When you hire a divorce lawyer, there are some key things to consider. You want to make sure that you get the best result in your case, but when all is said and done, whether your divorce hearing goes in your favor is going to depend on a number of factors. You may be inclined to rush into your lawyer choice in order to get it done as quickly as possible, but that is not a good idea. Instead, you should ask certain questions of your prospective divorce attorney, as detailed below.
The best questions to ask a divorce lawyer before hiring
First off, you need to be able to figure out which divorce lawyer you should ask these questions. There are multiple avenues for this, such as legal directories. However, to be honest, word of mouth can be the best way to find the best lawyer. Your friends and family may have had to deal with divorce at some point, and in turn, needed to retain the services of a divorce lawyer. You can ask more direct questions that may not be clarified in an online review, though no one would fault you with cross-referencing these reviews with your friend or family member's perspectives. Once you actually have a divorce lawyer picked out, that's when the questionnaire has to come out.
What is the lawyer's specialty?
First, you need to figure out exactly how your divorce lawyer operates. Your divorce lawyer may have certain specialties under their belt. Having a specialty does not mean that they only do that, but in the grand scheme of things, some are going to be a better fit for you depending on your own circumstances. For example, some divorce cases can be downright amicable, with both parties trying to negotiate an outcome that would leave both parties as happy as humanly possible. This is referred to as a collaborative divorce, and requires a certain skill set.
Speaking of specialties, there is a distinct difference between a lawyer who is allowed to handle divorce cases and a lawyer who can advertise themselves as a divorce lawyer. In the case of the latter, said divorce lawyer has to pass certain criteria in order to advertise themselves as having this specialty. One of the things they must do is demonstrate particular competence and understanding of how divorce law works, among other things. Even if a lawyer doesn't have a specialty, it doesn't mean that they are not competent enough to preside over your case. Yet, if you are going to retain the services of a lawyer, you may as well get a divorce lawyer, right?
What are some potential conflicts of interest?
An attorney has their own life to live, and in turn, likely has their own social circle. As such, there is a risk that people involved in that social circle have a connection to your own, which is especially true for people in a smaller town. That may include your spouse, your spouse's family or friends, or even your spouse's lawyer or employer. Any of these associations may not necessarily make your lawyer unable to diligently defend you in your case, but it is ultimately better for you to find someone unfamiliar with people involved in the case.
Yet, knowing the right person may help out a lot. For example, if your lawyer has knowledge of the local family court judges, they may have knowledge as to how these judges work. As a result, they will know how to navigate different judges in order to get the best result for you.
What is their process, and how they handle things?
Not all lawyers are built the same, and as such, they are not all going to handle your case the same way. For instance, one divorce lawyer may be more inclined to mediate things instead of going to trial, while another may be more inclined to go to trial in order to get a more favorable verdict. You need to make sure that you pick an attorney who lines up with what you want to do. Negotiation skills are important to consider as well, as should things be settled out of court, you want to have a lawyer who can get you the best possible settlement offer. If your divorce lawyer does not have skills in negotiating you a good settlement, then you should avoid that divorce lawyer like the plague.
Who will be involved in my case?
When picking out a lawyer, you want to know who you are going to be working with. Having a good camaraderie with your divorce lawyer is important, and the last thing you want to do is retain the services of a divorce lawyer, only to find out that someone you never even met before is the one handling your case. It is understandable that the attorney might not be able to handle things themselves, but at the same time, you still want to know about this possibility beforehand. If the attorney you speak to is not going to be personally handling it, or if they are going to be working with other lawyers as part of your divorce case. If this is the case, you should ask to have a meeting with the other lawyers to get a better idea of how they operate as well.
How can I get in contact with the lawyer?
Communication is key in your divorce case, and you want to be able to get in contact with your lawyer whenever you need. As mentioned above, attorneys have their own lives, so there may be times when you cannot get ahold of your attorney. However, the attorney should reasonably be reachable. This is a question that may not get a straight or accurate answer, but you can at least use reviews to get an idea of whether they are being honest. If they are not, that is all you need to know about the divorce attorney.
What can I expect to pay?
As always, money is one of the most important things you have to consider in hiring a divorce attorney, such as Fort Collins Divorce & Family Lawyers. You should figure out what their retainer fee is, and how much you can expect to pay them by the hour. Adding onto the last question, you should have an idea of what constitutes an hour of work. For example, does the hourly rate apply when you are talking with paralegals, secretaries, and others. You should figure out whether the other people involved in the case will get payments as well. The last thing you want to worry about are surprise payments, after all.
You should also be aware of how costly your attorney fees may be if the case does go to court. Inevitably, the longer you spend on the case, the more hours your divorce attorney will accumulate. However, there are additional costs that may have to be considered if things get more complicated. For example, what if you have to hire a private investigator in order to glean more information to help you get a satisfactory result?
Another question that you may want to ask is how successful the case may be. However, this is not a question that an attorney will want to answer usually, mainly because they cannot personally guarantee that you will succeed in your court case, and if so, how successful you will be. Honestly, the biggest red flag you can find with a divorce attorney is if they are all too happy to give you an affirmative answer. The worst kinds of attorneys are those who try to promise you the moon if you will hire them. A good lawyer knows their limitations and know that not all cases can be a winner.