What Questions Should I Ask a Potential Divorce Lawyer?
Divorce is a very trying time for those involved. From the moment one party decides to petition for it, it becomes a case of each partner for themselves. Hiring a divorce lawyer becomes a necessity. However, getting in touch with the right one is harder than it seems. Finding the right legal representation takes some doing. You need to look carefully for experienced lawyers that know what they're doing. For example, Scottsdale divorce attorneys have been in business for decades, meaning they've handled numerous divorce cases. That's the kind of legal representation you need when going through a divorce.
For all intents and purposes, choosing the right divorce lawyer (or not) could have far-reaching consequences for your divorce proceedings. That's why you need to get it right the first time around.
For many people, knowing a divorce lawyer is usually through a family member's recommendation or a referral by an associate or friend. While friends and family may have good intentions, they may not know such a lawyer's qualifications. Divorce is one of those things where experience is key. A lawyer that has not handled a significant number of divorce cases will not know how to navigate many of its pitfalls. You don't want your divorce case to be a lawyer's baptism of fire. That's why it's important to do your own homework before hiring one, even those recommended by family members or friends.
A crucial part of this process involves asking the right questions. Such questions will give you a good idea of the kind of lawyer you intend to hire. This makes it easier for you to decide if they're a good fit for your divorce case.
Below are some of the crucial questions to ask any potential divorce lawyer before hiring them.1) Do You Focus Exclusively on Divorce Cases?
This is possibly the most important question you can ask any lawyer before agreeing to hire their services. Law practice is such that any qualified attorney can represent a client in just about any case as long as they are licensed to practice in that jurisdiction. While this may seem like a good thing, it presents several challenges. For one, such a 'general' lawyer will not know how to handle cases that require knowledge of a particular law subspecialty. Divorce can be a complex process involving several factors like custody, asset division, and taxation, among others. You want a lawyer that focuses solely on handling divorce cases. Such an attorney will help you navigate the complexities associated with divorce cases. Ask about whether they're strictly a divorce lawyer or are a family lawyer that moonlights as a divorce one. You want a divorce attorney that goes all in as far as divorce cases go.2) Will Anyone Else at Your Office Be Handling My Case?
If you're considering hiring a divorce attorney that runs a one-man law practice, you know that they'll handle your case personally. However, if you're considering hiring attorneys from a large law firm, there is a good chance that your divorce case will be passed on to a junior associate. Like most organizations, law firms have hierarchies. Unless otherwise, you can't expect a managing partner to handle your case. With large law firms consisting of numerous lawyers, there is always a chance that your case will be passed down to an underling– a junior lawyer trying to make a name for themselves in the law firm. Always get clarification about this issue before considering hiring a divorce attorney. The last thing you want is for your case to become just another statistic, lost among the numerous cases handled by the law firm. Always inquire about which lawyer will handle your case personally.3) How Will You Charge Me?
It's a good idea to discuss payments at the beginning of any interaction with a divorce lawyer. You want to know about their rates and how they are going to charge you. Most lawyers prefer the billable hour system. However, some may want a specific amount upfront. Divorce cases can get complicated, requiring the investigation of certain aspects like assets and offshore accounts in foreign jurisdictions. This may require a divorce lawyer to hire a private investigator or forensic accountant. All such costs will eventually be passed on to the client– you. Always discuss such issues to know how you will be charged for legal representation. Given that such legal fees are usually high, you want to ask any such lawyer about what you can do to reduce the legal fees. For example, you may want to conduct some investigations on your own to obviate the need for a private investigator, thereby reducing costs. Always ask about such arrangements to know if the divorce lawyer can accommodate them.4) What is Your Prediction for My Case Given All the Facts?
Attorneys cannot always predict the outcome of divorce cases with certainty. However, they can make a well-educated guess based on their experience, training, and local knowledge of divorce cases and judges in a particular jurisdiction. Asking this question is a good way to gauge a divorce lawyer's character. A dishonest lawyer will play up your chances of success in a bid to get your business. Another tactic is to ask about the total cost of the divorce. Given the unpredictability of most divorce cases, an honest attorney will convey this to you while making educated guesses about likely scenarios. Such questions will help you weed out unscrupulous lawyers simply trying to get your money.5) How Regularly Will You Give Me Updates About the Case?
Communication is key in legal proceedings as stressful and sensitive as divorce cases. You want a divorce lawyer that will give you regular updates. Such a lawyer should also be able to answer any questions you may have about any aspect of the case whenever you call. The last thing you need is a divorce attorney that won't return your calls on time, causing added anxiety to an already stressful situation.
These are some of the main questions to ask any potential divorce attorney before considering hiring them. Of course, you should have checked out their credentials to ensure that they are qualified and licensed to practice in a particular jurisdiction.