10 Questions To Ask A Divorce Lawyer Before Hiring Them
There’s an old lawyer joke that goes: What’s the difference between and good lawyer and a bad lawyer? A bad lawyer lets your case drag on for several years. A good lawyer can make it last even longer.
While it can be hard to find the humor in getting a divorce, hiring a bad lawyer will only make the process harder for you. Choosing the right divorce attorney can make all the difference between feeling confident at the end of the process, or feeling confused and even cheated.
Getting a divorce can also be a very high-stakes struggle for many spouses. Property, child custody, alimony, and even social status can all be on the line. If you don’t feel confident that the person representing your interests is the best person for the job, you should consider finding a new lawyer.
But how do you tell the good divorce lawyers from the bad ones? First and foremost, use your intuition. If you just don’t like or don’t trust a particular attorney, no matter how good they tell you they are, don’t hire them.
Additionally, there are some basic questions you can ask each prospective attorney before making a decision that will help you evaluate them.
Questions To Ask A Divorce Lawyer
Here are a few questions you should consider asking during your initial interview with a family law attorney. These may help you determine whether a particular lawyer is right for your case.
1) Do you specialize in divorces, or are divorces just a part of your practice? How long have you been practicing family law? How many divorce cases have you handled?
2) What is your strategy for my case? How long do you think it will take to resolve my case?
3) How long do you take to return phone calls? How do I get a hold of you if there is an emergency? What do you consider to be an emergency?
4) Will anyone else in your office be working on my case? What experience do they have? Can I meet them?
5) How will you charge me? What is your hourly rate? Do you charge for the time I spend with other lawyers, with paralegals, or with secretaries? If so, at what rate? What is your retainer up front?
6) What costs will be involved – i.e., for private investigators, forensic accountants, physicians, and/or psychologists – and how will you charge me for them?
7) What’s your estimate of the total cost of my divorce? (Note: An honest attorney will typically tell you that it’s difficult or impossible to determine what the total cost will be up front because every divorce is unique and may take unpredictable turns. A lawyer just trying to get your business will likely quote you a low number in the hopes you’ll hire them. Once into the process, they’ll ask for more money.)
8) Will you allow me to negotiate directly with my spouse? How can I keep the cost of my divorce down? Are there things that I can do myself to reduce the amount you will charge me?
9) Based on what you know about my case, how would you predict a judge would rule on it? (Note: Judges are notoriously fickle, so don’t be surprised if an attorney doesn’t give you a straight answer to this question.)
10) What can you do to help me understand the tax effect of the decisions I will have to make?
Making A Final Decision
Remember, this is your life and your decision. If you hire a bad attorney and your divorce doesn’t go well, that attorney still takes your money and just moves onto the next client. You, however, will have to deal with the repercussions for much longer.
Whenever possible, take your time and don’t rush to make a decision. Asking the questions listed above will hopefully provide some clarity in your decision-making process. When in doubt, trust your gut.
At Vonder Haar Law, we value our clients’ trust above everything else. If you’d like to ask us the questions we’ve listed here, we welcome the opportunity to answer them. Please contact us at your convenience to schedule a free consultation.
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