Five Key Questions to Ask a Divorce Lawyer at an Initial Consultation
If you are like most people in the United States, the most significant legal matter you may face during the course of your lifetime is a divorce. Consequently, retaining a divorce lawyer has the potential for being one of the most important decisions you will make during your life. There are five primary or key questions that you need to consider posing to a divorce attorney during a free initial consultation:
- How long have you practiced divorce law?
- Are there specific types of divorce cases that you have greater experience in?
- Have you represented clients that face some of the specific (or unique) issues that exist in my case?
- Who will be my primary contact in your office?
- Can you explain your fee and billing structure?
While this may sound like a rudimentary inquiry, ascertaining how long an attorney has practiced divorce law is important. If you face the prospect of a more complicated divorce, including a high-asset case, you may be better served by retaining the services of more seasoned legal counsel. If your case appears to be relatively straightforward (at least at the outset), retaining a lawyer who is a bit newer to the profession may be an acceptable course to take.Are There Specific Types of Divorce Cases That You Have Greater Experience in?
A high-asset divorce was mentioned a moment ago. This is a marriage dissolution case in which the parties have considerable assets. Property division in these types of cases can prove to be something of a herculean task.
Cases involving children present their own spectrum of potentially complicated, challenging issues. The bottom line is that there can exist pretty significant differences between one divorce and another.
With this in mind, when undertaking an initial review of a potential lawyer, you want to question that professional about their experience with different types of divorce cases. You don't want to engage a lawyer who has had a sharp focus on cases involving complicated custody issues when you have no children and are heading into a high-asset divorce.Have You Represented Clients That Face Some of the Specific (or Unique) Issues That Exist in My Case?
Beyond more generalized areas of practice, you will also want to question an attorney you are considering hiring about cases similar to your own. Oftentimes, a person seeking a divorce is well-served retaining legal counsel that has hands-on experience with cases that featured specific fact patterns and distinctive legal issues of the nature you appear to have in your own case.Who Will be My Primary Contact in Your Office?
All law offices are structured a bit differently. This includes the manner in which a law practice primarily communicates with a client.
In some legal practices, the attorney is and will remain the primary source of contact with a client. In other offices, an attorney may engage the services of a paralegal or legal assistant. A paralegal or legal assistant may be the primary source of contact for many issues, while the lawyer remains the main connection with the firm for more significant matters.
During the initial consultation you will want to flesh out the communication connection you will have with the firm if you retain an attorney from that office. You need to be certain that you fully understand the system and that you are comfortable with it.Can You Explain Your Fees and Billing Structure?
When attorneys and clients end up in some sort of loggerhead, that oftentimes is the result of a dispute surrounding fees or billing. The best way to lessen the prospects of some sort of issue or dispute surrounding fees and billing is to have a thorough discussion regarding these issues before an attorney is even retained.
Typically, a divorce attorney will charge an initial retainer when counsel agrees to take a case. Initial time spent on the case will be billed or charged against the retainer. Once the retainer is depleted, a divorce lawyer will then continue to charge by the hour and bill a client periodically.
An initial consultation is nearly always the first step in retaining legal counsel. If you have any questions concerning divorce, contact the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen at 201-845-700 for a free initial consultation.