Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Divorce Attorney
Going through a divorce is exhausting. It can take a toll on you mentally, physically, and financially. There are so many legalities involved that you may not be able to handle on your own. You must hire a divorce lawyer who can work with you through your case. But how do you decide which lawyer is right for you? Here is a list of questions you should ask a divorce lawyer before hiring him/her.
What is Your Experience with Family Law?
Many divorces cases get dragged to court. The divorce lawyer handling your case will have to examine witnesses, object to evidence, and file motions. All of these will require experience, and if your attorney is new to the practice, he/she won't be able to handle it.
Do You Specialize in Divorce Cases?
Family Law is an extremely specialized branch of law. If you want to get your divorce proceedings over with soon, you should hire someone specializing in family law, especially divorce cases. This becomes even more important if a child is involved. Then the lawyer should have experience handling child support and custody.
Do You Have Any References?
If you were to purchase something, you would never do it without checking out the reviews. And divorce is a matter of life. Make sure you ask your lawyer to share any references that he/she may have. Speak to former clients. Check if he/she has been in any trouble with the bar association. And if possible, call up the association and check if any of the lawyer's former clients have filed any complaints.
What is Your Fee Structure Like?
Divorce cases can sometimes go on for years. Even if they don't drag on for long periods, you will have to pay your divorce lawyer. It is essential to understand your lawyer's fee structure not to face any surprises later. Ask the lawyer the following queries about his/her fee structure:
- Is the payment by the hour or task?
- How much does the lawyer charge?
- Is there an extra cost involved in answering questions or clarifying further doubts?
- Is there an additional cost involved for court appearances?
- Is there a retainer system for payments?
Getting all these things cleared upfront is important. It will give you an idea of the estimated cost and will also tell you whether you can afford the divorce lawyer or not. Most divorce cases may come with hidden costs, and if you choose a divorce lawyer who is out of your budget in the beginning, then the additional costs can become a significant burden on your finances.
What Is Your Strategy For The Case?
This is an important topic to address before signing on with a divorce lawyer. While you may not understand your divorce case's minute legalities, you should know what the overall strategy of your lawyer is going to be to ensure things remain in your favor. If the lawyer is not sure of what he/she will do, you will end up spending more than what you expected and may even lose the case. This is all the more important if a child is involved. Not having a solid strategy for the case can lead to dire consequences.
How Long Will The Case Take?
There is no way of predicting how divorce cases will go and how long they will last. Since there are variable factors involved in the case like the number of assets involved, child custody, alimony, child support, and so on, it can get challenging to predict exactly how long each divorce case may take. However, an experienced divorce lawyer should be able to give you a rough idea about how long similar cases have taken.
What Is Your Mode of Communication?
Communication is critical in any divorce case. Your lawyer should keep you informed about every little detail of your case. Before you hire the lawyer, find out what modes of communication he/she will be following and how often both of you will communicate. Some common things to ask about communication include:
- How often will the divorce lawyer talk to you?
- Will the lawyer talk to you, or will the communication be through his/her legal team
- How will he/she communicate: via email, phone, in-person meetings, or all three depending on the situation?
- What will the turnaround time for a call from you be?
Remember, an open line of communication is crucial for a successful client-attorney relationship. There may be situations when you might want to talk to your lawyer at short notice, and you must be able to reach him/her. Knowing what the best mode of communication is will help at such times.
Will Anyone Else Be Involved in the Case?
In most cases, lawyers have a team of support staff who work with them. This team includes legal assistants, paralegals, and secretaries. If your divorce lawyer has a team working with him/her on your case, ensure you take a look at the team's credentials as well. Chances are most of the lawyer's work will be handled by this team, and you don't want them messing up your case. Also, confirm if you will have to communicate with the team or just the lawyer. Having all this information upfront is vital before you hire a divorce lawyer.
What is involved in a divorce procedure?
You may not be aware of the entire divorce procedure unless this is not your first one. Chances are, you will not be aware of what comes up during the whole process. Also, divorce proceedings may differ from state to state, and how long your case lasts will depend on your situation. Your lawyer must walk you through the process so that you are aware of what to expect.
Make sure you take as much information about any divorce lawyer as possible before hiring him/her. It may seem like too much initially, but getting all of this information can help you make a well-thought decision about hiring the lawyer.
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