When you have found a divorce attorney (if you must have one), make sure you understand what they are telling you and keep asking questions until it makes sense.
Family Law is a broad topic, and there are many subsets of specialization within that arena. Below are some questions to ask your attorney to guide you toward making the best decision:
- Do you specialize in divorce, or is divorce a part of your (larger) practice? How long have you been practicing? How many cases have you handled? (If your case is relatively simple, no kids and amicable, you may be comfortable with a less experienced lawyer as they are primarily crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s on your paperwork and ensuring you are getting a fair and equitable settlement. The more complex your case, though, the more experienced attorney you want handling the details.)
- What strategy will you use for my case? About how long do you think it will take to resolve it?
- What is your turnaround time for phone calls and emails? Will I hear from you directly or from someone on your team? How can I reach you in an emergency?What do you consider an emergency?
- Who else, if anyone, from your office will be working on my case? Can I meet them?
- How will you charge me? What is your hourly rate? Does the billing rate change if I am working with one of your paralegals? How much is your retainer?
- What other professionals, and their costs, may be involved? Tax attorney? Psychologist? Paralegal?
- How much will my divorce cost overall? (This is a bit of a trick question. There are many factors that go into the cost of divorce; asking this question and getting a firm, low-cost dollar amount may mean they are only trying to get your business.)
- What can I do to keep costs down? Are there tasks I can handle on my own that will help cut the costs?
- Based on what you know of my case so far, what kind of outcome can I realistically expect?
- How will you help me to understand the tax and financial decisions I will have to make? Will I need to hire additional help with this? Will you work with any other professionals I choose to hire to work on my divorce (strategist, coach, tax consultant, private investigator, etc.)?
There is a lot to consider when making the choice to hire your legal advisor. Take your time and don’t be afraid to ask these questions; you need not just the best person but also the right person to be there with you throughout the process.