Once you and your spouse realize that irreconcilable differences have caused too deep a rift in your marriage to repair, divorce becomes the more appealing option. You may be reluctant at first to obtain the services of an attorney – seeing as such a move might be interpreted as “preparing for battle” – but consulting with a lawyer as soon as possible is a good thing for both of you. This action need not imply that you want to take your spouse to the cleaners – hiring a lawyer helps you to better understand the process of dissolving your marriage and dividing assets, which is especially important if you have children.

When you know you have no intention to resume married life, your attorney will guide you through the steps of ending this union with your spouse. Alimony, custody, and child support are determined through negotiations with your spouse’s counsel, as well as disbursement of asset purchased or earned together – this could range from your home’s furniture to shares of a business you ran with your spouse. It is in your best interest to find an attorney to help make the process as quick and painless as possible. Finding the right lawyer to assist you, though, can be a challenge, but there are ways to narrow your search.

1) Personal referrals. Do you know anybody who has recently divorced? While this may be a sensitive subject, if you feel comfortable discussing it with close friends and family you may discover they know of a reputable attorney you can hire.

2) Lawyer directories and review sites. These days everything is reviewed on the Internet – books to restaurants to plumbers. A concise search on the Web will land results for attorney directories where you can research who is favored over others.

3) Professional referrals. Practicing attorneys are members of their respective state Bar Associations. If you want a lawyer who specializes in divorce, you can contact your state Bar Association or corresponding website for a list of potential hires.

4) Work referrals. Does your place of employment offer legal assistance as part of the benefits? It is not uncommon for larger companies to offer workers access to referrals for non-work related events. If so, talk with your HR manager to see about getting started.

You don’t have to broadcast your impending divorce to get a lawyer, but through discreet queries for help you’ll find people are willing to help you find the legal counsel you need.