Dissolving your marriage can understandably be one of the most stressful times of your life. Navigating through all of the legal proceedings can be downright confusing. Choosing the right divorce attorney is the most important thing you can do when beginning your divorce.

Having someone on your side who can guide you appropriately is imperative. So, what should you look for when hiring the best divorce attorney?

Here are five non-negotiable attributes good representation will have.

1. Open Communication

Any time you are dealing with the legal system, you are dealing with deadlines and important dates. Having an attorney will quickly and open communication is important to make sure you are consistently making the decisions in the time frame you are allotted. You do not want to be waiting days for answers to simple questions from your attorney that will ultimately affect some of the biggest decisions of your life. Remember, they are working for you, not the other way around. There is no such thing as too many questions when you are dealing with a sometimes complicated legal system, and you should never be made to feel like you are bothering them.

2. Skill and Experience

This is the time to do your homework and really dig into where each attorney’s skill and experience lies. If you are heading to family court to fight out an intense custody battle, you want a top-notch family lawyer on your side to help secure custody and gain your ideal outcome. A large amount of property or many properties involved? Find a lawyer that is good with splitting the assets and will make sure you get the best deal possible. Ask for recommendations and follow friend’s referrals. Chances are, if you consistently hear good recommendations for divorce attorneys, they often get the clients what they are asking for.

This is also a time to evaluate your attorney’s confidence. They need to be comfortable fighting for the things that are important to you and not constantly belittling or trying to convince you to settle for less. While sometimes a nudge that you need to be more realistic can be good, constantly asking you to downgrade your wishes can be a sign of a lack of confidence from your lawyer. Their experience should be enough to back them up and win your case.

3. Availability

When you choose your lawyer, make sure they have the time and attention to give to your case. You will want and you will need answers fast and more than likely you will need your hand held through some of the proceedings. The last thing you want is your lawyer rushing you because they have too much on their plate and don’t have the time to devote to your case. Even with the best recommendations, if their caseload is too large, you will not have the same experience as someone else who may have used them when they didn’t have as much on their plate.

4. World Class Negotiator

More than half of the dealings in divorce cases are negotiations. You both bring your wants and demands to the table and you sift through them until you find the middle ground that you both agree on. And when you can’t agree, the judge makes the decision for you. Since negotiations are the main part of the battle, you want an attorney who is able to persuade the other party into agreements that work in your favor without bullying. The faster you are able to agree on things, the quicker and ultimately less costly the divorce will be. Remember, not taking concessions on every aspect you are negotiating can be the difference in how often you see your children and your financial health, as well as if you have to move and sell property. While divorce in general is full of life changes, having someone get the best for you will keep your life as status-quo as possible.

5. Honesty and Respectful

It’s no secret that attorneys are out to make money. It is a job after all. For most good attorneys it is their passion beyond just being their means of making money. The type of divorce attorney you want is someone who is taking your case to help you win, not just to make money. This is something that is easy to spot right off the bat. If someone takes your case, doesn’t respond back, and is quick to encourage you just to settle, they are only in it for the money. Avoid that like the plague. You want someone who respects you and your case and is willing to put forth an honest effort to get you what you want.

Divorce attorneys are a dime a dozen, and much like other professions they are far from created equal. Finding someone to take on your case will be as easy as walking down the street. You need to stop searching for any divorce attorney and instead make sure you are getting the right attorney for you. Never settle for anything less than the best.