Few events in life can be as stressful and traumatic as a divorce. Along with riding an emotional roller coaster, you face significant legal and family consequences. During a divorce, it is essential to have an experienced divorce lawyer who can help you navigate this uncertain time and achieve the outcome you deserve.
To determine whether a candidate is a right fit for you and your situation, you should know what important questions to ask a divorce lawyer during your initial consultation. Below, we include seven of the key questions to ask your divorce lawyer during your first meeting.
1. How Will We Communicate Throughout the Case?
One of the questions to ask a divorce attorney on the first visit is about how you will communicate throughout your case. Being able to communicate regularly with your attorney is essential to a successful case. An attorney should let you know how long you may wait for a response, which can spare you from feeling frustrated later on.
You and your lawyer should also discuss communication preferences. Communication may take the form of:
- Phone calls
- In-person meetings
If you prefer phone calls, but the attorney prefers electronic communication, they may not be the right fit. A good attorney will be willing to customize their communication style to your preferences and to what is appropriate for the situation and information. For example, in some situations, a short email may be sufficient, while other situations may call for a face-to-face meeting.
This is also the time to ask whether you will be communicating with support staff, such as a paralegal, legal secretary or legal assistant. If you will be communicating with support staff, ask about their credentials and who will handle different aspects of your case. The amount of communication you may need to have with your attorney also depends on the complexity of your case. If your case is more complex, you and your attorney will likely be communicating more often.
You should feel comfortable with an attorney’s responsiveness, especially if a time-sensitive matter or emergency situation arises. You should also feel confident that your interests are being represented by every member of your legal team.
2. How Much Experience Do You Have and Will There Be a Team Behind My Case?
Another question to ask a divorce lawyer at the first meeting is about how much experience they have. Does this attorney specialize in divorce cases? You deserve a lawyer who understands the legal process for divorce in your state and has experience successfully handling these cases.
A general practice attorney may not be the best choice for legal representation in a family law case. If you have a child, ask the attorney about how experienced they are with child support and child custody. An attorney with the expertise you need will thoroughly understand the divorce process, know how to speed up the process and be able to effectively work with court personnel and other attorneys if you and your spouse end up in court to divide assets, child support and custody.
3. What Is the Fee Structure?
Before you decide to work with an attorney, you should understand their fee structure so you can determine whether you can afford to hire them. Costs may include a retainer fee and an hourly rate, along with other possible fees.
You don’t want to be surprised by costs later, so the initial consultation is the perfect time to ask what you can expect to pay for their legal services. If an attorney’s legal services do not fit into your budget, they may not be the right attorney for you.
4. How Long Do Cases Typically Take?
While no attorney can make guarantees about how long a case will take, an attorney experienced in divorce cases will have an idea of how long cases similar to yours took. Several factors influence how long a divorce can take, such as:
- Child custody
- Child support
- The asset amount that needs to be divided
5. What Communication Should I Have With My Spouse?
An attorney can advise you on what type of communication you should have with your spouse about the divorce. While you will need to discuss the divorce with your spouse, you do not need to discuss with your spouse what your attorney told you or what you said to your attorney. A divorce lawyer will explain the importance of the attorney-client relationship to you and why you shouldn’t disclose the communications between you and your attorney to any third party, even your spouse.
If you and your spouse are struggling to maintain amicable communication, you may want to ask your attorney for advice, as they can draw on their experience to give you guidance. The tools an experienced divorce attorney can offer you include when and how to communicate with your spouse and how to diffuse conflict.
Even during your first meeting, a skilled attorney can help you communicate with a difficult or even toxic spouse and advise you on when communication with this type of spouse should stop.
6. Are There Any Reviews or Testimonials to Help My Decision?
Testimonials and reviews from former clients can help you determine whether you want to work with an attorney. You may be able to find these on the attorney’s website or on other websites where consumers share reviews.
Be wary of testimonials and reviews that are written by friends, family or non-clients. Some attorneys may disclose this fact on their website, but others may not. If you believe an attorney has not given this disclosure despite having reviews from family and friends on their website, this may be a sign of dishonesty.
7. What Things Can My Spouse Do to Increase the Cost and How Can I Proactively Prevent This?
Depending on your spouse’s personality type, they may try to increase the cost of the divorce and make the process more difficult for you. A divorce attorney has experience with various personality types and can advise you on common patterns of behavior. A high-conflict divorce can cost significantly more than an amicable divorce. To increase the costs, a spouse may disagree on child custody, child support, alimony and the division of debts and assets.
During the first meeting, the attorney should be able to provide steps you can take to keep costs down for your specific case. Ask this question toward the end of your meeting, as an attorney must be familiar with your case to give you sound advice.
Learn More About Lauren Taylor Law
When you choose Lauren Taylor Law, you will have experienced representation in the areas of family law and divorce. Along with divorce, our experience covers the practice areas of child support, alimony, adoption, child abuse and domestic violence. We have offices conveniently located in Mount Pleasant and Greenville, South Carolina.
You can rely on our experience to guide you through the process of your divorce and fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to learn more about Law or to meet an attorney to discuss your case.