Questions to Ask When Hiring a Divorce Lawyer
Before you hire a divorce lawyer, you should interview one or more to determine whether you would work well together. If you have no idea which questions to ask, we can help.
Most divorce lawyers are willing to chat briefly in a first meeting, called an initial consultation. This is where you'll interview them.
Background And Experience
An easy way to start your conversation is with questions about the divorce lawyer's background. Consider asking:
- How long have you been practicing law?
- How long have you been handling divorces?
- Do you practice in other areas of the law? If so, which?
- How much of your practice is devoted to divorce cases?
- How many clients do you help file for divorce each year?
- How do you stay on top of changes in divorce law?
Divorce attorneys have their own style. To find out what it might be like working with a divorce lawyer, ask:
- How would you approach my spouse's lawyer? Like a pit bull or would you go in gently?
- Do you recommend mediation?
- Do you often settle your cases? How often do your clients end up having a judge decide the major issues of the divorce?
Another great component of the initial consultation is getting feedback about how your divorce may go. The divorce lawyers are sure to have questions for you about your situation. Answer them honestly. Then ask:
- What are the obstacles to a smooth divorce?
- How can we best divide the property and debts?
- I want custody of my children. What's the best way to achieve that?
- How long will my divorce take?
You will want to know how your divorce case is handled behind the scenes. This will prevent any misunderstandings in the future. Some relevant questions to ask are:
- Do you have time to take my divorce case?
- Will others work on my divorce? If so, who? May I meet them?
- Will you be the one representing me during negotiations with my spouse's lawyer?
- What's the best way to reach you if I have questions? How fast should I expect a reply?
- Will I receive regular updates?
You'll want to know how much your divorce is going to cost in legal fees and expenses. Divorce attorneys mostly bill by the hour. If your divorce is amicable and you have little property to split and no children, you might find a lawyer who charges a flat fee. Ask questions such as:
- Do you charge by the hour? If so, what is your rate? Can you give me a ballpark estimate for how much my divorce could cost?
- Do you ask for a retainer fee? When is payment due? What forms of payment do you accept?
- If you charge a flat fee, what is the rate? What does that price include? What's not included? Is it refundable if I try to reconcile or switch attorneys?
- Besides paying for your time, what other expenses am I expected to pay? Can you estimate how much they might total?
Choosing A Divorce Lawyer
When you have finished interviewing the divorce attorneys on your list, it's time to select one to represent you. Consider which lawyer had the best experience, style that meshed with yours, advice you liked and a legal fee that is fair. Then ask yourself which lawyer made you feel most confident.
When you have hired your lawyer, you are ready to proceed with your divorce.