There is no law in the US that says you need to hire a lawyer to get a divorce. Also with the overall cost required to terminate a marriage, many people consider handling the paperwork and court filings themselves. In some cases, this is a viable option but not in all the cases.
It becomes essential to hire an attorney in case of abuse – spousal, child, sexual, or substance, property related issues or anything that needs to handled carefully. In such situation, an attorney can help you with the legal divorce proceedings to come up with the best results. Also your interests can always be better represented by a lawyer. This is why hiring a professional lawyer is a good decision.
Hiring a lawyer can be difficult at times. Ask your friends or family members to recommend the name of best ones in your state. Once you get the name of the lawyers set up meetings with them. You will need to prepare a list of divorce questions to ask a lawyer before you meet for an initial consultation. These questions will help you understand whether the lawyer can handle your case or not.
Questions related to the experience and expertise of the lawyer:
An easy way to start your first conversation with your lawyer is to ask questions about his background, experience and expertise in this field.
- How long have you been practicing law?
- How long have you been handling divorce cases?
- How many cases have you handled till now?
- Do you practice in other areas of the law? If so, which fields?
- How much of your practice is devoted to divorce related cases?
- How many clients do you help file for divorce each year?
- How do you update yourself in divorce law?
- What percentage of your cases are Family Law and Divorce cases?
- Do you have any special training or certification in Family Law and Divorce?
- For how many years have you been practicing in this state?
- Do you have courtroom experience?
- How many of your cases went to trial last year?
- What additional expertise is available in your law firm if needed?
- Do you have experts outside of your firm that you regularly work with?
- How many of your cases have been settled out of court?
- Do you practice Collaborative Divorce?
- Do you know my spouse?
- Do you know my spouse’s attorney?
- Are you familiar with local Family Court Judges and how they rule?
- Do you believe it is better to mediate and negotiate than go to trial?
- Do you have experience negotiating child support, spousal support, large financial settlements or business valuation?
- Are you available via phone or email?
- Do you have a heavy caseload? Will you have time to devote to my case?
- If I need to reach you, what is the best time of day?
Questions related to the working style of the lawyer:
Lawyers have their own style of working. It is important to know the style of work to come to a conclusion regarding whether you will be comfortable with the way your lawyer works.
- What is your usual or preferred style for handling a divorce case?
- Do you recommend mediation to your clients and in what circumstances?
- Do you encourage or discourage direct contact between spouses?
- How would you approach my spouse’s attorney?
- Will I receive copies of documents filed with the court, all communication with my spouse’s lawyer and any other documents related to my case?
- Will I be kept informed of all developments in my case?
- What’s the best way to reach you if I have questions??
- Will I receive regular updates?
- Will you ask my opinion before planning strategy?
- What are your personal feelings about spousal support?
- What are your personal feelings about joint custody versus sole custody?
Questions related to case management:
It is essential to know how your divorce case will be handled by your lawyer behind the scenes. This will prevent any misunderstandings in the future.
- Do you have time to take my case?
- Will you or another attorney in the firm be handling my case?
- Can I meet anyone else who will be involved in handling my case?
- What experience does he/she have?
- Will others work on my case? If so, who? May I meet them?
- How long do you think my divorce will take?
- Will you be the person responsible for negotiating my case?
- Who will I meet and talk with most often during my divorce?
- Do you have a policy regarding how soon client calls are returned?
- Does your law firm have malpractice insurance?
Questions related to fees and expenses:
Hiring an attorney can be expensive. So, it is always better to know how much will be the cost of your divorce.
- Do you charge by the hour?
- What are your fees per hour?
- How are your hourly fees charged?
- Can you give me an estimate for how much my divorce could cost?
- What is your retainer fee?
- What forms of payment do you accept?
- If you charge a flat fee, what is the rate?
- Is a retainer payable and if so, how much?
- Do you charge additional or higher fees if a case goes to trial?
- What other professionals may I need to pay and what are their fees?
- What other services will I need from your firm and how much will they cost?
- What office expenses will I be charged for?
- Are there any other fees that I need to know about?
- Will you provide a written agreement regarding fees and expenses?
- Will I sign a contract outlining the fee arrangement?
- Will I be sent itemized bills?
- Will I be billed for communication via phone or email and what are the charges?
Ask the same set of divorce questions to other attorneys. Before you hire a lawyer, you should interview two or more to determine which one will be best for you. When you have finished interviewing the lawyers on your list, it’s time to select one to represent you. When you have hired your lawyer, you are ready to proceed with your divorce.