Questions To Ask Your Divorce Lawyer During Your First Meeting
The process of seeking a divorce can be very stressful and conflicting. Even people who are happy to get away from a dissenting spouse and move on with their life will find the ordeal of a divorce to be very overwhelming.
When you are going to an initial meeting with your divorce lawyer, you may feel very confused and out of your depth. To make sure you make efficient use of your time with your lawyers, you should prepare some questions to ask divorce lawyers before meeting with them.
Below are some of the most important questions you need to ask:
How long have you practiced divorce law?
The experience of your attorney matters a lot when it comes to your divorce. There are some cases where the spouses separate amicably and negotiate all the issues among themselves. However, if you are dealing with child custody and a significant amount of property.
You can ask your lawyer how long he has been practicing in the field of marriage and family law, how many cases they have handled, how many of those led to a courtroom trial, and how many were won. It is very important to find out that your lawyer is confident and comfortable in front of a judge.
You should also ask them if someone else will be working on your case, as a junior attorney or paralegal. This is important since you need to know which tasks they will handle and how much each person charges.
How often should we communicate about the case?
Your communication frequency will depend upon how complex your case is. The more challenging the divorce issues, the more communication is needed. Typical divorce cases may require communication one to four times a month. Complex cases, however, may require communication way more times than that.
Ask your lawyer their preferred methods of communication as well. Generally, phone calls, video conferencing, in-person meeting and email are common. The mode of communication also depends on the client and lawyer’s needs and urgency.
Do You Have Experience With Any Cases Similar To Mine?
Forrest Gump may have been on to something when he famously declared that life is like a box of chocolates. We truly don’t ever know what we’re going to “get”.
Just as each individual is very different, each marriage and family is different, too. Some separations or divorces involve children, some involve already blended families, long distance and a vast array of other complex conditions. A lawyer who has experience in dealing with cases that are similar to your situation may be beneficial.
Do you have a team or any associates that will be working with you on this case?
Law firms, just as many other businesses and organizations, can vary greatly in size and complexity. Some larger law firms may have you meet with one lawyer initially and then have a different lawyer working on your case at a later time.
When it comes to divorce, some pretty personal details are almost always shared. Understanding whether or not the lawyer you meet with initially will be the one representing you throughout the case is an important consideration you may want to feel confident with.
Divorce Attorney Duties
Do you think that you get emotionally involved in your case?
This is a great question. On one hand, you want an attorney who can be objective, level headed, and help reduce the emotional tension in your case. On the other hand you want an attorney who will believe in you.
Do you consider yourself a trial attorney or a transactional attorney?
The reality is that divorce attorneys need to both be able to “get the deal done” and go to trial and win when a resolution cannot be reached. Divorce attorneys are both transactional and trial lawyers.
In your opinion, is it better for a case to settle or go to trial?
For the vast majority of people, the best divorce cases are the ones that are settled by agreement. For a minority of cases, especially ones with domestic violence or other issues of impaired parenting, a beeline for trial is the best course of action.
Do you see going to court as a last resort or as a first resort?
Most cases should start in a settlement posture, going into a litigation phase only if settlement fails. However, some emergency cases will need swift and precise litigation at the onset of the case.
Do you prepare for litigation with the contingency of settlement, or prepare for settlement with the contingency of litigation? This is another way of framing the question above.
Are you familiar with local family court judges?
Before enrolling in a college class, you probably asked a few other students what the professor is like, how she grades, and what her stance of tardiness is. Hiring a lawyer is similar because, before you do so, you want to make sure they know your local judges’ reputations and directions in which they tend to rule. If the judge assigned to your case tends to be lenient with custody and you’re seeking sole custody, you’ll want your lawyer to be aware of this so that she can plan a strong strategy.
Do you believe it is better to mediate and negotiate than go to trial?
The most important element when it comes to hiring a divorce lawyer is that you see eye-to-eye. If you want to mediate and negotiate, but your lawyer is dead-set on going to trial, that disagreement could impact your case’s success.
What Can I Expect The Divorce Process To Be Like?
Divorces are difficult even in the best of circumstances. Every divorce is very different, and the timing and difficulty of the process will depend on the issues that the parties need to resolve and the level of cooperation between the parties. However, most divorces follow a similar process.
The process includes filing for divorce, serving or notifying the other party, gathering information, possible temporary orders to address child custody, support and managing assets during the divorce, and some form of resolution through either a settlement agreement or a court hearing. During your initial meeting with a divorce lawyer, the lawyer will talk with you about this process. He or she can also gauge how complicated and lengthy your case may be based on the property and child-related issues you discuss.
What Are My Next Steps After This Meeting?
At the end of your meeting with your divorce lawyer, you will have some decisions to make. Some clients will need to hire an attorney immediately, especially if their spouse has already started the process. Others may not be ready to file for months. Your lawyer will likely give you a written contract and will require a deposit (a retainer) to take your case.
Your lawyer may also require more information from you before he or she can file. Before you leave the meeting, be sure to ask the lawyer what they need from you to effectively prepare for the next steps in your case.
Tell Me About Yourself
Your divorce lawyer will have an enormous amount of influence on how your divorce goes forward. You should ask your lawyer whether they have experience with the special circumstances in your divorce and learn what he or she will bring to the table. Each divorce attorney also has his or her own philosophy and approach to handling a divorce case. As with any professional, you want to make sure your lawyer will be a good fit for you and what you hope to accomplish.