Questions to ask a divorce lawyer (before hiring them)

45 questions you need to ask a divorce lawyer before hiring them. Make sure you ask the right questions before signing on the dotted line…

Divorce is not an easy thing to go through, it affects you both emotionally and financially, it also affects your children and your family and can have an impact on your friends and work. So it’s a good idea to hire an experienced divorce lawyer.

Now the biggest dilemma here is how to approach a divorce lawyer and what you need to ask them to be sure that they are the right lawyer for your case? When meeting a divorce lawyer for first consultation it is wise to gather as much information as possible. The divorce lawyer may or may not charge you for the consultation — in most cases, they will not charge you for the first consultation.

It’s advisable to prepare some questions before you meet your lawyer. Here is a list of some basic things you need to inquire about:

  • Divorce lawyer fee structure.
  • Divorce procedure and fees in your state / county.
  • Alimony issues in your state.
  • Child custody and visitation issues.
  • Your state law regarding splitting of marital assets.

Now, the 45 questions we must ask our lawyer before hiring him/her are…

Most questions will be regarding communication and fees with your lawyer and around the specifics of your situation and state. It’s best to have a good general understanding of divorce laws before meeting your attorney as you’ll get much more out of your meeting.

  Questions regarding divorce lawyer fee structure:

Note that you may or may not ask all of these questions depending on their answers and your situation. For example, a flat fee for a divorce is only likely if your divorce is straight-forward and amicable.

  1. Do you have a flat fee for a divorce case (and what is it)?
  2. Do you charge on hourly basis?
  3. Do you charge a retainer fee?
  4. What other legal costs will I be needed to pay?
  5. Do I need to pay extra for my copies of relevant court documents?
  6. Can you file a petition in court for my spouse to pay my attorney fee?
  7. Do I need to pay extra for letters, phone calls and other correspondence?
  8. Will I be signing a contract regarding my fee arrangement?
  9. Do I get an itemized bill of all my payments?
  10. Do I need to pay extra for any research work done or visitations made?
  11. Does my fee include the fee of your associates/assistants if any used/helped in my case?
  12. Will there be any other processing fee or court fee or other miscellaneous fee i need to know?

Questions regarding divorce procedure in your state:

Divorce procedures vary state-to-state (and even county-to-county).

  1. What are the procedures of a divorce case followed in this state?
  2. How much experience do you have in handling divorce cases in this state?
  3. How much time does a case like mine takes?
  4. Will I be needed to be present at every hearing?
  5. What is a collaborative divorce and is such procedure available in this state?
  6. In your opinion which approach will be better in my case trail or a settlement?

Questions regarding alimony issues in your state:

Similarly, alimony varies state-to-state. Here are some questions to ask your divorce lawyer:

  1. What is alimony?
  2. What do i need to do to get alimony from my spouse?
  3. What happens if i don’t ask for alimony now, but later i need it?
  4. What happens if my spouse decides to ask alimony from me?
  5. Do men have right to ask for alimony?
  6. For how long do i get to receive alimony?
  7. What happens to alimony if I decide to get remarried?
  8. What happens if my spouse disagrees to pay me alimony?
  9. What do I do if my spouse misses out on alimony payments?
  10. Can an alimony order be changed, if any change in my circumstances arises?

Questions regarding child custody and visitation issues:

It’s important to come away with a basic understanding of child custody rights.

  1. Can I get sole custody of my child?
  2. Can my spouse get sole custody of my child?
  3. What are visitations laws of this state?
  4. Does child preference matters in a custody case?
  5. Which spouse gets a better chance of succeeding in a divorce case?
  6. Do you think joint custody will be a better option for me?
  7. Can a custodian parent move to another state?
  8. What happens if the custodian parent dies during or after the divorce?
  9. Can a grandparent succeed in a custody case against a parent?
  10. What if I only need visitation rights, can I give the sole custody to my spouse?
  11. Can I change my mind later and get custody rights once visitation rights have been ordered?    

Questions regarding splitting of marital assets:

Again, this can vary from state to state so best to gain a general understanding in advance.

  1. What is community property and what isn’t?
  2. How is property divided after divorce?
  3. How are debts divided after divorce?
  4. Who gets to stay in the house we bought together?
  5. What happens to the property purchased with a combination of separate and mixed community funds?
  6. What is equitable distribution law and does this law apply to my case?

Other things to bear in mind…

You must keep in mind, every lawyer has a different approach of doing things, some are good at one thing and some at others, for example, one lawyer can be great at trials and other lawyer can be an amazing negotiator, it all depends on their personal skills in the profession, his/her beliefs, his/her philosophy, ideas and ways of doing his/her work. Similarly, every divorce lawyer is not the same. Different divorce lawyer will have a different approach to handle your case. So make sure you get all the satisfactory answers to all your questions, then you can decide whether you want to hire this lawyer or not.

Don’t be shy to ask around, if you know someone who has been through a divorce and satisfied, ask for their divorce lawyer name. You can always use the internet. Your prospective lawyer’s website will give you enough information about his/her work. Also if you know a lawyer who doesn’t deal in divorces, he/she can give you a good referral for a divorce lawyer.

The other thing to consider is do you even need an attorney?

How to file for divorce without a lawyer

There are two main methods of how you can file for divorce without a lawyer. The first is completely DIY – you get the forms, you complete and submit them entirely yourself. If your divorce is amicable and you are confident this can be a good way of saving some cash. The second is using a cheap divorce service that assist and guide you through the process. Again, this is only suitable for straight-forward divorces but can be a good fit for many people who are in the ‘fortunate’ position of being on good terms with their spouse. In either of these cases you won’t require any questions to ask your divorce lawyer as essentially you’ll be doing it all yourself.

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