TEN THINGS YOU SHOULD ASK YOUR DIVORCE LAWYER
We all consult experts about almost every aspect of our lives. We visit a doctor to know whether or not we’re healthy. We go to an accountant to discuss what we might do to reduce our tax liability. We even sit down with an estate planning attorney to make plans for our assets after we pass away. A divorce lawyer is no different. While you don’t need to choose the first lawyer you consult with, you want to make sure that you’re seeking out true, professional divorce attorneys, and that you’re prepared to ask your divorce lawyer questions so that the process is as efficient as possible.
Making the Right Choice
There are lots of lawyers out there, and many advertise themselves as “family law” or “divorce” attorneys. However, family law is technically a sub-specialty that involves complex legal principles, which take time and experience to master. Within the area of family law, there are even further sub-specialties, such as custody law, international custody law, guardianship, etc. It is extremely important to hire a good lawyer early in your divorce process, but how do you determine who is a “good” lawyer for your situation? What lawyer questions should you ask? Here is a list, asked from the point of view of a potential divorcee, looking for an attorney:
1. How much of your practice is devoted to family law? You don’t want to hire someone who is just starting out in the practice of family law. There are many intricacies and nuances that can only be learned with experience. Now is not the time to give the “rookie” a chance – experience trumps personality, affordability, or charm in this situation.
2. How do you charge for your time? Some attorneys have different rates for their time, whether in-court or out-of-court, and you need to know this up front. In addition, you want to know in what increments of time you will be billed. Some attorneys break down their time into portions of an hour, while other attorneys will charge a minimum for drafting letters or appearing in court.
3. How much will a divorce cost? Do not expect the attorney to give you a specific quote on fees, but they should be able to give you a rough estimate and a list of services covered by that estimate. The more experienced lawyers should be able to provide you with a roadmap of the process and the cost for each step. You should be very skeptical about an attorney who quotes you a fixed rate or guarantees that your entire divorce will only cost a certain amount. Remember – you get what you pay for.
4. Do you prefer to negotiate and settle, and what is your attitude toward mediation? You will be best served by an attorney who is looking for ways to solve problems, not to create disagreements or make them worse. An attorney who is willing to try all possible avenues to resolve your case can help make your divorce less costly, both financially and emotionally.
5. How will you communicate with me when needed? Whether it’s via email, phone calls or text messages, you need to know how the attorney best communicates with their clients, and the time frame in which they communicate. You don’t want to have a unfulfilled expectation of how long you need to wait for a response from the attorney – that will only cause frustration on your part.
6. Can you explain the legal issues in my case, as well as the legal process? A solid attorney should be able to easily identify and explain the legal issues and concepts of your case, and help you understand the legal process behind the proceedings. You do not want to hire an attorney who needs to refer back to the law book every time you have a question.
7. What is your game plan or strategy for handling my case? Your attorney should be prepared to provide you with their overall strategy, even if it isn’t as detailed at first as it will be. You want your attorney to be proactive and not just reactive, which will save you time and money in the long run. Remember, the strategy may change during the course of the proceedings, but their end goals should remain the same, and be fully communicated to you.
8. Do you have experience working against the opposing attorney (if there is one already involved)? This may not be important to everyone, but it is helpful to know whether or not your attorney has dealt with opposing counsel in the past, especially if they know their weaknesses, preferences, or tendencies. If they have had previous experience with the opposing counsel, your attorney can better speculate how the case might proceed. If your attorney doesn’t know the opposing attorney, it is appropriate for you to ask them to do some research.
9. Will I receive copies of all the documents you generate and receive regarding my case?The right attorney will provide their clients with copies of everything that is received or sent out. You don’t want an attorney who is so busy that they forget to send you any documents that require your consideration.
10. How can I keep the cost of my divorce down? Are there tasks that I can do myself to cut down on the amount you will charge me? If your attorney has any integrity, and if it’s at all possible, they should be able to enlist your help with certain tasks, especially if that will save them time – a decent attorney’s end goal should not be to extrapolate as much money as possible from their clients.
If you have divorce lawyer questions that need answers and you’re in the greater Huntsville, AL area, the Alabama Law Group is the partner for you. Our vast experience and knowledge of the system can help you get the win you need in your divorce proceedings. Contact us today!