Without a doubt, being about to deal with a divorce is stressful enough by itself. But, on top of that stress, you also need to deal with the process of choosing the right divorce lawyer. That choosing process also is quite stressful which can frustrate you in such a time. Because of this, we gathered some key question that you can ask every divorce lawyer you interviewed in order to make the choosing process much easier. The questions you will find down below will make you see the most vital features of the lawyers;
The questions we wrote here are not the only questions you should, of course. But, these questions should give you a starting point for your interviews. And the answers you will get for these questions can shape your general idea about a divorce lawyer at the start of the interview. You can continue interviews according to those answers with more specific questions. Let’s look at the “Top 5 Questions to Ask a Divorce Lawyer”;
“Do you only work with divorce cases and family laws?”
The first thing you should ask during your interview with a divorce lawyer is the areas they practices. This is important to know. Because if a lawyer’s experience is divided between different areas they may not be as good of an option as a divorce lawyer who is specifically experienced in the area you need them. A lawyer who focusses on family laws and divorce cases generally is more proficient.
That being said, it does not mean that a lawyer, let’s say also works with criminal cases, cannot be a good divorce lawyer. They can very well do a good job in your case. It only comes to a preference of choosing the experience over possible skills in order to guarantee success.
“How many years have you been practicing family laws?”
The next thing you ask a divorce lawyer before hiring them is the amount of time they have been working with family laws. Notice that we didn’t just say “ask the experience they have”.
A divorce lawyer may say that they have been working as an attorney for 25 years or even more. You may think that this means that they will handle your case better than other, younger lawyers. However, if the lawyer has practiced only a few years within that time, some generally more inexperienced divorce lawyer with more experience in this particular field can be a better option or you.
Therefore, you should as a divorce lawyer specific questions about their experiences, such as “How many years of family law experience do you have?”.
Also, if the divorce lawyer you interview have been working in other fields before family laws, you may want to ask a question like “How much of your non-family law experience was litigation driven?”. Asking their litigation driven experience will give an idea about how familiar they are with additional practices that can be necessary for family laws courts such as trial and courtroom experiences, formal requests for information (a.k.a discovery), preparing paperwork to the court to file and set for hearing experiences.
“Who will handle my divorce case?”
Many lawyers work with a team of lawyers to be able to handle many cases at one. Although this might lower the lawyer fees you pay, you also need to remember that your divorce case can be some other lawyer than the divorce lawyer you interviewed. So, you may get represented by a lawyer whom you wouldn’t prefer.
Contrarily if you choose to work with a solo divorce lawyer, you may know that the lawyer you have talked will handle your case for sure. However, in this case, the fees can be higher. Also, a solo lawyer may have less time for communication with you as well as less concentration on your case.
Therefore, you should ask divorce lawyers about this detail and make your decision based on your preference together with other details.
“How will you charge me?”
There many different ways that divorce lawyers can charge their clients. Some lawyers charge you by hourly rates, while some others charge flat fees. Also, lawyers expect a retainer when they start working on a case. They use this retainer for covering the expenses during the case. But even the retainers can be paid differently by some divorce lawyers. For example, in California, the standard practice is signing a written retainer agreement if the expenses are expected to be higher than a thousand dollars in total.
Because there are so many different ways, you should definitely ask the divorce lawyer you interview about how they will charge you. Try to learn the method that they will calculate their fees as well as their estimation on the final cost of your case for you.
It is also important to mention about flat fees. While flat fees can seem attractive, if you consider the details, you may not prefer this method of payment. Divorce lawyers usually offer a limited amount of work with flat fees. Also, if your case is contested or requires multiple court appearance flat fees typically do not include the cost of those additional services. In such cases, the payments you make in total will be much higher.
Also, ask divorce lawyers about the external costs that can arise. Such costs may include filing fees, custody evaluators, forensic accountants, trials costs, and more. Try to learn about how the lawyer will manage these costs as well how much they are expecting.
“How will you communicate with me during the case?”
Another important point you need to learn about is how a divorce lawyer communicates with their clients. Since during the case in question, your lawyer should give you updates regularly as well as notify you when anything important happens, you would like them to use a method of communication that you prefer.
It is not only the divorce lawyer who will contact you. You also will want to be able to reach your lawyer when you have questions and you need help.
Some divorce lawyers can be reachable with a phone call at all time. There are also some lawyers who use emails as their primary way of communication. In that case, you should also ask about how long it usually takes them to answer emails. Nowadays, a divorce lawyer you will work with may also use messaging apps like WhatsApp or Viber. If you active use such apps, don’t forget to ask them about it too.