Questions to Ask Divorce Lawyers in NJ Before Hiring

Any divorce is a stressful episode, but if matters are particularly complicated and attorneys need to be involved beyond the basic legal process, it can quickly become an ordeal. A good divorce lawyer will help ensure you get a satisfactory outcome while shielding you from much of the strain. Here are some questions you should be asking divorce lawyers in NJ before hiring them, to ensure proceedings go as smoothly and successfully as possible.

What's the Practice's Divorce Experience?

Many law firms describe themselves as family law specialists, and these should be a starting point for finding a good NJ divorce lawyer. However, there are many sub-specialisms of family law, from custody to alimony, and the attorney you need will depend on the particulars of your situation. Before hiring, arrange a free consultation where you can discuss your situation, and find out if your lawyer has the relevant experience.

What's the Plan?

After the initial interview, you should be provided with an outline of how the attorney plans to proceed, and of what will be required from you going forward. You should also be given a range of likely outcomes to the case, including the best- and worst-case scenarios you can expect, as well as an estimate of how long proceedings may take. While there are too many variables at play in any case to give a guarantee of a favorable outcome, a good attorney should be able to advance an honest and realistic assessment without undue salesmanship.

Who Else Will Work on the Case?

A divorce case will naturally include many personal details, and you'll need to have trust in the lawyers and paralegals working on your behalf. You may wish to meet any other practice members involved in your case, or at least to be assured of their experience, discretion, and suitability.

What are the Billing Arrangements?

Will you be billed by the hour, and if so, at what rate? What other costs may be involved, such as private investigators or forensic accountants? Will a retainer be necessary? Is there an estimate of the total cost, and are there any options to spread payment? Try to get every aspect of the billing arrangements laid out in writing so that you know exactly what you're getting into.

You'll probably find that your lawyer is unwilling to put a precise figure on the total cost. This is actually a good sign, as it means they will be working your case on its merits, and not following a set blueprint. However, you should be clear in advance about the range of costs involved.

How Will Costs be Kept Down?

A divorce lawyer in NJ should be happy to cut costs where possible, albeit not to the detriment of the case. Ask if there's anything that you can do as the client rather than relying on practice staff, or if any predicted extra expenses are likely to be truly worth the cost. Also, ask if an out-of-court settlement may be realistic to avoid the expense and stress of lengthy proceedings.

What are the Contact Procedures?

There are two parties to every divorce, and levels of enmity can vary greatly. It's a good idea to set out in advance whether you should have any contact with your spouse during the proceedings, and under what circumstances. You may wish to have your attorney assume all communication responsibilities, particularly when the other party's own lawyers are involved. Ask how you can redirect any communication attempts to your attorney, and how quickly a response can be expected. Also set in place expectations for how often you'll receive updates on the case's progress, and what you can do to contact the practice in an emergency.

It's unrealistic to expect any divorce to proceed completely painlessly. However, having a good attorney on your side can reduce the stress while maximizing the chances of an equitable outcome. Asking these questions of your NJ divorce lawyer before committing to them will stand you in good stead for coming out the other side in the best shape you could hope for. If you have any questions about divorce or family law call the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen for a free consultation at (201) 845-7400.

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