Because they are desperate for guidance and direction, many divorcing spouses make the mistake of hiring the first attorney they meet. To make matters worse, they often neglect to put him/her through a proper interview. Because of this, there’s a very good chance of buyer’s remorse. With that in mind, here are five questions you should always ask prospective divorce lawyers.
1. Do You Specialize In Divorces?
Because family law is an enormous area of legal practice, not every family or domestic law attorney has experience with dissolution of marriage cases. He or she may focus on adoptions, domestic abuse, or parental rights and obligations. It is actually not at all uncommon for attorneys who work in this area to have little or no experience in divorce cases, particularly those that go to trial. That is why you should always ask them how many of these cases they have personally handled.
2. How Long Will My Case Take?
Although it is impossible for them to give you an exact date, experienced lawyers should be able to give you a fairly accurate timeframe based on past cases that were similar to your own. This information can also help you determine how hard a legal representative will work to get the matter settled. As a general rule, those with smaller caseloads should be able to devote more time to your claim, which should help speed things along a bit. With that said, it is important to remember that initial time estimates are just that, estimates.
3. Will Anyone Else Be Working On My Case?
There are two reasons you should always ask this question. The first is that it lets you know if there are any other legal professionals you can speak to if the lead attorney is busy. And the second is that there are usually separate charges when paralegals and law clerks are used in researching or preparing a claim. If you can afford the added fees, an extra pair of eyes is generally a good thing on a dissolution of marriage petition.
4. What Is Your Fee?
It might seem incredible, but some clients do not ask their lawyers what they charge before they hire them. This hourly fee can range from a couple hundred to well over a thousand dollars. And since cases can last for several months, it is important to do the math in advance to make certain you can afford their services.
5. What Are My Options?
Generally speaking, there are three ways to resolve a divorce. If you and your ex are on good terms, you might agree to simply split everything right down the middle. In these rather rare cases, lawyers can help both sides complete and file the necessary paperwork. The second, more common option is mediation. Often used by soon-to-be ex-spouses who are still on speaking terms, this legal process helps them arrive at an equitable arrangement in short order. The final, most costly option is to actually go to court. As the client, you want an attorney who will not only explain each of these options, but also explore them to ensure a speedy, less painful resolution.