If you have decided to divorce or separate from your partner, you will need to find a family lawyer who you confidently trust to fight for your rights.
When working with a law firm that offers an initial consultation, make the most of it by getting answers to these 12 important questions.
1. Do you specialize in divorce?
Specialization in family law is key. There are many different kinds of lawyers, some of whom would be less capable of handling your unique situation. For the same reason why you wouldn’t want a dentist to perform your surgery, it’s a good idea to make sure your lawyer is an expert at family law.
2. How long have you been practicing divorce law?
Experience counts for a lot in family law. A lawyer who has put many years into resolving conflicts will be able to propose more creative and specialized solutions than one who is a newcomer.
3. How will your team work together on my case?
Many law firms will have a team with a diverse set of talents that can be put into action to get your better results. When your lawyer can answer confidently about how they can leverage the unique skill sets of their firm, you know that you are in good hands.
4. How will you achieve my goals?
After the initial discussion about your case, your lawyer should have an idea of how to proceed. They will be able to outline a list of steps to take and the purpose behind them. It won’t be possible to get the nitty-gritty details in order through only one meeting, but knowing that your family lawyer has a plan of action will provide reassurance.
5. How long do you expect this process to take?
While the answer to this will certainly depend on many different variables specific to your situation, it’s good to get your lawyer’s professional opinion. After hearing of the details, your lawyer will have an idea of if you are likely to find a quick resolution, or if there may be complications that will extend the duration of the case.
6. How much do you anticipate my case will cost? What will I be charged for?
While this is another question that varies heavily from case to case, you will want to get an understanding of how you will be charged, and what services you will be charged for. Having total clarity on how your lawyer is working on your behalf will remove any potential disputes about billing.
7. What is the easiest way to resolve this divorce?
Every situation is unique and some divorces are more difficult to resolve than others. If you and your partner are willing to work together, there may be a simple and collaborative solution. If not, your case may require more drastic steps. Either way, your lawyer will be able to give you insight into the legal process that can smooth out misunderstandings and misperceptions.
8. What steps should I be taking right now to protect myself?
You should leave your initial consultation with some action plans. It may be simply to collect information, or it may be something more severe. By offering suggestions for how you can take early action to protect your interests, your lawyer can save you lots of time, money and headache in the long run.
9. What style of mediation do you prefer?
Asking this question gives you an impression of how your lawyer likes to work. You can also get an idea of if they have the experience to properly represent your case. A lawyer who excels in courtroom battles may not be the right option if you are looking for a collaborative solution to your separation.
10. What is worth fighting for and what is worth letting go?
While it may take some time for your lawyer to become intimately familiar with your situation, they have the advantage of having a third-party perspective. While your emotional ties to the case may easily cloud your judgment, a lawyer will be able to see the entirety of the situation and make recommendations accordingly.
11. With the facts you have right now, how do you predict a judge would rule on my case?
Again, this question takes advantage of your lawyer’s role as a third-party and sets expectations for the time to come. Using their legal expertise and past experiences, your lawyer may be able to give you an impression of what you could expect in court. This prediction doesn’t come with guarantees, but may be a vital step in determining how to proceed with your case.
12. If I have questions, how should I contact you?
Establishing the best way to contact your lawyer and setting realistic expectations for a response time is critical. You will also want to know if there is an assistant who you could get in touch with if your lawyer is busy responding to the needs of other clients.
Getting answers to these questions gives you a good foundation for proceeding with your case. Your legal representative is there as a guide and a helper, enabling you to protect yourself and your interests to the full extent of the legal system. Making the most of your time with your lawyer pays dividends in the end.