Getting a divorce can often feel like an isolating experience. However, you’re not alone. In fact, over 780,000 couples make the decision to divorce every single year.
As you navigate this new chapter in your life, it’s important to have a support system in place. This should include friends, family members, and perhaps most importantly, a divorce attorney.
But, how can you make sure you choose the right divorce lawyer for your situation? We’re here to help make the process easier for you.
Keep reading to learn about the most important questions to ask before hiring a divorce attorney.
1. What Kind of Experience Do You Have?
When you do an initial online search for the “best divorce attorneys near me,” you’ll likely return dozens of results, no matter where you live. However, not every lawyer that appears in your search results will be an experienced divorce lawyer.
Some attorneys specialize in divorces, while others practice other aspects of family law as well. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s worth discussing when deciding who to hire for your case.
You should also ask about the number of cases they’ve worked on throughout the course of their career and ask about how long they’ve been a practicing divorce attorney.
2. Do You Prefer Mediation and Negotiation or Going to Trial?
When you hire a divorce lawyer, you’ll want to find someone who has the same mindset as you do. If it’s important to you to work with your spouse and avoid going to court at all costs, then you’ll want a lawyer who prefers that option as well.
On the other hand, if you have no interest in trying to negotiate with your stubborn spouse and you’d prefer to go to trial, you won’t want to hire an attorney who prefers to settle out of court.
Making sure that your priorities for the case align will make the process much easier for you.
3. Who Will Handle My Case?
It’s natural to assume that the attorney you initially meet with will be your lawyer, but that’s not always the truth. If a team of lawyers will work on your case, as opposed to a single lawyer, you’ll want to know about that upfront.
And, if that is the case, then ask if you can meet the other people involved, so you stay in the loop.
Remember, multiple people working on your case isn’t always a bad thing, especially if your case is complicated. But, it’s nice to know who exactly is involved from the start.
4. What Kind of Communication Can I Expect?
Setting expectations about communication from the beginning is one of the most important things to do when hiring a lawyer. Will you have regular, scheduled meetings with your lawyer, or will you only hear from them when there’s an important update?
You should also ask about the best ways to contact them if you have questions. Can you reach them by phone or email or is it by appointment only?
During this transition period in your life, knowing how and when you can communicate with your lawyer is key.
5. How Does Your Fee Structure Work?
When you’re splitting up from your spouse, finances are likely to be a concern. You’ll want to know upfront an estimate of how much you’ll have to pay for your lawyer and how often money is due.
When talking to potential lawyers, ask them how much their retainer fee is as well as their hourly rate. You should also ask them if you’re charged for the time you spend talking to other attorneys, secretaries, and paralegals, so there are no surprises.
Finally, ask about the estimated cost of your divorce, based on the information you’ve given them. While they won’t be able to give you a guaranteed amount, they can help give you a ballpark figure of what to expect.
6. Are There Other Fees I Should Anticipate?
Once you know more about how much you’ll need to pay your attorney, ask them about other common fees involved in the divorce process. For example, you might have to pay more money if the case ends up going to court.
Or, you might have to pay a set fee for each mediation session with your spouse and their legal team.
These additional fees can vary by hundreds of dollars, but your lawyer can help give you an idea of what to expect.
7. Do You Have Experience Negotiating Settlements?
Depending on the specifics of your case, you might need your lawyer to negotiate a financial settlement on your behalf. This can include financial support in the form of spousal or child support.
If that’s the case, you’ll want to make sure your lawyer has experience in these negotiations before agreeing to work with them on your case.
8. What Do You Think About Sole vs Joint Custody?
If you have children, that adds another complication to your divorce proceedings. You might not know if sole vs joint custody is right for your situation, so it helps to get an expert’s opinion.
When you’re interviewing potential lawyers, ask them about their experience with custody agreements so they can give you more information about what could be the right choice for your children.
9. What Do You Expect My Outcome to Be?
Obviously, it’s impossible to know exactly what will happen throughout your divorce case. But, an experienced divorce attorney can listen to the details of your situation and give you an idea of what you can expect to happen during the proceedings.
This can help you go into the process with a clear and open mind, feeling more prepared for what’s to come.
Find the Right Divorce Attorney for You
By asking the questions we’ve outlined above, it will be much easier for you to narrow down who to hire for your case. With the right divorce attorney on your side, you’ll be able to get through the divorce process with relative ease so you can start enjoying the next chapter of your life.
For more advice like this on family and marriage issues, browse through our other articles before you go.
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