9 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Divorce Lawyer

There are many lawyers out there, but finding the one that fits your requirements can be challenging. Before hiring a divorce lawyer, ask these questions during the initial interview to find if they are the right fit for you.

By Alycia Gordan
March 07, 2018
questions to ask divorce lawyer

Going through a divorce? We know it’s exhausting. At this point, the only thing that can make your life easier is hiring a divorce lawyer who can help you navigate through the process.

There are many lawyers out there, but finding the one that fits your requirements can be challenging. We have narrowed down a few questions that can help you find the right divorce lawyer for your case. 

Before hiring a divorce lawyer, ask these questions during the initial interview to find if they are the right fit for you:

1. Do you handle cases other than divorce and family law?

The answer to this question will help you evaluate the dedication of a lawyer to your case. Lawyers who are involved in other areas of law may not be as focused to divorce cases as much as the ones who practice it exclusively. Plus, the latter have more experience in and out of the courtroom when handling family law matters. However, that doesn’t mean that a lawyer who doesn’t practice family/divorce law will lose your case.
If you have a choice, select the one who dedicates their time to the one area of law that you seek help in.

 

2. For how long have you been involved with family law?

As opposed to answering how long they’ve been practicing law, ask them regarding their experience in family law. This is especially important if you believe your divorce is going to be difficult or contested. 

Divorce cases often go to trial. And if that happens, the lawyer will have to:

  • Conduct cross and direct examinations
  • Present evidence to the court
  • Make objections to evidence
  • Prepare legal arguments and file motions

If you know that an experienced and skilled divorce lawyer is handling your case, you can relax.

3. What is your fee structure?

It’s better to find out beforehand how much your divorce is likely to cost you in the long run. Sometimes divorce proceedings can stretch on for years, so it’s better to know how it will affect you financially. Here’s what you need to find out exactly:

  • Will the lawyer charge a fixed fee or by the hour? 
  • If they are charging by the hour, will it include the time spent answering your questions, making calls, sending e-mails or meeting paralegals? And the billing will be done in what increments of time? 
  • Do they have different rates for in-court and out-court time? 
  • Do you need to give them a retainer after hiring? If yes, what will be the retained amount?

4. How will you communicate about the case?

Communication is very important between you and your divorce lawyer. The sooner you sort out how it will take place, the better.

Ask these questions to streamline communication:

  • How often will your lawyer contact you?
  • Will they contact you directly or through their team?
  • What will be the mode of communication: phone, e-mail, or in-person?
  • What is the typical turnaround time for a return call from you?

5. Have you ever been in trouble with the bar association?

It’s not rude to ask your potential lawyer if they’ve been in trouble. If they answer yes to the question, ask them about the details. Evaluate their answer and then decide whether or not it’s going to be a problem for you.

6. What does the divorce procedure entail?

Unless you’ve gone through a divorce before, chances are you are unaware of what lies ahead and what to expect. Divorce proceedings vary from state-to-state, and the duration of your case will depend on your situation and how cooperative you and you ex-spouse are.

After evaluating all the facts, a divorce lawyer can provide you with an estimated timeline. This can help you if you have a full- time job, have to keep other commitments or want to evaluate your financial situation.

Ask the lawyer to walk you through every step of the process so you can be mentally prepared for what’s coming next. 

7. Will I receive/give alimony/spousal suppport?

Every state has different rules regarding alimony issues. Whether you are the one seeking or paying alimony, discuss it with your lawyer in the initial consultation so you can get an idea of your liabilities. 

When deciding if a spouse is eligible for paying/receiving alimony, several factors are taken into consideration. Some of the key factors include:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Parenting responsibilities assigned in the future
  • The difference in earnings of the spouses
  • The income and employment duration of the spouses 
  • Separate contributions to the marriage
  • Tax implications
  • Property possessions 

8. How will you make a decision about child custody?

Sometimes couples decide child custody matters privately, in which case divorce proceedings can be smooth and peaceful. If you haven’t settled this with your partner, then ask your lawyer before hiring them about your chances of getting the custody of your child(ren). Understand the factors considered by state judges when deciding which parent should get the custody.

Sometimes custody battles can extend the divorce proceedings. You may have to concede some matters so you can wrap up the case quickly. Ask your lawyer when it’s in your favor to settle and where you might benefit from challenging the issue. 

If you don’t want to go to trial, ask your lawyer about an alternative dispute resolution process – such as arbitration or mediation. If you and your spouse are good candidates for alternative dispute resolution, then you just might be able to reduce the financial and emotional cost of divorce.

9. What is the process of dividing marital assets?

Allocation of marital assets depends on the property laws, which vary from one state to state. This is because the property laws dictate the ownership rights. In the majority of states, splitting marital assets is simple, and both partners are assigned joint assets.

However, to avoid any biased claims against the property ask your lawyer to walk you through the process of dividing assets. Allocation of assets can begin right after the couple starts living separately. This can make the divorce proceedings shorter.

If you want to ask the lawyer more questions, don’t hesitate to add them to this list. It's your divorce and your future, so you need to understand what you're agreeing to and what you life will look like if you choose Settlement Offer A or B.


Alycia Gordan is a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare technology, fitness, and lifestyle. She is a tech junkie and divides her time between travel and writing. You can find her on Twitter: @meetalycia

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March 07, 2018

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