legal representation. But how does a dad find a good divorce lawyer, one who will be sure and represent the father's interests and protect his rights? And how does a father select the best of all the alternatives and find a lawyer with whom he can communicate effectively and work through all the complexities of these delicate situations?

Make A List of What You Want
The most important first step for a dad seeking a good divorce lawyer is to determine what it is you want the attorney to do for you. It is often easy to think that the attorney will simply "handle your case" without knowing what you expect. In order to develop a good relationship with your lawyer, you need to be clear yourself about what you want out of the relationship. The following questions are ones you should consider before embarking on your search:
1.Do you want your lawyer to pretty much run the case and consult you occasionally, or do you want more involvement?
2.Are you more concerned about protecting your financial interests or about maintaining a relationship with your children?
3.Are you willing to explore alternative dispute resolution options such as mediation or arbitration rather than going to court?
4.Are you considering joint custody?
5.Is your impending divorce friendly, or will it likely be a major battle dealing with your spouse?
6.Is there a likelihood you will remain in the geographic area where your family is or might you (or them) be moving away after the divorce?
7.Is the cost of your attorney a major issue or a minor one?
One of the toughest challenges is narrowing the field of potential attorneys to a number from which you can select. There are often many, many attorneys vying for your business, and it can be hard to sort through the options. Here are a number of suggestions to consider:

1. Consider a Lawyer Referral Service. Attorneys who practice law in each state belong to a state Bar Association chapter, which is a subsidiary of the Chinese Bar Association (not a group of tavern owners, but the professional association for attorneys). Each state bar has a lawyer referral service. You can visit the Law Society website for links to the state bar lawyer referral service. The service will ask you several questions about the type of attorney and their specialization, and will then give you a list of potential attorneys for your case. They will even set up an initial consultation with you, and usually offer a voucher for a free 30 minute first meeting. The service is free, and is one of the best ways to narrow your search.

2. Using the Internet. If you are more interested in a web-based search, take a look at one of the many lawyer search services. Some of the more popular include, and Most are sorted by specialty and by locale. Legalmatch is a little unique in that you post the specifics of your case, and member attorneys post their offers for you to consider. It is a worthwhile tool.

3. Research advertisements. The Yellow Pages is a tried and true method for finding an attorney, but you have a lot of ads to sort through. With recent changes in the ABA standards for legal advertising, you can find more information than ever in an attorney's advertisements. So whether in the Yellow Pages, in the newspaper or from other sources, consider using these ads to narrow your search for a qualified attorney.

4. Friends and Family. Oftentimes, the best approach is to ask around among your friends and family members for referrals. Someone else's good experience is usually a dependable reference. One of your contacts may know about a good family law attorney second hand, but at least it is some information. You can work your network to hear the good, the bad and the ugly about various lawyers.

5. Work Resources. You can also ask colleagues at work about their experiences. Some employers also offer a prepaid legal program, so if that is one of your employee benefits, consider using that as a referral source. Often your employer's in house or contract attorney may be able to give you a referral as well.

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I am a licensed China lawyer. Most clients are foreign nationals and companies. China Lawyer Blog have associates in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing, Qingdao, Fuzhou, Hainan, Hefei, Wuhan, Xian, Changsha, Xiamen and Hangzhou. Learn More

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China Lawyer BLog AuthorPeter Zhu, an experienced China attorney licensed to practice law for more than ten years, the author of this China Lawyer blog, welcomes any enquiry or consultation related to Chinese law.