How to Interview a Divorce Lawyer: The Right Questions to Ask
Filing for divorce or being served with divorce papers is perhaps one of the most daunting experiences spouses can ever go through. For the average person, this is usually a very confusing and troubling moment as they suddenly find themselves in unknown territory with no idea on how to proceed. While some may immediately get recommendations from friends and family on what to do next, the case is usually very different for others. Whatever end of this table you find yourself at, one thing is certain: you need a divorce lawyer.
Hiring a divorce lawyer comes with its own complications and requires a great deal of care and meticulousness from all parties involved. A great deal of your personal life and space will be shared so it’s vital that you make the right decisions from the onset. Although this may not always be a straightforward process, preparing well in advance should ideally help you make well informed decisions, especially as it relates to hiring the right lawyer for the job.
This article aims to provide some useful considerations to take into account, as well as what questions to ask, when you’re preparing to take that all important step of interviewing a divorce lawyer.
1. Get Recommendations
This should ideally be one of the first moves you make as you search for a lawyer to represent you. Get in touch with a family member or friend who has gone through a divorce and speak with them to ascertain whether their lawyer or even their spouse’s may be right for you. While this is a great starting point, it’s even more important to get a personal feel of a potential lawyer via an interview, so don’t think you’re finished just because your friend loved her lawyer. What works great for someone may not work for you, and vice versa.
2. Do your investigation
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential divorce lawyers to hire, you’ll need to carry out a personal investigation about them and eventually carry out an initial consultation. Look them up online and find out as much as you can before putting a call across to them. When you eventually call the lawyer, try to observe their approach towards you. Do they listen? Are they in a hurry to offer you solutions or do they take their time to hear you out? If you’re satisfied with how the initial consultation went, you may go ahead and book a date for the interview or face to face discussions.
3. Prepare yourself for the interview
You should ideally prepare all relevant information pertaining to your divorce proceedings before meeting with any potential lawyer. Details regarding your personal assets, possible custody arrangements, and any other information you consider important should be readily available during the consultation. This information will enable the divorce lawyer to make informed decisions when providing you with advice. You do not necessarily need to provide copies of documents at this stage unless you decide to retain the lawyer.
4. Be Open
Hiding any critical information regarding your divorce may hinder the lawyer’s ability to critically assess your situation and offer the appropriate advice. At this point, be honest and open during the consultation. Share all the key details surrounding the divorce even if you do not feel they are relevant. You may have to reveal intimate and personal details regarding your relationship with your spouse but do not worry as this is perfectly normal and appropriate.
Informing the lawyer about any information that could potentially harm your divorce case in court puts them in a better position to advise and represent you. It’s worth noting that whatever discussions you have with the Lawyer even during consultation are confidential so ensure you provide complete and accurate information.
5. Consider the Fees
During the consultation, find out what fees you will be expected to pay for their service. Is there a fixed price or hourly price for representation? Is there a minimum charge if they bill you hourly? These are some of the questions you should ask regarding what you’ll be expected to pay. You should also find out about a breakdown of what exactly you’ll be charged for to avoid any surprises.
6. Avoid the sweet talk
If the lawyer is promising you the world and telling you everything you’d like to hear, be cautious. No lawyer can really promise you 100% success in a divorce case as there are too many variables involved including how a judge will decide, the duration of the case proceedings and subsequently the costs involved.
7. Ask more Questions
Asking the right questions and getting the appropriate answers will help you decide whether or not to hire a certain lawyer, so don’t hesitate to ask anything you believe may be relevant to your divorce or working relationship with them. The following are some of the key questions you should ideally ask when interviewing your potential divorce lawyer.
General Experience and Specialization
- How many divorce cases have you handled?
- Do you specialize in family law or divorce?
- What’s your strategy for my case and will I have any input?
- How many cases like mine have you previously handled?
- Why should I hire you?
- Can you predict the likely outcome of my case?
- Do you know my spouse or their attorney?
- Do you have any experience with custody settlement?
- What are the fees you typically charge?
- How much do you think this will cost based on your experience?
- Can I get a typical breakdown of your charges?
- What are you and your associate’s hourly billing rates?
- Can fees be billed to my spouse?
- Will you bill me for telephone calls?
- What’s the most challenging aspect of this case?
- Who will be assisting you on this case, can I meet them?
- Do you have any other cases currently eating up your time?
- Who will be in charge of my case?
- How often will I be briefed on proceedings?
Once you’ve decided on which lawyer to hire to represent you, they should ideally send you a written agreement that spells out the terms of the retainer and the fees involved. Choosing the right lawyer is no guarantee on the outcome of your divorce case but it certainly gives you a better footing in the proceedings. The tips and suggested questions above should help you prepare and put you on the right path towards hiring the right divorce lawyer for your case.