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A divorce is an emotional and trying
life change, but finding the right attorney is an important first step in the
process. A divorce attorney who has experience and expertise fitting your
unique situation may expedite the divorce process, and make the transition from
marriage to single life more manageable.
Asking the right questions during
your first phone conversation or meeting with a prospective lawyer is key in
determining whether you will be able to establish a successful attorney-client
Don’t assume that every attorney you
contact has the experience that is necessary to handle your case. How long an attorney has been in practice,
and more importantly, how many cases they have handled is perhaps the most
obvious first question. Each new case
presents a unique set of obstacles and situations, requires additional research
and adds to an attorney’s knowledge of divorce law. You will want to find an attorney who has
been in practice for some time, and who has handled an extensive number of
Building on this, you may wish to
expand your questioning to include ones that will determine if the attorney has
specialized experience specific to the circumstances of your divorce. Has the attorney handled divorces where a
small family business is a factor? Does he understand the specifics of a
divorce where there are substantial assets? Again, previous experience handling
cases similar to your own will prove beneficial when choosing an attorney to
represent you in your divorce.
In addition to knowledge of the law,
the overall number of cases at attorney has handled will also coincide with his
experience with the key players involved in the family law process. Does he
have knowledge of and good rapport with local family court judges and positive
professional relationships with other attorneys?
are Your Goals?
It is important for you to consider
your own goals prior to speaking to a prospective attorney. While divorce as the end result is the same
in each case, every person has a different idea of what is important during the
process. Individuals may be seeking to end the marriage quickly and easily and
to move on with their separate lives. Others may need to concern themselves
with proper division of assets, or child support and custody in cases where
children are involved. Be sure to have
questions prepared that will provide you with answers as to how the attorney
will address your goals. The attorney may also have insight into whether or not
your goals are attainable, and should offer candid and realistic feedback. Be
wary of over-optimism or promises that you will come away with everything you want
at the end of your divorce.
You may find that you are unsure of what
you need or what you are entitled to in your divorce. In this case, meeting
with an attorney to discuss and formulate goals is perfectly acceptable. As the
case gets underway and your attorney advises you, these goals may even change.
Forget the Small Details
Not all questions have to pertain to
the divorce process. Make a list of
questions that will help you understand if the way a prospective attorney does
business will meet your expectations. For example, you may want to ask what
time of day is best to reach him in his office. Does he prefer email or phone?
How does billing work? You will be
working closely with your chosen attorney, and it is important that you are
comfortable with these aspects of his business practice as well.
The attorney-client relationship is
instrumental in making the divorce experience as successful, painless and
manageable as possible. The first and sometimes most difficult step is picking
up the phone and making the initial call. Your up-front questions to an
attorney who you are considering to represent you will be your best tool for
making a confident and informed choice.