Questions To Ask A Lawyer In An Informational Interview – Getting to an initial consultation with a divorce attorney can seem intimidating. There are so many factors to consider and you never know what questions to ask.
It’s a good idea to come prepared to understand how a lawyer can help you navigate the divorce process and whether it’s a good fit for your needs. Here is a list of questions to ask a divorce attorney at your first meeting to better understand the divorce process and your qualifications.
Questions To Ask A Lawyer In An Informational Interview
Ask About The Divorce Process And Your Past Experiences 1. What is your experience in divorce? Is this your specialty?
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Experience is important. Typically, a lawyer or law firm’s qualifications are listed on their website, but ask what their specialty is. Are they more familiar with divorce law, family law cases or the other way around? Once you know what their specialty is, you’ll find out how experienced they are. How many and what types of divorce cases do they handle? Were they able to settle them out of court?
If you have children and custody is in question, you want a family law attorney with experience handling child custody cases. If you’re concerned about spousal support, you’ll want a lawyer with experience handling these types of cases.
You must ask yourself what you and your spouse will go through in the divorce process. How much does it cost, including the deposit fee? How long does it last? What steps do you need to take?
If you think your divorce case will go to trial, you can ask the attorney how a judge is likely to decide your case. This is another reason why it helps to know that the attorney you are consulting with has experience with the type of divorce proceedings you may be entering. They can learn about the laws in their state and how the courts often decide issues like property division, child custody, child support, and child support in cases like yours.
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Provide the attorney you’re consulting with information about your case, such as whether you don’t expect it to be contested, and ask how long your divorce proceedings might take in the state you’re filing.
There are several different types of divorce cases. Describe how you want to proceed and ask the attorney which categories might apply to your preferred approach. Do you expect your case to be a fail or no fail case? Are you open to mediation or arbitration? Would you consider a collaborative divorce, where lawyers for both parties work together to resolve the case amicably? These are some questions you can discuss to determine the best way forward.
Depending on the type of your case, you may wonder if there is a settlement agreement you need to make. A marital settlement agreement allows divorced spouses to come to an agreement on the terms of their divorce. Such an agreement is a legally binding document that can address a variety of topics from child support (maintenance) to child visitation (parental time) and property distribution. This may involve an offer-and-counter process with you and your spouse. It’s a good idea to ask your attorney how this process works.
You might wonder how the negotiation process will depend on how each spouse views it. The attorney you speak with should be experienced in such negotiations so he can tell you what to expect.
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The attorney you speak with may not be the only one working on your case. Consider asking whether lawyers or other individuals can be involved and what services they can provide if you decide to hire a lawyer. Is the attorney you are consulting part of a large law firm? How much of the case will be delegated to other people in the office, such as paralegals, and how much will the lawyer do in person?
Divorces can be expensive: the divorce process and the final settlement or court ruling can take a significant financial toll on both parties. With that in mind, you should ask about the financial costs of divorce so your attorney can help you meet your needs.
As of 2020, the average cost of a divorce is $12,900, but these costs vary greatly depending on the type of case involved. An uncontested divorce with no major issues costs an average of $4,100, but divorces resolved on two or more issues cost more: an average of $23,000.
You can ask about the average total cost of a divorce, including fees. Filing fees vary from state to state (for example, it was only $75 in North Carolina in 2020, but $435 in California), and attorney fees vary from office to office. Be sure to ask what you are getting for your money and what are the most expensive elements of your divorce.
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You can ask how much the attorney you consult charges per hour. Make sure you are clear about what you are charging; ask the specific services they provide and how long they last. For reference, the average hourly rate for a divorce attorney in 2020 was $270, but about 1 in 10 (11%) of clients said their lawyers charged $100 an hour and 2 in 10 said they paid $400 or more.
You need to know how you will be charged, what payment types they accept, and more. Do they accept credit cards, for example, and when do they require payment? At what point do you want to pay?
Are there any additional fees that can come with divorce proceedings? Are there retention fees in addition to hourly rates?
It depends on your partner’s actions and behavior. Lawyers usually charge an hourly rate, which means that longer battles with your spouse, children or other personal issues can result in more fees and costs.
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In most cases, each spouse is responsible for paying their own attorney. But you might want to know if there are any circumstances where you also have to pay your spouse’s attorney fees. In some cases, a dependent spouse who qualifies for child support can ask the court to have the other spouse pay attorney fees. You should be prepared for this possibility if you are divorcing a dependent spouse. In other cases, behavior such as hiding assets or refusing to provide documents may be grounds for awarding attorney fees to the opposing party.
When all the fees and costs are added up, you might find the price a little steep. If that’s the case, you can ask about cost-saving alternatives. For example, using paralegals or law firm partners can be cheaper than keeping a partner. Do as much of your own work as you can in terms of keeping your paperwork and financial records in order. Be careful with your lawyer’s emails and phone calls: remember, they charge by the hour.
While this may vary from situation to situation, you may want to ask if there are other types of arrangements that must be made to receive spousal or child support. If you and your divorced spouse reach an agreement on these issues, you will save the cost of court time and attorney fees.
You need to know who will handle your case and whether to communicate directly with that person or someone else at the law firm.
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You might wonder if there’s something important you need to tell your spouse, like how to go to court, fill out papers, or what to do. The more you can decide together with your spouse, the more time and money you will save, but you should ask your lawyer what is in your best interest to discuss.
Different attorneys may have different preferences when it comes to staying in touch. Others may prefer emails for simple questions but want to meet you in person or speak via phone or video call to discuss key aspects of the case. Again, keep in mind that most divorce attorneys charge by the hour, so the more time you spend arguing the case, the more you will be charged.
On the other hand, you don’t want to cut major issues or you could end up paying more in other ways, like property distribution or child support. Make sure you understand everything before signing it.
The attorney you meet can give you advice on how to defend an “amicable” divorce. They can provide you with communication tools so that you can more effectively communicate with your divorced spouse and move beyond raw emotions to practical solutions that lead to a fair and timely settlement.
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You may not be able to make a decision about representation right away, so it’s a good idea to ask for the lawyer’s contact information on the case.
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