Are you going through a divorce? We know it can be confusing, stressful, and emotionally draining. There’s a lot at stake, as you face significant legal and family consequences.
At this point, you’re going to need a divorce attorney who can help you navigate through the process and achieve the outcome you deserve. Retaining a divorce lawyer, however, requires a great deal of care and meticulousness.
To help you make a well-informed decision, we’ve narrowed it down to 3 questions to ask a divorce attorney during the initial consultation:
1. How Long Have You Been Practicing Family Law?
Your divorce attorney will have a substantial influence on how your divorce goes forward. As such, you want to make sure the attorney you retain is experienced and understands the law and how it will impact you specifically. Every case is different and has a different set of facts, you should know a general outcome to your case. Get to know the attorney’s philosophy and approach to handling your case and how they would tackle your case.
It also makes sense to ask the divorce attorney how many cases like yours they’ve handled. They may have hundreds of family cases under their belt but only a handful of those are identical to yours. An attorney who has taken care of cases like yours will know how to speed things along and predict the likely outcome of your case.
2. How Does Billing Work?
It’s better to discuss costs with the attorney during your initial consultation so you know how the proceedings will affect you financially. Attorneys are ethically required to be transparent about their fee structure. Here’s what you need to find out exactly:
- Is there a fixed fee or hourly charge for representation?
- If they bill hourly, does that include the time spent sending e-mails, making calls, answering your questions, traveling, or meeting paralegals? And is there a minimum fee if they charge by the hour?
- Are there different rates for in-court or out-court time?
- Do they charge a retainer fee? If yes, how much will it be?
- Are there other costs I should know about?
- Can I get a breakdown of your charges?
- Based on your experience, how much do you think this will cost?
Do not be afraid to talk about money; you shouldn’t hire a lawyer if their fees do not fit into your budget. It’s also important to ask the lawyer about potential strategies to better manage the cost of a divorce. For instance, mediation or a collaborative divorce process is better than costly litigation, unless your spouse is being unreasonable.
3. What Can I Expect the Divorce Process to be Like?
Even in the best circumstances, divorces can be difficult and overwhelming. Every divorce is unique, and just how long or complicated the process will be depends on the issues that you and your spouse need to solve and the level of cooperation between you two. However, there are general steps involved in all divorce cases. The attorney will walk you through the process and gauge how lengthy and complicated your case may be, based on child, financial and property-related issues.
Also, ask any potential divorce lawyer who else will be working on your case. Depending on how complicated your case is, the lawyer may work with paralegals, legal assistants, or other associates. they may bring on additional experts depending on the complexity of your case. You want to go over the procedure for bringing on an expert and how their fees are paid.
Communication is an important part of the divorce process and good communication is critical to a good attorney client relationship. To streamline communication, these are the question to ask the divorce attorney:
- How often will I be briefed on proceedings?
- What will be the mode of communication: in-person, e-mail, phone, video-conferencing?
- Will you contact me directly or through the team?
- How long do you take to return phone calls?
- What do you consider to be an emergency and how can I get hold of you if there’s one?
You should feel comfortable with a divorce attorney’s preferred mode of communication and responsiveness.
Asking the right questions should put you on the right path towards retaining the best divorce attorney for your case. If you want to learn more about the divorce attorney and your case, don’t hesitate to ask any more questions. It’s your divorce and your future, so getting to know what the attorney will bring to the table and what to expect is paramount.