Are you considering filing for divorce?
Are you afraid of what your life will look like after going through a divorce?
Choosing the right divorce lawyer is going to be the difference between having a fair, affordable divorce and getting dragged through the wringer and losing all of your money in battles.
This is especially true if your spouse is forking out the cash for an awesome divorce lawyer.
So, let’s dig into how you can avoid getting raked over the coals and talk about what to do to make sure that you vet your divorce attorney properly.
(Not all ‘FREE divorce consultations’ are created equal.)
How To Handle Your Divorce Attorney Consultation
Divorce can be a stressful time. Feelings of guilt, grief, and uncertainty can be overwhelming.
Once you begin to make plans, however, you can begin to focus on what the best plan is and how you can move forward with your life.
Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to get a free divorce attorney consultation.
Most divorce lawyers offer consultation for divorce for free.
You can use this time to get as much information as possible about the process.
It will also give you an idea of what to expect in terms of timelines and divorce agreements.
Here’s a divorce consultation checklist for what to ask divorce attorney at consultation.
1. How Many Divorce Cases Have You Represented?
You won’t want to hire a law firm to handle your divorce case that has little experience with divorce laws.
Find out what percentage of the firm’s caseload is devoted to divorce cases.
(For example, Melissa’s first internship, the lady did real estate closing, wills, LLC formations, and divorces.
She only did 1 divorce every three weeks. So, she would not be the best option.)
Ask how many cases similar to yours your lawyer has litigated in the past.
Can they give you an example of a situation similar to yours?
What was their strategy for winning?
Ask how long your lawyer has been practicing divorce law, and how often they have taken their cases to trial.
You’ll want to know that they are comfortable handling cases in front of a judge.
The right attorney for you will have a strong background in family law, and be able to share their expertise with you.
2. Will Anyone Else Work on My Case?
Find out if you’ll be working with your divorce lawyer exclusively, or if other lawyers or paralegals will be working on the case.
If others will be assisting you, ask if you can meet them.
(Don’t get TOO caught up on having your attorney do EVERYTHING. From a business perspective, we can charge clients less if we let paralegals carry some of the workloads. And they are amazing at their jobs.)
Remember that divorce can be a very stressful time.
You’ll want to feel comfortable with whomever you’re working with.
If you’re going to get charged hourly, find out if you’ll be charged the same fee for working with others that you’ll be charged by your lawyer.
Some divorce lawyers will charge you $300 per hour for their interns and paralegals to do the work for them.
3. What Is Your Rate? How Will I Get Charged?
Divorce attorneys usually charge by the hour, since the number of time a lawyer spends on these cases varies greatly.
The cost of divorce can vary greatly because of this.
Amicable divorces could get settled after a few meetings.
Another couple’s highly contested divorce could take years to resolve.
Couples who file for divorce with children tend to have the most expensive divorces.
Many couples can resolve their disputes before going to trial, while others can’t.
The longer your divorce takes, the more you’ll pay for it.
The national average cost for a divorce is $15,000 per person.
This includes attorney fees, court costs, and hiring outside experts.
You may, for example, need to enlist the help of a real estate appraiser or child custody evaluator.
Lawyers may charge you for the time they spend researching and reviewing documents.
You’ll also get charged for the communications you have with them, including phone calls, emails, and texts.
They can charge you for preparing settlement agreements and any follow-up work they do after the trial.
Before settling on a divorce attorney, get at least three different rate quotes from lawyers in your area.
Make sure that what you’re paying is reasonable for your case and geographic location.
But also don’t just choose the cheap divorce lawyer.
You get what you pay for.
Go for the one that’s going to provide the most value for your dollar.
And especially make sure that you can EASILY get in contact with them at any time.
(I’ve worked with several attorneys in my real estate business who I can NEVER get a hold of and it’s downright frustrating.)
4. Do You Have Any References?
You may be able to get recommendations for divorce lawyers from trusted friends or family members.
If you can’t find anyone personally, however, you can obtain references from your prospective attorneys.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Did the divorce attorney win their case?
- Were they well-versed in divorce laws?
- How long did it take the attorney to settle the case, either in court or out?
You can get a good idea of the attorney’s communication style by talking to former clients.
Find out if the lawyer handled all concerns professionally.
Did they feel that the attorney listened to their concerns and responded appropriately?
You can also read online reviews and find out if what you’re seeing matches up with what you’re hearing about a particular lawyer personally.
Look for comments about professionalism and effectiveness.
You’ll also want to make sure you won’t be incurring any unexpected fees.
Remember that it’s possible for anyone to get a bad review sometimes.
If, however, you’re seeing the same negative comment repeated, it’s important to be wary.
This could be an indication of what you’re experience will be like.
5. What Paperwork Will I Need to Produce?
The right attorney will let you know what your part will be in helping you get the desired results from your divorce case.
Use your initial free divorce consultation to help you start getting prepared for the case itself so you can stay ahead of schedule.
They will fill out all of the divorce paperwork for you, but you have your own paperwork to bring.
The right lawyer can help you start preparing now.
You may need to obtain documents like your bank statements, proof of your current income, and retirement account statements.
Other financial documents include mortgage bills, utility bills, and loan amounts.
You may also need to start gathering legal documents for your trial.
These could include marriage certificates, living wills, or powers of attorney.
If you have children, you’ll also need to produce a plan for how you plan to parent them.
It will clearly state custody arrangments on the weekends and weekdays, as well as holidays.
In some cases, a couple will be able to create a parenting plan on their own.
In others, a mediator may be required.
In still other cases, the case may become so contentious that the court needs to create the parenting plan.
Preparing for Your Divorce Attorney Consultation
Divorce is a stressful time, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
A free divorce attorney consultation allows you to find the right lawyer and start preparing for your case.
You’ll be able to settle important matters and start a new phase in your life.
To get your FREE divorce consultation, just fill out the form below.
There’s no obligation to use us. And if we can’t help you, we can point you in the right direction.
After your divorce and division of assets, you may want to consider redoing your will and estate planning.
Even if you don’t have assets, your spouse is no longer your emergency contact and you might want to appoint a power of attorney in the event of a medical emergency.
You may not want doctors that you don’t know making major life decisions for you in the event of an emergency.