You’ve decided to file for divorce… now what? You might begin the process by confiding in a friend or family member who has gone through a divorce themselves, or you may search the internet for reputable attorneys in your area, sifting through the hundreds that are out there, all claiming to be “the best” at what they do. Despite how you discover an attorney, how do you truly know if they are the right match for you?
The initial consultation you have with that potential attorney is crucial. It’s an opportunity for you to ask questions to better understand if they are the right match for you, and if you are the right match for them.
We understand that this process is overwhelming. In times of stress, it’s difficult to formulate and remember all the proper questions you should ask. To help ease your mind, and in honor of April being Customer Appreciation Month, we are providing you with ten pertinent questions everyone should ask when meeting with a potential divorce attorney for the first time.
1. What kind of experience do you have with similar cases?
No two divorce cases are the same. In the event of litigation, even similar cases can have different outcomes depending on the judge and his or her application of the law. The one thing that should remain constant is having an experienced family law attorney who has handled similar cases, who understands the law, and who has practiced in the county in which your case may be filed.
2. What’s your strategy?
You are entrusting your family law attorney with your life—your family, your finances, your future. It is important that you and your attorney have similar goals for how you want your case to proceed and the end results you want to accomplish.
3. Are there alternatives to going to court?
There are instances where litigation cannot be avoided. However, the best and most cost-effective outcome to a case is often the one in which the litigant has had the opportunity to participate and, ultimately, decide how their case should be resolved. Alternative Dispute Resolution (including mediation and collaborative law) is a great tool for litigants to control the outcome of their case and should be one that your family law attorney is willing to explore.
4. What are my possible outcomes?
Regardless of the facts surrounding your case, there is no “one size fits all” outcome. Family law cases are fact-specific and fluid. The outcome of one case issue can, and usually will, affect the outcome of other issues. To manage your expectations, it is important that you are not being overpromised a singular result and that your attorney is honest with you about all possible outcomes—both good and bad.
5. Who will handle my case?
Depending on the law firm, the attorney who you are interviewing may not be the lead attorney on your case from start-to-finish. For instance, the attorney may oversee your case while it is being primarily handled by another attorney at the firm; the attorney may work on your case alone or operate in a team-based approach with other attorneys; or the attorney may function as a “case broker” whose job is to solely bring clients into the firm, and then someone else handles the case altogether. If it is important to you that the attorney who you interview and hire be the one who primarily handles your case, then you must ask this during the initial consultation.
6. What is my role in my case?
The family law attorney who you hire should allow you to make this determination. This should be an ongoing conversation during your case as there may be issues in which you must, or want, to be intimately involved, and others where you do not. Your work with your attorney should reflect a true partnership, always serving your best interests.
7. How much of your practice is devoted to domestic relations/divorce work and how long have you been practicing in this area?
Divorce law is both nuanced and technical. You want to ensure that the attorney who you are hiring is qualified to handle your case and has expertise in the family law field.
8. What is this going to cost me (retainer, hourly, additional fees, etc.)?
Deciding to proceed with a divorce is both an emotional and financial decision. In deciding whether you can afford the attorney you are interviewing, it is important to inquire not only about their hourly rate, but also about the cost of paralegals and support staff who will be working on your case. When selecting an attorney, it’s important to take into consideration the size of their firm. Choosing a smaller firm to handle your case is not always the least expensive option. Larger law firms usually have attorneys and paralegals who charge a variety of hourly rates, in addition to support staff who provide services at no additional cost to you. Smaller firms may need to outsource that work, which can become more costly.
9. What does the process look like from start to finish?
Divorce can be a daunting and uncertain process, and it’s important that you understand the emotional, financial, and time commitment necessary to proceed with divorce. There are certain rules that attorneys must follow to move your case from start to finish. Knowing the steps and understanding the roadmap can oftentimes ease the stresses associated with the process.
10. Tell me about you. (What do you do outside of work? What is your philosophy as it relates to the practice?)
Your relationship with your divorce attorney is going to get personal very quickly. You will likely divulge information to your attorney early on in your relationship that you would otherwise reserve for your inner circle. Your attorney will become an integral part of your support network during the divorce process. Being able to relate and connect to your attorney on a personal level can make the process more authentic and personal, ultimately making you feel more comfortable.
When asking these questions about the specific attorney and their qualifications, it’s equally important to understand the reputation of the firm and what the firm values.
This year we celebrate our 35th anniversary as a premier family law firm in the United States. Since 1987, we have provided the finest services to our clients. Our Attorneys are smart and compassionate people who understand every aspect of family law, offering an array of services. Leading Lawyers, Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, Chicago Crain’s Business, and many more have consistently recognized our attorneys for their continued excellence.
We structure our firm around the key principles of results, privacy, and care. These key principles influence how we work with each of our clients and have directly contributed to our decades of success. We extend our sincere gratitude to all of those who have placed their trust in us the past 35 years.
Hailee is an experienced and respected family law attorney who represents clients in all aspects of family law proceedings. Click here to learn more about Hailee.
Interested in our services? Visit: https://www.bergerschatz.com/contact/