You’re headed down the road of divorce, and it’s a bittersweet feeling.
On the one hand, you can’t wait to break up with your spouse and move on with your own independent life. At the same time, you’re dreading the rocky moments you’re likely to encounter on the way to freedom — you know, the fight over the house, the money, and the kids.
Know, though, that you’re not alone. After all, research shows that between 40%-50% of marriages today end in divorce in the United States.
How smooth your divorce proceeding goes has a lot to do with the family law attorney you choose to handle your case. So, before you choose one, here’s a rundown on the top 10 questions to ask a family lawyer before hiring him or her.
Let’s get started!
1. Ask Your Potential Family Lawyer, “How Much Experience Do You Have in Family Law?”
This is perhaps the most critical question to ask any family law attorney you’re interested in hiring.
You need a lawyer who possesses the necessary knowledge and experience to navigate your case in the most streamlined manner possible. An attorney who lacks family law experience might not understand your case’s intricacies in the same way that a seasoned lawyer would.
2. “How Quickly Do You Typically Respond to Emails and Phone Calls?”
When you’re on pins and needles during your divorce proceeding, it’s understandable that you want to hear from your lawyer in a timely fashion. For many people, having a lawyer respond to them within 24 hours is ideal. For you, weekly communication may be enough.
Before hiring a lawyer, make sure that you ask the attorney his or her policies about responding to your questions. A smart lawyer will give you the personalized attention you desire while also streamlining your communications to keep your legal expenses as low as possible.
3. “What is Your Method of Charging Clients?”
When you’re interviewing potential family law attorneys, ask them how they usually charge clients.
For instance, some attorneys charge by the hour, whereas others work on flat fees or retainers.
You may also have to cover other costs as part of your case, such as travel expenses, fees for outside consultants and court costs.
A reputable family law attorney will be honest about your case’s costs and how he or she will handle your billing process.
4. “How Often Have You Handled a Case Like Mine?”
If you ask family law attorneys this question, they’ll likely say they’ve handled quite a few cases. But, you should ask them how often they’ve handled cases featuring circumstances like yours.
Even if an attorney has handled more than 60 divorce cases, he or she might have handled only a few cases involving complicated alimony matters.
Especially if your future ex-spouse is adversarial or if your case might be contentious, it’s critical that you also ask how often your potential attorneys have represented clients like you in a divorce trial.
5. “Who Will Handle My Case?”
Many family law attorneys have teams of people working with them on complicated cases.
For instance, an attorney might enlist the help of a paralegal or a support associate. Accountants or financial advisors may also help your attorney to determine how to divide assets during your divorce.
This team approach could save you money in the long run and also help your attorney respond to your case’s demands more effectively. Be sure to ask your potential attorney how experienced these other professionals are.
6. “What’s Your Approach to Representing or Winning Cases?”
This is a particularly important question during a divorce proceeding. After all, if you’d like to divorce your spouse in the most amicable manner possible, an aggressive attorney might not be a good fit for you.
At the same time, if you want to take your divorce case to trial, you’ll need a family lawyer who doesn’t mind pushing the envelope to get you the best outcome.
7. “What Options Do I Have for Resolving My Legal Issue?”
In line with question number six, let’s say you fall under the category of those wanting an amicable divorce. In this situation, be sure to ask a potential attorney what out-of-court options you have for resolving your case.
For instance, the attorney may have a lot of experience with divorce mediation or collaborative divorce. Or, he or she may enjoy participating in informal negotiations. These divorce processes offer the benefit of being less costly and time-consuming compared with traditional divorce litigation.
8. “What Is My Case’s Likely Outcome?”
This is a fair question, as you naturally want to know how good your chances are of winning your divorce case.
Don’t choose an attorney who gives you the answer you want to hear. Instead, choose one who gives you an honest answer.
The more honest answer you receive, the more prepared you’ll be for what comes your way as you progress through your divorce proceeding.
9. “How Will You Get in Touch with Me?”
As we mentioned earlier, communication is essential when you’re working with a lawyer. In addition to finding out how often you can expect to hear from him or her, find out what communication methods he or she prefers.
Some attorneys prefer to talk by phone, others by email. Choose one that fits your communication style so that you have the most pleasant client-attorney relationship possible.
10. “Who Are Your Typical Clients?”
This question is frequently overlooked, but it’s an important one.
For instance, you may own high-value assets that will be complex to split during your divorce, such as a family business. In this situation, you don’t want an attorney whose clientele is predominately those in the lower middle class, where the splitting of assets may be a bit more straightforward.
Your prospective attorney’s typical clients will tell you a lot about whether he or she can handle your case with ease.
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