No matter the circumstances, the divorce process is an emotional and difficult task for every couple. Finding a lawyer that is a good fit for your situation and expectations is one way to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible. To find a lawyer that aligns with your objectives, there are several key questions that you can ask. After many years of practicing family law, Doug Simpson has experienced his fair share of divorce proceedings. He recommends asking these 5 questions when considering hiring a new divorce lawyer.
What are the anticipated costs?
Before you sign any documents, it’s important to know what the projected costs of your case will be. Lawyer fees typically range depending on the individual lawyers’ years of experience and expertise, as well as the complexities of your case. Knowing the hourly rate of the lawyer will help you plan your budget and consider the lawyer’s fit with your case. Lawyers expect a portion of their fees upfront, which is referred to as a retainer. Always ask what the expected retainer is, so you know what fees are due and when. Make sure the cost is clearly stated and agreed upon before any agreements are made.
What is your preferred method of settlement?
When it comes to divorce, there are various types of settlements that you can pursue and implement to resolve your case. Every couple is unique, as are the settlement options available to choose from. Whether you prefer mediation or arbitration, the lawyer you choose should support and have experience in that settlement method. Some lawyers specialize in one method over another, so it is important to ask ahead of time what they are most experienced in. Having a divorce lawyer that is well versed in the method of separation you choose is a beneficial resource to have in your court.
How will you communicate about the case?
Lawyer and client relationships require a certain level of communication. Finding a lawyer that matches your style and expectations of communication is important to maintain a positive working relationship. Knowing their working hours and after-hour limitations are the first steps in making sure that you receive the support you expect. Some good questions about communication include; are there charges for after-hours calls? How do you prefer communication - email, phone, or text? What are the best hours to reach you?
What is your career experience?
It is okay to ask a lawyer what type of experience they have. If your case is a particularly complicated one, you may want to hire someone who has worked a similar case in the past. Knowing that a lawyer is prepared to handle your case is comforting when dealing with a high-stress situation such as divorce. Factors that can make a case more complex include money issues, children, and business involvement. A lawyer who has worked on similar cases will likely be more prepared to handle the situation than one who has not.
How Should You Protect Yourself?
If you are considering hiring a lawyer, make sure to ask what steps you need to take to protect yourself in the courtroom. Their answer will provide some insight as to what type of lawyer they are, as well as provide you with insight into your case. Knowing the steps you may be required to consider taking is an important part of initiating the divorce process. This question will help you understand what to expect and how the lawyer will help you throughout the case.
Doug Simpson is a partner at CBM Lawyers where he exclusively practices family law. Doug believes that each client has a unique set of needs and strives to find the best legal solution for each client on a case by case basis. Learn more about Doug here.