When getting married, every couple wishes to live a bountiful life of love and joy, which is often called the “happily ever after”. However, not everyone is lucky enough to get this wish granted. Sometimes things fail to work out at some point in the marriage and one or both partners think it is best to call it quits. Well, it is never an easy process for various reasons.
Getting divorced can be an overly painful and overwhelming experience. As long as you are officially and legally married, it takes a legal process to end things between you and your partner. It gets even more complicated if you have kids with your spouse, you share property, or engage in business dealings together. Furthermore, the divorce process can take quite some time depending on the complexities surrounding your marriage.
Whether your case goes to trial or not, it is crucial to have a good divorce lawyer when filing a divorce or legal separation. The attorney will guide you through the entire journey from start to finish, but you need to ask some questions for clarity on several matters. This piece covers a few things you might need to ask your divorce attorney.
1. Their Experience
Going through a divorce is an emotional process that can sometimes affect our rational thinking. It could easily prompt you to contact the first lawyer you came across online without giving it much thought. The best part is that if you’re keen enough to interview them you can always salvage the situation. During the first consultation, be sure to ask the attorney to share their experience. As the folks over at BTL Family Law put it, experience goes beyond knowledge when it comes to legal separation and divorce matters. Because they know the law, other divorce attorneys, and how judges handle the courtroom, an experienced family law attorney will help maximize your chances of getting a favorable outcome in your case.
You can ask the attorney for details about the cases they have handled in the past and how many they won. It will give you peace of mind knowing you are working with a professional with a good track record. The last thing you want is to be saddled alongside an amateur attorney in a family law case. Also, be sure to check with the bar, their website, and directories to confirm if they are as experienced as they claim to be.
2. Attorney Fees
Anyone who has undergone the divorce legal process knows that it doesn’t come cheap. However, it all depends on how long it takes to get to an agreement. If both parties are willing to reach a consensus amicably, it can be a speedy process. In this case, it would be advisable to opt for the hourly rate. If a lengthy messy divorce is expected, the fixed fee can save you a few bucks.
Sometimes, a lawyer uses another associate to help them. You should ask if the quoted amount is inclusive of the other attorney or if you are supposed to pay separately. The billing conversation should also highlight if expenses like phone calls and letters with the other party are included. In all these situations, you should negotiate with the primary attorney or law firm to get a reasonable amount.
When there are children involved, the approach used in dealing with the case changes. This is because their interest should be put first. In some divorces, parents have used children as bargaining chips, which end up affecting them psychologically. Therefore, ask your lawyer for details about child custody and how they think it should be handled. After examining your situation, the attorney should advise you on the best course of action to maximize your chances of getting a desirable outcome.
Together you can agree if to file for sole or joint custody. Since the lawyer has done this multiple times, he is aware of particular details to be included in the petition. This means seeking a fair settlement without affecting the welfare of your children. Besides, a lawyer can help both parties agree on a plan and avoid dragging the kids to court, which is a win-win situation.
Depending on your situation and general procedures, your lawyer can estimate the duration to be taken. This can range from weeks to months or years. Just because you are getting divorced, it does not mean that other life activities should take a halt. Therefore, you should know how many days you will be physically required. This makes you plan your work schedule or request time off. It can be frustrating to be pulled in and out of your engagements without prior notice.
Also, ask about the mode of communication. Does he use emails or phone calls, and how often? Both of you should work on a timeframe that suits your schedules to avoid inconveniences and delays.
5. Financial Implications
It is wise to know beforehand what you will lose or receive after the divorce. Your lawyer can review your marriage arrangements and shed some light on the money questions. Depending on the nature of your marriage, some may be entitled to alimony or none. While trying to assess this, the attorney should ask about prenuptial agreements, work-life, and years of marriage. Based on these, an approach to get a fair amount is determined. Failure to ask this, you may end up frustrated if the results are not what you expected.
6. Settlement Approach Used
Every lawyer has a method that they find works best for them. Ask him if he prefers a collaborative approach or a trial scenario. This will avoid conflicting opinions later on. Another thing about working with a good lawyer is that they are flexible in dealing with arising situations. If they are dead set on one way, that should raise a red flag. This is because you want a person who looks at reason and not out to prove their prowess. Therefore, understand his attitude and motive to avoid the drama that could have been avoided.
Your attorney should be a person that brings solutions and not further anguish. Therefore, cross-examine him well to avoid regrets later on. While following the above pointers, always ensure that your decision is not solely based on the amount charged.