Questions to Ask a Divorce Lawyer
You will need to prepare a list of questions to ask a divorce lawyer before you meet for an initial consultation. Otherwise you will leave the interview unsure if they are a good divorce lawyer, or better or worse than other lawyers.
The following list of questions to ask a divorce lawyer will determine if they are a good divorce lawyer, a good lawyer for your case, and of course a lawyer you can afford.
Lawyers often charge initial consultation fees so you will want to gather as much information as possible. Ask the same set of questions at each interview – it will be easier to compare divorce lawyers – and don’t trust your memory. Write the answers down.
For more advice on the often daunting task of meeting with divorce lawyers, including when and how to ask these questions, see Interviewing Divorce Lawyers.
Questions about the lawyer’s Experience and Expertise
- What percentage of your cases are Family Law and Divorce cases?
- Do you have any special training or certification in Family Law and Divorce that distinguishes you as a “divorce specialist”?
- For how many years have you been handling divorce and family law cases?
- For how many years have you been practicing in this state/county?
- Do you have courtroom experience?
- How many of your cases went to trial last year?
- Do you personally have any additional expertise/experience that may be useful in my case? (e.g. financial expertise, extensive child custody and support experience?)
- What additional expertise is available in your law firm if needed? (e.g. accountants.)
- Do you have experts outside of your firm that you regularly work with? (e.g. accountants, psychologists, counselors.)
Questions about the lawyer’s Philosophy/Management Style
- What is your usual or preferred strategy or “philosophy” for handling a divorce case?
- Do you recommend mediation to your clients?
- In what circumstances?
- Are you a trained mediator/trained in collaborative law?
- Overall, what percentage of your divorce cases go to trial?
- In what circumstances?
- Do you encourage or discourage direct contact between spouses?
Questions to ask about Case Management and Contact
- Do you have time for my divorce case, or a heavy caseload at this time?
- How long do you think my divorce will take?
- Besides yourself, what other people in your firm would work on my case? (e.g. paralegals, associate lawyers)
- Will you be the person responsible for negotiating my divorce case?
- Who will I meet and talk with most often during my divorce? You or your assistant(s)?
- Will I be able to contact you directly?
- How will I be able to contact you – by email/phone/fax?
- Do you have a policy regarding how soon client calls are returned?
- Will I receive copies of all legal documents and correspondence?
- Does your law firm have malpractice insurance?
Questions to ask about Fees and Expenses
- Is a retainer payable and if so, how much?
- What are your fees per hour?
- How are your hourly fees charged? (e.g. by the exact number of minutes or in blocks of 5, 10 or 15 minutes, etc.)
- Do you charge additional or higher fees if a case goes to trial? (e.g. for days in court.)
- What are the hourly rates for the other people in your law firm who would work on my case? (e.g. paralegals, secretaries, associate lawyer.)
- What other professionals may I need to pay and what are their fees? (e.g. accountants, property appraisers, child psychologists, private investigators.)
- What other services will I need from your firm and how much will they cost? (e.g. new will, property appraisal, deeds, trusts)
- What office expenses will I be charged for? (e.g. faxes, photocopying, etc.)
- Are there any other fees/expenses that I need to know about?
- In total, how much do you estimate my divorce will cost? (e.g. a best case scenario/minimum cost, or likely range.)
- Are there any ways in which you believe your firm offers better value to clients?
- Will you provide a written agreement regarding fees and expenses?
- Ask the divorce lawyer if there is anything else you should know or that they would like to add, and thank them for their responses.
- Ask if you can meet others in the firm who would work on your case, now or later.
- Ask if you can call if you have any further questions for the divorce lawyer.
Copyright 2007 Caroline Mackenzie
Men’s Divorce Tactics
Fight the bias.
Ensure you get a fair and favorable settlement.