Questions to Ask Your Divorce Lawyer
Several factors will affect the outcome of your divorce. Legal advice is among the most critical. Think of your divorce attorney as your advocate, your trusted advisor, your negotiator and your guide through the divorce process. You are hiring an attorney to lead you through a life-changing event, and it is important that you feel comfortable with your choice.
Before hiring a lawyer, take some time to talk in person or over the phone. This is your opportunity to assess the quality of the divorce attorney's legal advice, as well as the attorney's experience, approach and cost.
Background & Experience
Questions to ask about an attorney's experience and education include:
- How much experience do you have handling divorces?
- Where did you go to college and law school?
- When did you graduate?
- Have you previously handled cases similar to mine?
- Do you handle child custody cases (if applicable)?
- Do you have experience using mediation or arbitration in divorce cases?
- Do you have any other specialized experience that's relevant to my case?
Questions to ask about the lawyer's assessment of your case include:
- How would you evaluate my case?
- Realistically, what kind of settlement can I expect?
- What potential problems or obstacles do you see that could cause delays or affect the outcome of my case?
- Do you think we will have to go to trial?
- How long will it take to complete my divorce?
- Would you recommend mediation or arbitration in my case?
Case Management & Fees
Additionally questions to ask about how your case will be managed and how much it will cost include:
- Do you have the time to handle my case?
- What other lawyers or experts will be working on my case and what work will they be doing?
- How much do you charge, how frequently will you bill me and when will payment be due?
- What other kinds of fees, costs and expenses will I have to pay?
- Can you give me an approximate estimate of the total cost of the divorce?
- Are there less experienced attorneys or paralegals who can perform some of the work at a lower price?
- If you are unable to afford to hire the attorney, does the attorney work with any groups that offer legal aid for divorce clients?
- What kind of progress reports will you provide?
- Will you personally handle my divorce negotiations?
- Will you be my day-to-day contact or will I mainly be working with another attorney on your staff?
- What is the best way to contact you, and how quickly should I expect to receive a response?
Legal Philosophy & Style of Offering Divorce Legal Advice
Questions to ask about an attorney's style of lawyering include:
- What is your overall philosophy or style when handling divorce work?
- Are you more likely to tell me what to do, or offer options and expect me to make a decision?
- How would you describe your personality as a lawyer?
Before leaving the initial consultation, take the time to ask the lawyer if there are any questions you've neglected to ask, or anything else the attorney wants to tell you. Is there anything else you should know before deciding whether to hire him or her?
Ultimately the decision to hire a divorce attorney is a personal one. You want to trust your divorce attorney, feel comfortable taking your divorce attorney's legal advice and agree with the attorney's philosophy and style.