Getting divorced can be a challenging, emotionally draining process. But, the right legal assistance can not only ease the transition into single life, it can help ensure that you are well equipped for success when you get there.
So how do you know if you have found the right divorce attorney? When you first call or meet with your prospective lawyer, there are a few questions you should consider asking to gauge whether you have found the right counterpart in the attorney-client relationship.
Questions about experience
Perhaps the most obvious first question to ask a family law attorney is, “How many divorces have you handled?” While this question is no doubt important, once the answer has crossed into the double and even triple digits, it is difficult to judge effectiveness based on the stark number of previous divorce cases an attorney has taken on.
You may wish to consider asking experiential questions more specific to the unique circumstances of your divorce. For example, you might ask, “What is your experience in handling divorces in which a small business is involved?” or, “Have you previously litigated divorces for high-asset clients?” The answers to these types of questions could be more probative of whether this attorney has the type of specialized experienced that is right for your divorce.
You may also want to ask about an attorney’s experience with others involved in the family law process. Does the attorney know the family court judges in the local jurisdiction? If your spouse has retained a lawyer, what kind of professional relationship does your prospective attorney have with him or her?
Questions about goals
Before seeing a divorce attorney, you should reflect on what you want out of the divorce. For some individuals, the primary concern is ending the marriage as quickly, easily and painlessly as possible. Others may be more concerned with getting ownership of certain assets, or having child custody arrangements tailored to their liking. Whatever your goals in divorce, ask your prospective attorney what strategies he or she would employ in order to achieve them.
You should also ask your prospective lawyer for an estimation of the likelihood that you will achieve your goals. No one gets absolutely everything they want in a divorce, and an attorney who promises the world may not be giving you a realistic answer. Optimism is great, but do not undervalue candidness.
If you don’t have a clear picture of your divorce goals when you first go into a family law attorney’s office, that is okay too. Your attorney can help you develop an understanding of your needs and wants in divorce, even if your goals change during the process.
How long will this process take? Will we communicate primarily through email or by phone? What is the best time of day to reach you? How will I be billed?
These nuts-and-bolts questions may not have much to do with the strategic merit of an attorney’s approach to your case, but will help you decide if you are compatible with the attorney in terms of your approach to doing business. The answers will help set your expectations and guide you smoothly through the attorney-client relationship.
Next step: Contact an attorney
Now that you know what to ask a prospective divorce attorney, the next step is to pick up the phone and make that call. Get in touch with a family law attorney today to begin the transition into your new, single life.