|< Back to Expert Articles
5 Valuable Questions to Ask when Choosing a Divorce Lawyer
By Nancy Kay, Moving Forward Through Divorce
Published On: 6/2/2012
When it comes to making the best decision about which lawyer to
hire for their divorce, many people rely on getting a referral from a friend of
relative. Although this is a common way to choose a lawyer, it can lead to a
mismatch in expectations between how the client thinks that their case will
proceed and the way that the lawyer usually handles their divorce cases.
In order to be sure to find the lawyer that is the best fit for
you, it is essential to take some extra time in the very beginning and meet
with several lawyers, allowing some time to carefully evaluate them, so that
you can decide which one will be right for your specific case.
As a Divorce Coach, I often hear clients expressing frustrations about
their lawyers and often clients will get so aggravated that they decide to
replace their counsel in the middle of their case, leading to their legal
proceedings taking longer and costing them more as the new attorney requires a
retainer upfront and needs additional time to examine the case history in order
to get up to speed.
When interviewing divorce lawyers, here are 5 Valuable Questions
to ask that can help you to determine which particular lawyer will be the best
match for you.
- Is Family Law
your Specialty Area? If not, what percentage of your cases is
in Family Law?
If you expect that your case may become a battleground over
custody or spousal support issues, it is wise to make sure that the lawyer you
choose has extensive experience with the local courts in handling these types
of emotionally charged contested issues. Since many Family Law Attorneys
spend so much of their time in court, they often have the advantage of having
lengthy established relationships with other divorce attorneys and experts that
you may contend with, as well as a great deal of familiarity with the judges,
court rules and procedures that can impact the results you get in your case.
2. What have your
experiences been like in dealing with the lawyer that my spouse has hired?
When asking this question, pay close attention to the lawyer’s
body language and their first reaction when telling them the name of your
spouse’s lawyer. Since 95% of divorce cases are settled before trial, how
well they have negotiated and communicated with your spouse’s lawyer in
previous cases is very valuable to know before you decide whether to hire them.
3. Does this attorney
favor a Collaborative Divorce Team Approach or Traditional Litigation?
Collaborative Family Attorneys often provide a team of attorneys,
financial experts and Divorce Coaches who work with the spouses to negotiate a
Settlement, while having the spouses both agree not to pursue their case
through the court system. If a settlement is not reached using this Collaborative
approach, the parties must then start over with each hiring their own
litigation attorneys. Advantages to using a Collaborative Team included
faster times of settlement due to not having to schedule court
appearances, and a more creative focus on negotiating sticking points,
rather than filing legal motions or waiting for the judge decide. On the
other hand, spouses who have a significant power imbalance between them or in
situations when one spouse is convinced that the other won’t be cooperative and
transparent about disclosing all requested documents, litigation may be needed
so that the attorneys can subpoena all requested documents during the discovery
4. How accessible is this lawyer? How long is
their usual response time to phone calls or emails? Be sure to ask if
they will respond themselves to emails or phone calls or whether their staff
is in charge of responding to them and how long that usual response time
is. It’s also very important to ask any attorney you are evaluating
if they will allow you access to their cell phone number for times when you
have urgent questions or emergencies. Since divorce cases often take from one
to two years to resolve and involve many stressful issues, accessibility to
your lawyer in times of urgent need is critical!
5. Ask the lawyer to share some examples of how
they negotiated an issue in their other cases that is similar to one of your
most significant issues. Since the vast majority of divorce
cases are resolved through negotiation, paying close attention to each lawyer’s
negotiating style is very valuable when determining which lawyer to hire.
How does their personality affect their negotiating style? How effectively and
timely did they resolve the issue in the example they chose to share with you?
© Nancy Kay All Rights Reserved
Other Articles by this Author: