Divorce is a difficult subject. Perhaps finding a family lawyer is not something you expected to do. While there are many questions to ask and issues to consider, below are a few items you should cover during a family law consultation.
How much will my divorce cost?
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be clear on exactly what services you will receive for any quoted price. If a small retainer is required to get started, how quickly will additional fees be incurred? Does the attorney offer flat fees (one price for everything), or only work by the hour? What charges will be incurred by administrative staff, other attorneys, filing fees and serving the other party? Are these included in the quoted price?
How will we communicate and how often?
Does the attorney offer text messaging, a secure portal client portal for messages and documents, provide a web-based calendar for self-scheduling phone calls, email or do they stick to the traditional “call my office staff and ask if I’m available” model?
With so many communication options available today, your attorney should offer multiple points and methods of communication. With the stress of a divorce, it may feel like you need constant contact with counsel. While that is not practical or beneficial to your case, receiving updates and knowing you can reach out for answers is a great benefit and provides peace of mind during a trying time.
Who will handle my case, and can I meet them?
Are you dealing with a single attorney or a law firm? Will your assigned attorney be the only person working on your case? Will administrative staff, such as paralegals, or other attorneys be involved?
Hiring a solo practitioner may appear to be an advantage, because one attorney is dedicated to your case. However, a firm with multiple family law practitioners may provide better coverage, additional insight into your case and have a secondary attorney prepared to step in for a meeting, hearing or address a problem that arises unexpectedly. If other staff members will work on your case, ask to meet them. Be comfortable with the entire team.
Are you prepared to take my case to trial?
Many divorces reach a settlement agreement without a final hearing (trial). However, an attorney that is uncomfortable in the courtroom may give up more ground to avoid trial, opposing counsel may know their reputation or realize they are facing an unskilled trial lawyer. Any of these factors can negatively impact your results at the bargaining table or in the courtroom.
What can I do now to help my situation?
After the consultation you should be aware of the next steps to move your case forward. How should I interact with my spouse and children? What should I do with money, assets, or credit accounts? Will there be a domestic restraining order? A domestic restraining order maintains the financial status quo by preventing either party from spending assets, taking out a loan in the others name or selling property. Should I continue, start or stop paying any bills, support payments or other expenses?
Have a clear understanding of what your next moves should be after your attorney is hired.
There are many other questions you should ask a potential attorney, and that they should ask you. But these are a few critical topics that are important to your case.
When you are ready to speak to a family law attorney, we offer free consultations by phone and in-office. We offer text, web and phone appointment scheduling and a several communication options for our clients. We look forward to working with you.