Marriage is considered a permanent agreement between two parties, however, in the United States, statistics show that the average length of a marriage is 8.2 years. If you are here, it is likely that you are considering divorcing your partner, or know someone who is. No one ever hopes for it to end like this, and it is unfortunate that it has come to this.
This article helps guide you through the key questions you need to ask your divorce lawyer before taking them on board during this sensitive time. Divorce can be one of the most traumatic experiences you go through, so it is important that you have the right legal, psychological, and emotional support you need during this time.
Let’s get started!
1. How Long Have You Been Practicing as a Divorce Lawyer?
Talk to your lawyer about their credentials, how long they have been in practice and what kind of law they have been practicing. Ideally, you want someone who has experience in dealing with various matters pertaining to family law within the state you are in.
Keep in mind that laws vary from state to state, and you need your divorce attorney to be well versed with the local laws where your case will be heard.
Which law school did they attend? When did they answer the Bar? How often do they go to the local family courts?
The essentials to keep in mind are: credentials, experience, knowledge, and location of the practice.
2. Do You Know My Spouse or Their Attorney?
Next, you must make sure that there is no conflict of interest. Does your attorney know your spouse? Do they know your spouse’s parents?
Do they know your children? Do they know your spouse’s attorney? If so, how well do they know them?
Ask them about their relationship (if any) with anyone associated with the case and examine whether you have anything to worry about. It is generally better to do a brief background examination before you meet your lawyer, just so that in the event that there is something worth investigating, you’ll know where to press.
3. What Is Your Philosophy for Divorce Cases and What Is Your Strategy for Mine?
Law firms as well as individual family lawyers have certain principles that guide the way they go about handling a case. Ask your divorce lawyer what their philosophy is.
Additionally, how do they intend to put this into practice while handling your case? What is their strategy for getting you the outcome you want?
During this stage, you must examine how confident you feel in your lawyer’s abilities to assess and advise you on your matter.
Do they seem like they are making big promises without a lot of substance? Is their strategy practical? Does it address the needs you specified to them?
4. Have You Handled Similar Cases Before?
Once you’ve laid out the facts of your case, make sure to ask them whether they’ve had similar cases before. If they have, how did they handle them? Consider the strategies employed in previous cases, and how the client’s interests were addressed in the outcome.
What were the outcomes of those cases? Did they all go to trial? Were there any out-of-court settlements?
If your spouse has a difficult personality it will also serve you well to ask your lawyer if they have any experience dealing with these personality styles. For example, divorcing someone who is narcissistic is a far more difficult and volatile experience than someone who is more agreeable. Negotiating with a narcissist can be extremely challenging on its own and you need a lawyer who is familiar with these patterns to help you protect your interests.
5. What Are My Options Considering the Facts of This Case?
While asking a lawyer for their strategy, don’t forget to insist on hearing about alternatives too. There is almost always more than one way to handle things and you need to make sure your lawyer is painting a complete picture for you.
What is your best course of action? How many options do you have? What are the merits and demerits of your case? How is a judge likely to rule given your circumstances? Is mediation preferable, considering your interests?
Press your lawyer on matters that are priorities to you.
6. Will You Personally Be Handling My Case or Assigning it to Someone Else?
It can so happen that the lawyer you meet with is not the only lawyer handling your case. Make sure to talk to the lawyer about who is really representing you and which of their fellow associates will be handling your case.
Who do you call if you have questions? Who should you expect an update from? What should you do in the event of an emergency? Who is your point of contact?
In the event that your case goes to court, who will be representing you?
You need to be ascertained that you are getting one on one attention with your attorney, particularly when times get rough.
7. Can You Give Me an Estimate for This Divorce?
Finally, you have a budget and you need to know that your lawyer is within your budget. So talk to them about their charges, but also make sure to question them on the other financial repercussions of the case.
This includes alimony, division of assets, maintenance, and more.
Talk to a Family Law Attorney Who Cares
Hiring a divorce lawyer is not an easy process especially when you are in such a vulnerable, transitional phase of your life.
We’re here to make it selection process a little easier on you. Type in your zip code and click the search bar to immediately access qualified divorce lawyers in your area or browse through your options via state or field of practice. Schedule a few consultations with promising attorneys, ask them your questions and soon you’ll have an experienced legal professional to take some of that weight off your shoulders!