Let’s talk about what questions to ask a divorce lawyer.
You’re thinking about getting a divorce.
You might even have your free divorce consultation set up.
But you don’t even know what questions to ask a divorce lawyer.
In this article, we are covering all the questions to ask divorce attorneys about:
This is a very comprehensive list of questions to ask a divorce lawyer.
You most likely won’t need to ask ALL these questions.
Pick and chose what questions to ask a divorce lawyer that apply to you.
Let’s get to it.
Divorce can be devastating. It’s heartbreaking when parents lose custody of their children. Spouses end up having to pay agonizing amounts of financial support.
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One of the most important things to remember is this.
You don’t have to hire a divorce lawyer because you have a consultation with them.
Not every divorce lawyer is going to be a good fit for you.
Don’t let a divorce lawyer be pushy in your free consultation.
Pick the one that best suits you and your desired outcomes.
When you file for divorce, your attorney has to juggle many types of law.
They have to have knowledge about:
You need to find a divorce lawyer that specializes in your situation.
For example, you don’t want to hire a divorce lawyer who specializes in uncontested divorce if you and your spouse are going to have a custody battle.
If you are having an uncontested divorce, you don’t want an attorney turning it into a fighting match.
This can cost you tens of thousands in extra divorce costs.
These are 43 questions to ask a divorce lawyer during an initial consultation to make sure they are the best fit.
Some of these are questions to ask a divorce lawyer during initial consultation.
Some of these questions to ask divorce attorneys can wait until after you hire them.
The first questions to ask a divorce lawyer during initial consultation is about how does divorce work.
It’s okay to wonder how does a divorce work.
Your divorce lawyer should take the time to thoroughly answer this for you.
This will give you an idea of what to expect when you are filing for divorce.
When you ask a divorce lawyer how many cases have they handled, don’t expect an exact number.
Your goal here is to make sure that you are not hiring a divorce lawyer who has never done one before.
Think of it like hiring a surgeon.
You don’t want to hire the guy who just graduated med school to do open-heart surgery.
Filing for divorce is stressful and tough enough already.
You don’t want to be having to check their work the entire time.
They are supposed to be the expert.
This question for a divorce lawyer is relevant because you want a specialist.
Many times, law firms do EVERYTHING from:
You get the point.
These divorce lawyers are a jack of all trades.
Meaning, they aren’t really that great at anything.
They are just mediocre at everything.
That’s why these are important questions to ask a divorce lawyer.
You want to make sure that the divorce lawyer you’re hiring focuses on divorce cases only.
This way, you know you’re working with a specialist.
They will know the in and outs of the divorce laws.
Even if this isn’t one of the questions for divorce lawyers that you ask, look it up on their site.
Another one of the questions to ask a divorce lawyer in the first meeting is how to prepare for divorce.
They will give you a list of things to do and collect for the divorce process.
They include, but are not limited to:
When you prepare for a divorce, it makes everything easier.
Your cost of divorce will be lower.
Your divorce process will be faster.
Your divorce will even be easier when you prepare for divorce before you file for divorce.
Your divorce lawyer will give you a list of things that you need to prepare.
These needs will be based on your specific situation.
When you ask your divorce lawyer how long does it take to get divorced, they won’t be able to give you an exact number.
But, they have experience with other, similar divorce cases.
And they can tell you how many months you can expect the divorce to take.
Easy, uncontested divorces will only take a couple of months.
Drawn out, contested divorces will take 12+ months.
Things that REALLY draw out how long does it take to get divorced are children and businesses.
As you can probably tell, this is one of those questions for divorce lawyers that are hard to answer.
At the end of your divorce lawyer consultation, they will have a better idea of how to answer this question.
Wondering does it matter who files for divorce first?
It may not matter, depending on your scenario.
If you have been served divorce papers already, then that answers the question for you.
If you’re going to have an uncontested divorce, it doesn’t matter who files for divorce first.
But if you’re going to have a contested divorce, it does matter.
You want to have time to prepare for divorce.
Sometimes, it’s better to be playing offense rather than defense.
This one of those questions to ask divorce attorney on first visit.
Once they hear more about your situation, they will be able to guide you on when exactly to file for divorce.
But if you have already been served, you may be trying to figure out how to respond to divorce papers.
In this scenario, you are on defense.
It’s in your best interest to ask a divorce lawyer how to respond to divorce papers.
They can review the divorce paperwork for you before you respond.
After this, they can walk you through the implications of what your spouse has done.
Whatever your spouse has filed, you should ask your divorce attorney to review the papers.
They will be able to protect you and tell you how to respond to the divorce papers.
You’re probably not thinking about this RIGHT now.
Your divorce attorney can help you change your name after divorce.
They can help you fill out the forms on your own.
Or they can ask the judge to enter a formal order changing your name after divorce.
Just make sure whether you will have to do this on your own or if it’s included.
This is one of those questions to ask a divorce lawyer that can save you thousands.
You want to know what percentage of divorces they have settled outside of the divorce courts.
Going to trial to battle out details can cost you thousands in attorney and court fees.
You’re also going to make the divorce process last SOO much longer.
And the judge is going to have the final say for how things turn out.
You probably won’t like what the judge comes up with.
A divorce lawyer who can negotiate and settle a divorce is going to make your life easier.
Please, take note, though.
If your spouse or your spouse’s attorney is being difficult, you could end up in trial regardless.
Unfortunately, everyone has to be willing to negotiate for an amicable divorce.
Whether you have an uncontested divorce or contested makes a HUGE difference.
An uncontested divorce means that you and your spouse 100% agree on all aspects of the divorce.
This means you agree on how to split or handle:
If you’re unsure about whether you have a contested or uncontested divorce, ask your divorce lawyer.
If there are small things that you can figure out on your own with your spouse, you should.
Your attorney will be able to point out what things you need to negotiate with your spouse on.
Figuring these things out on your own with your spouse (without an attorney) can save you thousands.
The average uncontested divorce cost about $5,000.
While the average contested divorce costs about $17,000.
Ask your divorce attorney what you can try to handle on your own to save money.
Related: Grounds for Full Custody of Child
No matter how things ended between you and your spouse, a collaborative divorce is a good idea.
It’s like settling outside out the courts.
These are questions to ask divorce lawyers to figure out if they have a “let’s fight” mentality.
Granted there are some scenarios where you need an attorney who is prepared to fight.
But for the majority of divorces, things can be worked out between both parties.
It’s one of those good questions for divorce attorneys to see if they fit your goals.
Related: Irreconcilable Differences
After the last couple of questions, you now know whether your attorney supports an amicable divorce.
Sometimes couples need to go through mediation to help them figure out how to settle the divorce.
When you are facing a contested divorce, the best thing to do is to go through divorce mediation.
Divorce mediations help couples reach an agreement on their disputes without going to trial.
When you go through divorce mediation, you have the final say.
When you go to trial, the judge has the final say on how to settle.
If you need divorce mediation, ask your divorce lawyer for a divorce mediation checklist.
If they don’t have a printout to hand you, no big deal.
They can still help you prepare for divorce mediation.
Related: Dissolution vs Divorce
These are questions to ask a divorce lawyer BEFORE the consultation.
They will be able to tell you everything that you need to bring to the consultation.
The more prepared you are, the easier it will be for them to give you an idea of what to expect during the divorce process.
For the consultation, they won’t need a ton of information.
But if you decide to hire them, they will need quite a bit of information from you.
If your divorce lawyer knows your spouse, there could be a conflict of interest.
Depending on their relationship, the divorce lawyer that you are questioning may not want to fight your spouse.
If they just know OF your spouse, it’s probably not a big deal.
If they are old colleagues, you may want to reconsider.
Related: How to Leave Your Husband
The relationship that the attorney has with the judge isn’t terribly important.
When you ask this question, you’re trying to figure out how well they understand the judge.
Your divorce lawyer should be able to come up with a strategy based on how the local judge operates.
If they are lenient with custody, you want to tailor your case to that.
If they are hardcore about giving 50/50 splits, you want to tailor your case to that.
Related: Reasons a Judge Will Change Custody
This is one of those questions to ask a divorce lawyer during initial consultation to make sure you are on the same page.
If you’re ready to fight tooth and nail for your kids, you don’t want a divorce attorney who is going to pressure you to settle.
And vice versa.
If you just want to settle and be done with the divorce, you don’t want an attorney who is taking you to trial to battle.
Make sure that you and your attorney see eye-to-eye on how to approach the divorce process.
It’s your job to tell them how you’d like to approach the divorce process.
It’s their job to guide you along that process for the best possible outcome.
There are several financial aspects related to divorce.
Your divorce lawyer should have experience negotiating for these things.
Finances that potentially need to be negotiated are:
Most of these are pretty common in divorce.
But some divorce lawyers only do uncontested divorce.
Or they avoid divorces with businesses.
This is a questions to ask a divorce lawyer before hiring to make sure they can handle your situation.
Your divorce lawyer can’t give you an EXACT quote on how much is alimony going to be for you.
But they can run some numbers and give you a rough estimation of how much the spousal support will be.
They will need all your financial documents and information to be able to provide you with this estimation.
Note that these are just best guesses on how much is alimony for you.
The judge will consider MANY factors for determining how much is alimony, like:
This is not an all-inclusive list of how they determine how much spousal support is.
But it gives you an idea.
Your divorce lawyer will be able to give you a calculated guess on this.
How long does alimony last depends on your marriage.
Your lawyer for divorce will be able to give you a rough estimation of how long alimony will last for you.
While this may be one of the questions to ask a divorce lawyer during the consultation, they will have to run the numbers and send you the answers later.
While these are good questions to ask a divorce lawyer, it will be difficult for them to answer in the consultation.
They need to know what the custody arrangement will be, including:
If you have an idea of what the potential child custody situation will look like, they can provide you with estimations.
You can easily find the answer to “What does child support cover” online.
After you have read the lists of what child support covers, it’s a good idea to run your list by your divorce lawyer.
They will be able to confirm or deny items on your list for you.
As an overview, child support covers:
Add this to your arsenal of questions for divorce lawyers if you have kids.
Whether you are paying or receiving child support, you want to make sure the money is used correctly.
You may be paying an alarming amount in child support.
This means you may want to know how often can child support be modified.
Normally, child support can be modified every two years.
The real questions to ask a divorce lawyer is how should you prepare for a child support modification.
You can also ask them to go ahead and file it at the two-year mark for you.
Related: Getting Custody Back From Grandparentsa
When you go into a child support hearing, you want to be prepared.
Good questions to ask a divorce attorney are what questions are asked during a child support hearing.
They will be able to provide you with a list of the usual questions.
An overview of the questions asked are about:
Your divorce lawyer will also be able to help you answer all these questions.
Related: Emergency Custody Orders
Winning child custody mediation doesn’t normally mean you’re walking away with full custody.
A successful mediation means that the custody arrangement is fair for both parents and the child.
Your attorney for divorce will help you figure out what to negotiate for.
What are you willing to give up?
What are your top 3 outcomes you REALLY want?
What outcomes does your spouse REALLY want?
They will guide you on how to negotiate so that you can win child custody mediation.
If you are going through a custody battle, the next questions to ask divorce lawyers is very important.
When you’re fighting for your children, you need to know what not to do during a custody battle.
Your divorce lawyer will be able to give you some guidelines to follow.
If you do the wrong things during a custody battle, it could jeopardize your chances of winning.
These are very important questions to ask a divorce lawyer if you are fighting for custody.
Related: Grandparents Rights In Georgia
The judge will make custody decisions based on the best interests of the child.
If you are divorcing your spouse, you’re probably making some changes to your life.
With these questions to ask a divorce lawyer, you want to figure out what to do during the divorce to get the most custody.
This could mean:
Your lawyer can also tell you what information you need to prove that you can provide:
Most of these things are subjective to the judge.
But your divorce lawyer will be able to tell you how to prepare based on their experience.
Related: Divorce as a Stay at Home Mom
You won’t always be working with the divorce lawyer that you have a consultation with.
Sometimes law firms assign a case to a small team of lawyers.
Other times, the caseload of the attorney you met with is full when you decide to pull the trigger.
Asking this question gives you a better understanding of who is working on your case.
This way, you’re not surprised when you show up to court and there’s a new attorney you’ve never met before.
Related: Divorcing A Husband Who Won’t Work
There are going to be other people who work on your case.
These are administrative people, paralegals, and other attorneys.
You can ask the divorce lawyer to give you a quick introduction.
But if they are not available, it’s not a big deal.
They might be doing work on other cases or meeting with clients.
This is because, during your consultation, your lawyer is the only one scheduled to meet with you.
Related: My Husband Wants A Divorce
Knowing how to contact your attorney’s team is very important.
When you have important issues or questions to ask your divorce attorneys, you need to be able to get in touch.
You don’t want a lawyer who is just going to talk to you when they need you.
A lot of firms will let an admin handle communications with the clients that are not scheduled.
There is nothing wrong with this.
The administrative personnel are fully capable to handle questions about your case.
Plus, it’s cheaper on you when the lawyer isn’t the one answering every call since they charge you by the hour.
But you will want to know whether phone calls or emails are the easiest way to get in touch with your lawyer’s team.
Related: Common Reasons For Divorce
This is a tricky questions to ask a divorce lawyer.
They could be juggling dozens of cases at one time. It really depends on:
One divorce lawyer may have an admin and a paralegal to help them.
While another divorce attorney is answering phones, looking up laws, and going to court all by themselves.
The lawyer with a team can juggle a lot more cases than the solopreneur.
Another factor is how long each of their divorces is taking.
Some divorces are over in 2 months while heavily contested ones can last a couple of years.
The work that they do on each case gets spread out over that timeframe.
Meaning, they may work on a divorce one month, but not need to do anything else the next.
It really depends on how things are progressing for each divorce.
Related: Legal Separation In Georgia
You are going to need a copy of your divorce papers.
Ask your divorce lawyer to provide you with a copy of the papers after they file them for you.
The courts will give them a copy of the divorce papers stamped with “Copy.”
You can keep these for your records.
Related: My Wife Wants A Divorce
Most of the time, your divorce lawyer will serve the papers to your spouse for you.
They will hire a third-party service to serve your spouse.
They will also file the receipt of service to your family courts.
Ask your divorce lawyer if this is something that they are going to handle for you.
If not, they should tell you how to serve divorce papers to your spouse.
Some people try to save some money and serve papers on their own.
It’s up to you to decide if this is one you want to include in your questions to ask a divorce lawyer during initial consultation.
Related: Getting a Divorce While Pregnant
Once you have finalized the divorce, it’s time to get your divorce decree.
Your divorce decree can be obtained from the Clerk of Superior Court.
Your divorce lawyer should be sending you a copy of your divorce decree.
Ask your divorce attorney whether they will be sending you yours.
If not, you need to ask them to or be prepared to go get it yourself.
Related: Is Alimony Tax Deductible?
If you’ve ever worked with lawyers, you know that business and communication are not their strengths.
This is one of the important questions to ask your divorce lawyer.
You need to know about developments in your case.
This includes things like:
This list is not all-inclusive, but you get the gist.
You want to make sure that your lawyer is keeping you up to date on your case.
Ask them how they communicate progress with their clients.
Some lawyers think they know best.
Some do, actually.
But some don’t.
A lot of times, what the lawyer perceives as the best outcome is not what you actually want.
It’s important that your lawyer is going to sit down and listen to what you want.
Once they know what your goals are, ONLY then should they be attacking a strategy.
Let’s say you want to give up your equity in the house to keep your 401k and get 60% custody instead of 50% custody.
You don’t want your attorney fighting for a 50/50 split of everything in this case.
They should know that keeping your retirement accounts intake and having more custody is most important to you.
This is another one of those questions to ask divorce lawyers to make sure you’re on the same page.
Have you seen a theme yet?
Your divorce lawyer has seen it all when it comes to child custody battles.
The financial outcomes.
The emotional outcomes.
How kids react.
How parents react.
They have an idea of how joint custody vs sole custody works out.
It’s hard for someone to fully comprehend what a custody case will turn out like.
That’s why this is an important question to ask divorce attorneys.
You’ll want to know how your goals for custody will affect the family.
And you don’t have to listen to your divorce lawyer.
But it’s a good questions to ask a lawyer about divorce to gain more insight to your potential outcomes.
More specifically, “How much will my divorce cost?”
Some attorneys will be hesitant to answer this.
They don’t have all the information that they need to make an educated decision.
Things that affect the cost of divorce include how hard each spouse will fight for:
If it’s just a run of the mill, easy uncontested divorce, you’re looking at roughly $5,000 on average.
If it’s a highly contested divorce with many court appearances, you could be paying $20,000+.
They will be able to give you an IDEA of what to expect.
But you should not take the cost of divorce that they give you to heart.
It could be a lot more expensive. Or it could be a much cheaper divorce.
If you ask your attorney “how can I make the divorce cost less” and they get all wishy-washy, dump them.
Your divorce lawyer is there to serve you.
They should be working in the best interests of their clients.
There is ONLY one reason they should not be allowing you to do things on your own to make your divorce cheaper.
That’s if what you’re doing messes up, or gets in the way of, the divorce process.
Otherwise, your divorce lawyer should be able to give you a list of things that can create a more affordable divorce.
These may be things like you and your spouse coming up with an agreeable:
Each divorce case is different.
Your divorce lawyer will be able to look at your situation and give you advice on where you can save costs.
This question for a divorce lawyer is pretty simple.
And most likely, you won’t even have to ask.
Most lawyers will tell you their retainer fee upfront.
They want to make sure that you can afford their services.
If you’re unable to afford their retainer fee, ask them about whether they offer payment plans.
This is definitely an important question to ask a divorce lawyer.
You want your attorney to have a team supporting them.
It actually makes your divorce cheaper.
If your divorce lawyer charges $300 per hour, you don’t want them filling out papers and filing them.
You want their administrative people who are charging $50 per hour to do this work.
Ask your divorce lawyer how much each team member costs per hour to work on your case.
Some lawyers will charge you more per hour to show up to divorce court.
Others just bill you hourly and will clock their time on the case accordingly.
You want to make sure that their “in court” hourly rate is not more than the normal hourly rates.
You don’t want an attorney charging you for random things.
Ask your divorce lawyer if they will provide you with an itemized bill.
This way, you can see the break down of how they charged hours to your case.
They will show you:
If they will not show you an itemized bill, reconsider using them.
Related: Common Law Marriage in Georgia
A retainer fee usually covers half of the estimated total cost of divorce.
Meaning, if your divorce lawyer thinks it will cost $10,000 to handle your divorce, the retainer fee might be $5,000.
This is not a hard and fast rule, but just an example.
The point is that your retainer fee is going to run out.
You don’t want to get blindsided by a phone call from your lawyer telling you that you owe another $5,000 next week.
Ask your divorce lawyer how they will inform you of:
Now that you know what to ask a divorce lawyer, what’s the next step?
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