Most people contemplating divorce will consult a divorce attorney to settle their affairs. It is important to approach your first meeting having prepared 10 questions to ask your lawyer to ensure that you get all the information you need to help you understand the process of divorce, if the lawyer suits your case and learn how they operate.
( Related: Do it Yourself Divorce )
You are paying for the services of the attorney, so don’t feel shy to ask about anything you feel unsure of or would like to know about the case. If you don’t ask the questions that pop into your head, you can leave the interview without knowing that the lawyer is a good divorce attorney and can help you with your case. If you are comparing divorce lawyers, ask each the same questions so that you can compare their answers and decide which is the best for your needs and your budget. Remember that you can’t always rely on your memory (especially during stressful times such as divorce) so it is best to record or write the lawyer’s answers down.
Here is a list of a possible 10 questions to ask your divorce attorney:
What are the steps involved in process of divorce?
The lawyer should explain the process of divorce clearly to you. Ask them to talk you through filing a divorce petition, the negotiation of the temporary orders and the actual trial process.
What is your experience in family law?
The attorney you consult will have a law degree, but may not only practice family law. It is better to hire a lawyer who specializes in family law. Feel free to ask about cases similar to yours so that you can have an idea of what kind of outcome you can expect.
Do you have experience in court?
Don’t feel shy to ask about the lawyer’s experience in a court of law. You can ask about the outcome of cases similar to your own.
How do you think a judge would rule on my case?
A lawyer cannot guarantee the outcome and specific results of a case, but they can make predictions based on previous cases they have worked on. If the lawyer understands the facts that will make the ruling more favorable they will be able to strategize the case in such a way.
What are your fees?
Ask your lawyer about the hourly rate and how often you would be expected to pay bills. Also ask what will be charged for any time you spend with other staff in the office and paralegals, as well as enquire about payment plans.
How will we keep in touch?
Ask your attorney how they prefer to communicate; whether by phone or email, and how tech savvy they are when it comes to scanning and sending documents via PDF. You are also entitled to ask how long you can expect to wait for the lawyer to return your calls.
How much will the divorce cost?
Although it may be difficult for the lawyer to estimate this on the first meeting, but you can ask them to give you an outline of what other cost factors you may incur along the process.
How long will it take for the divorce to finalise?
This depends on whether you have a trial, settle quickly, or settle after negotiations. Ask for an outline of how long each could take.
What other resources are available to clients?
Other than their immediate attorney services, good lawyers should also provide resources that can make the divorce process easier and less painful. Some attorneys offer referrals to other professional services, reading materials and recommended therapists or counselors. The character of your lawyer should also be patient and understanding.
Would you recommend mediation?
The lawyer should know whether or not mediation would be appropriate for the case. A good lawyer often uses private mediation or other tools for dispute resolution.