Divorce is a crucial legal procedure that could impact your life moving forward. If you’re going through this process for the first time, you may feel uncomfortable.
Regardless, you must seek legal representation before any divorce proceedings. Furthermore, you want to make sure that you’re getting the best divorce lawyer for your specific situation.
To ensure that your divorce lawyer can handle your case, you must ask a few questions at your first meetings. These questions will help you determine the experience and capabilities of the divorce attorney, helping you get the best from the case.
Coming up with those questions can be overwhelming. To save you the stress of doing that, here is a list of questions to ask a divorce lawyer at the first meeting.
Questions to Ask a Divorce Lawyer
1- Do you know my partner in any way?
The last thing you want happening is your lawyer not performing to their bests due to emotional attachments with your spouse.
If your attorney has any previous associations with your spouse, the emotional attachments could get in the way of an unbiased job.
Therefore, you may want to think twice about hiring an attorney acquainted with or who has previously worked with your spouse.
2- How many divorce cases were you able to settle without court proceedings?
Taking divorce cases to court only prolongs it unnecessarily. Most times, the only effect of taking a divorce to court is elevated fees.
If you would prefer to have a quick and quiet case without the unnecessary hassle associated with most court cases, you may want to find a talented lawyer that settles most divorces out of court.
Knowing an estimate of how many cases the lawyer resolved out of court could help you make the perfect decision.
3- How many divorce cases have you handled?
The divorce attorney is offering a service. Most service providers don’t get it right at the first attempt. While they get better over time, you don’t want to be a source of experience to the lawyer.
Lawyers who have some experience with previous divorce cases always fare better than those without experience. Comparing the experience between lawyers could help you decide which one to choose.
However, this should only be one of the deciding factors. The fact that a lawyer has handled several divorce cases doesn’t mean he’s the best one for your specific case.
4- Will another lawyer be taking up my case at any point in time?
After conducting tons of research and asking tens of questions, you’ve decided to settle on a divorce lawyer.
However, it isn’t uncommon for experienced attorneys to leave your case for less experienced lawyers.
If your case is complex and needs the input of multiple attorneys, you should be meeting everyone who would be working on your case.
However, it’s always crucial to verify that the hired attorney does all the heavy lifting. You don’t hire someone who didn’t take the interview to take the job.
5- Can I access all of my documents at will?
Your documents are all yours, and there are no reasons why your attorney should be keeping them away from you. A typical answer to this question should be a resounding yes.
In addition, the lawyer should explain how you can view the documents upon request, as the case files all belong to you.
Depending on the complexity of the case and your geographical location, you may be unable to own a copy of some files, although your attorney may have access to it.
Note that you can still view these documents upon request, and you can own a copy if you represent yourself.
Most times, you may have to pay extra costs if the divorce process meets a specific condition.
Some lawyers charge for court appearances, and some may charge you for process servers, etc. In addition to the standard legal fees, your spouse may also try to increase the divorce costs.
At this juncture, you can ask your lawyer what you can do to keep the costs down and possibly prevent your spouse from pushing the divorce costs through the roof.
7- What are the available means of communication?
Good divorce lawyers are excellent communicators. They must be available to answer your questions at any time while reaching you for information if need be.
Your divorce lawyer will typically list phone calls, emails, and regular in-person meetings as some of the methods of communication you’ll use during the case.
Also, you may be exchanging documents with your attorney regularly, and your attorney should provide a suitable avenue for that.
8- Do you have any testimonials or reviews from former clients?
If you hired an attorney you found on the internet, there are high chances that you’ve read a couple of testimonials from their website already.
However, online reviews are hard to trust. You don’t rely on reviews probably written by family and friends who have never had to go through a divorce proceeding.
When discussing with your divorce lawyer for the first time, it’s crucial to ask for testimonials from past clients.
If an attorney can’t provide testimonials or hosts fake testimonials on their website, you should rethink before choosing them.
A legal practitioner shouldn’t be hosting fake reviews on their website, and a qualified divorce lawyer will probably have a couple of reviews from past clients.
9- How long will the divorce process take?
An honest answer to this question is that there is almost no way to predict the actual length of a divorce process correctly.
However, an experienced divorce lawyer will compare your case with similar ones and propose a realistic timeline for the divorce process.
This question is crucial if you need to do other things immediately after the process without disturbances or mandated court appearances.
10- Are you into collaborative divorce?
Collaborative divorce is mostly an out-of-court agreement to dissolve a marriage on peaceful terms.
If your attorney practices collaborative divorce, you could end the marriage without having to be aggressive or combatant about it.
However, not all divorces can be processed collaboratively. The success of a collaborative divorce process depends on the cooperation of your spouse.
If your spouse or spouse’s attorney doesn’t believe in dissolving the marriage collaboratively, you don’t have many options.
11- How much will the divorce cost?
Like most things relating to divorce, it is almost impossible to determine how much you will be shelling out for the divorce process.
However, experienced divorce lawyers should be able to predict a realistic range.
Also, the lawyer should state some of the factors that can reduce the total cost of the divorce.
A peaceful divorce with no financial disagreements will be less expensive than a divorce with many conflicts over finances and custody.
12- Do I get or have to pay alimony?
As a party usually dedicate themselves to home keeping after marriage, it’s unfair to dissolve a marriage without any provisions for them to restart all over.
Depending on what side you’re on, you may get or have to pay alimony. Usually, your lawyer should tell if you qualify to receive or pay alimony, but that is only when you ask.
Therefore, putting this in the list of things you should ask your divorce lawyer can prepare you for the financial realities of your divorce.
13- Do you have a high caseload at the moment?
Divorce proceedings are usually tasking, and they require extra dedication, both on your part and on the part of your attorney.
Before entrusting your case to a lawyer, you want to ensure that they don’t have a lot on their shoulders.
If an attorney has a high caseload, it may put you in the backlog, leading to negligence and jeopardizing the divorce process.
14- What kind of discussion can I have with my spouse?
This question is crucial if you want a peaceful divorce without unnecessary conflict. You want to keep in touch with your soon-to-be-ex without divulging any unnecessary information.
An experienced divorce lawyer should show you how much you can discuss with your spouse and examples of off-limit discussions.
Sometimes, you don’t even need to communicate with your would-be ex or his attorney at all. This situation is usually the case if they don’t support an amicable resolution.
Filing for a divorce is a crucial step, and you want to make sure you’re getting the best out of it. That’s why you’re hiring an attorney.
However, if you’re unable to hire a good lawyer, you’ll struggle to make a case, and the divorce may end up unfavorably.
An experienced lawyer is a good lawyer. Here are some questions to ask a divorce lawyer before allowing them to pick your case and answers you should expect.
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