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Question to Ask a Divorce Attorney

After trying all that you can before to stay together with your partner and your last resort is a divorce, you will need to turn to a divorce attorney. But just be sure to find a divorce attorney that has experience fighting for clients with needs like yours. If you're looking to win custody, win housing / posessions, etc...

Questions about the lawyer’s Experience and Expertise

  • What percentage of your cases are Family Law and Divorce cases?
  • Do you have any special training or certification in Family Law and Divorce that distinguishes you as a “divorce specialist”?
  • For how many years have you been handling divorce and family law cases?
  • For how many years have you been practicing in this state/county?
  • Do you have courtroom experience?
  • How many of your cases went to trial last year?
  • Do you personally have any additional expertise/experience that may be useful in my case? (e.g. financial expertise, extensive child custody and support experience?)
  • What additional expertise is available in your law firm if needed? (e.g. accountants.)
  • Do you have experts outside of your firm that you regularly work with? (e.g. accountants, psychologists, counselors.)

Questions about the lawyer’s Philosophy/Management Style

  • What is your usual or preferred strategy or “philosophy” for handling a divorce case?
  • Do you recommend mediation to your clients?
  • In what circumstances?
  • Are you a trained mediator/trained in collaborative law?
  • Overall, what percentage of your divorce cases go to trial?
  • In what circumstances?
  • Do you encourage or discourage direct contact between spouses?

Questions to ask about Case Management and Contact

  • Do you have time for my divorce case, or a heavy caseload at this time?
  • How long do you think my divorce will take?
  • Besides yourself, what other people in your firm would work on my case? (e.g. paralegals, associate lawyers)
  • Will you be the person responsible for negotiating my divorce case?
  • Who will I meet and talk with most often during my divorce? You or your assistant(s)?
  • Will I be able to contact you directly?
  • How will I be able to contact you – by email/phone/fax?
  • Do you have a policy regarding how soon client calls are returned?
  • Will I receive copies of all legal documents and correspondence?
  • Does your law firm have malpractice insurance?

Questions to ask about Fees and Expenses

  • Is a retainer payable and if so, how much?
  • What are your fees per hour?
  • How are your hourly fees charged? (e.g. by the exact number of minutes or in blocks of 5, 10 or 15 minutes, etc.)
  • Do you charge additional or higher fees if a case goes to trial? (e.g. for days in court.)
  • What are the hourly rates for the other people in your law firm who would work on my case? (e.g. paralegals, secretaries, associate lawyer.)
  • What other professionals may I need to pay and what are their fees? (e.g. accountants, property appraisers, child psychologists, private investigators.)
  • What other services will I need from your firm and how much will they cost? (e.g. new will, property appraisal, deeds, trusts)
  • What office expenses will I be charged for? (e.g. faxes, photocopying, etc.)
  • Are there any other fees/expenses that I need to know about?
  • In total, how much do you estimate my divorce will cost? (e.g. a best case scenario/minimum cost, or likely range.)
  • Are there any ways in which you believe your firm offers better value to clients?
  • Will you provide a written agreement regarding fees and expenses?

Wrapping up

  • Ask the divorce lawyer if there is anything else you should know or that they would like to add, and thank them for their responses.
  • Ask if you can meet others in the firm who would work on your case, now or later.
  • Ask if you can call if you have any further questions for the divorce lawyer.

Copyright 2007 Caroline Mackenzie

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