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Kathy Meyer is a certified divorce coach, marriage educator, freelance writer and founding editor of DivorcedMoms.com. As a divorce mediator, she provides strategies and resources to empower clients during difficult times.
Questions To Ask Divorce Attorney At First Meeting
Cherisse Harris is a fact-checker focusing on lifestyle, beauty and parenting. She has worked in research for nearly two decades.
How To Fill Out California Divorce Forms
Divorce is a big step, and how you handle it can have lasting effects for the rest of your life. No matter which side you are on, it is wise to seek experienced legal representation. If you’ve never been through a divorce before, the process can seem scary and uncomfortable, so before hiring a divorce attorney, you should do your research to make sure you’re getting the best one for your situation. For example, if you or your soon-to-be are in the military, make sure you don’t hire a divorce attorney who doesn’t have military divorce experience. In other words, you need a divorce attorney who specializes in making your life unique to you.
Ask the questions you need to ask to make sure the attorney can handle your unique divorce case. If the process of hiring a divorce attorney is overwhelming and a bit intimidating at this point, consider this list of 26 questions your go-to guide.
Hiring a divorce attorney is like choosing a doctor to perform surgery: you don’t want to hire someone who’s never done it before. Divorce can be very stressful, and the last thing you want to do to deal with the emotional and logistical consequences is to check your attorney over their shoulder to make sure they’re handling everything correctly. after all,
Ideally, you want to keep your divorce out of the courts to avoid additional drama and a lengthy settlement. An out-of-court settlement is essentially a compromise, so finding a talented divorce attorney who settles mostly out of court is a good sign to look for.
Preparing For Your First Meeting With Your Attorney
Like settling out of court, a collaborative divorce is a “let’s fight!” The mentality is distanced so that you and your spouse can reach a reasonable agreement in a non-aggressive manner. It is a type of problem solving that keeps the peace during a divorce. A collaborative divorce can end on good enough terms for you and your ex to be friends with each other.
While it may seem ideal to keep your divorce out of the courts, you should take it to trial. If your spouse has a rowdy or combative personality, things can get out of control and for that reason, the courts will give him or her custody.
If your lawyer is affiliated with your spouse, that can be a big problem, regardless of how your lawyer feels about him or her. Our own personal feelings or knowledge of another person can affect our ability to act without bias, so definitely don’t hire someone with any prior connection to your spouse.
Whether your lawyer knows your spouse’s lawyer matters less to you than whether your lawyer knows your lawyer, but it’s still something to consider. If they were in a seminar together during the first year of law school, feel free to stick with your lawyer, but if they were roommates in law school, you may want to hire someone else.
The 12 Questions About Divorce All Women Should Ask
Before enrolling in a college class, you’ve probably asked a few other students how the professor is, how they grade, and what their lateness attitude is, etc. Hiring a lawyer is the same, because before you do that, you want to make sure you know the reputation of your local judges and the directions they rule. If the judge assigned to your case is sensitive to custody and you’re seeking sole custody, you’ll want your attorney to know about this so she can plan a strong strategy.
The most important factor when it comes to hiring a divorce attorney is that you see eye-to-eye. If you are willing to mediate and negotiate, and your attorney is willing to go to trial, that disagreement will affect the success of your case.
For example, child or spousal support, large financial settlements, or business valuations all come up in any divorce case involving children or businesses, so you want to make sure your lawyer knows what they’re doing.
You hire a particular lawyer because you agree with their way of doing things, so the last thing you want is to delegate your case to other lawyers in the firm.
Tips To Help You Prepare For An Initial Consultation With A Divorce Lawyer
If your case is complex and needs to be reviewed and worked on by multiple people, be sure to meet with anyone involved for the same reason you meet with your lead attorney. Your future is in their hands, in a way, it is absolutely necessary to be familiar with everyone who works on your case.
Divorce is not a one-and-done situation, so if something urgent comes up and you don’t feel like it can wait until your next scheduled appointment to share it with your lawyer, you’ll want to connect with him or her by phone or email. Another question to ask is whether you will be billed for this communication.
If your attorney is juggling too many different cases, they may not have the time to devote to you. Your divorce is very important, so make sure your attorney has time to give it due diligence before signing anything.
We’ve all heard the phrase “on the record,” which is crucial in any legal battle because you may need to refer to a document or conversation for your case. If you think it’s important, make sure you have all communications with your spouse’s attorney and any other documents related to your case handy in case you need them.
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You can decide how involved you want to be when it comes to your divorce proceedings. Some people want to be kept in the loop on every single detail that develops, while others prefer to be kept in the loop only on the big things. If you are in the former category, make sure your attorney is available and willing to share information with you.
Just like being informed of any developments in your case, it is entirely up to you whether you want to be informed of your lawyer’s strategy. Make sure you and your attorney are on the same page before you assign a retainer.
Some people aren’t quite sure how they feel about big, life-affecting decisions like joint and sole custody of their children, so having an expert weigh in can help them make the decision. After all, attorneys have done this more than you, so they can provide some useful information on what goes into custody agreements and what type of arrangement might be best for you and your children.
Your attorney will probably volunteer this information without you asking because they want to make sure you can afford their services before they put too much effort into your case. However, just in case, leave this question early.
Questions A Divorce Lawyer Will Ask
Like tutors and therapists, most lawyers charge by the hour, so make sure you know what you’re getting into financially before signing anything. You may be comfortable paying for a retainer fee, but not an hourly rate, so make sure you ask for the total cost difference.
If the sole attorney working on your case is not your primary attorney, you may also be paying for other associates’ time. While this is very common, knowing what you’re paying for can put your mind at ease a bit.
Each organization has different procedures when going to court. It is not uncommon to be charged additional fees if your case goes to court.
Everyone has their own feelings about signing a fee arrangement agreement, but we think it’s a good idea. If you hire a good attorney, he or she may not try to squeeze you for every penny you have, but just in case, it’s always a smart move to make every dollar you spend count. A fee arrangement means that your attorney does not start charging you for additional services after you assign a retainer and sign an agreement with him or her.
Understanding The New Jersey Divorce Process
Like checks at a restaurant, bills tell you exactly what you’re paying for. Whether you want one of these or not is entirely up to you.
This is definitely something you should discuss before you hire your attorney, because while some attorneys look at a retainer like a deposit, others focus on another retainer if you use your original before the case is over.
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