Here are seven key questions to ask a divorce lawyer to help you decide if they're the right lawyer for your case.
Divorces are tough even under the best of circumstances. Unfortunately, it is often easier to tie the knot than it is to untie it.
As with many areas of family law, the best outcomes are often reached if the parties are able to cooperate and find solutions that work best for them. But that’s not always possible, and even during amicable separations it is important to make sure your interests are fully protected.
If you are considering hiring an attorney, here are some of the key questions to ask a divorce lawyer when you first meet.
Many divorce lawyers specifically focus on handling divorce cases. While divorces do not necessarily need to be the divorce lawyer’s only practice area, you are hiring a divorce lawyer for their expertise, so it is important to understand how experienced they are with cases like yours.
As with many aspects of your divorce, this will depend on how complicated and how contentious the issues are. If you and your former spouse are on good terms and don’t have complicated property issues to work through, it may only take a couple of months. But if not, divorces can take a year or more.
(Keep in mind that timetables may vary state by state, such as NewYork compared to Ohio).
Many divorce lawyers charge hourly rates for their time, though flat fee arrangements are also possible. Some divorce lawyers may also require an upfront retainer, which is essentially a down payment for legal fees and expenses.
Your total legal fees may be hard to predict, however, because the fees will likely depend on how contentious the divorce is and how complicated the issues are.
Divorce lawyers often rely on legal secretaries or paralegals to assist with work. Your divorce attorney will be responsible for your legal strategy and should make any necessary court appearances, but relying on non-attorneys can actually distribute work more efficiently and keep your costs down. Regardless, it is helpful to know who will be working on your case upfront.
This is one of several process-oriented questions to ask a divorce attorney that will set you up for a productive relationship.
Divorce lawyers, like you, have different communication preferences. Some will prefer email while others might prefer speaking over the phone or by video. There is no right answer, and you should consider your own preferences between email, phone and video. But whatever the answer may be, it is important to know how to contact your divorce lawyer if any issues or questions arise.
Again, there is no right or wrong answer here. Some people only want to hear from their divorce lawyer if there is a major update or deadline approaching, while others prefer periodic check-ins. The key here is to make sure you are comfortable with your divorce lawyer’s standard practices, and that at a minimum you know what to expect going into the representation.
This is another helpful question to ask a divorce lawyer, or any lawyer that you work with.
If the conversation goes well and you hire the divorce lawyer, you will need to sign a retainer agreement and address other formalities. More broadly, though, your divorce lawyer will also need your help and your participation in your case in order to achieve the best possible outcome.
There are a number of factors to consider when hiring any divorce lawyer including pricing, experience level, and your comfort level with the divorce lawyer. Divorces are challenging enough as it is, so it is particularly important to find a divorce lawyer you are comfortable with and who will fully represent your interests.
These questions for a divorce lawyer should help you evaluate whether the lawyer you speak with is the right fit for you and what to expect if you choose to hire them.