Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Top 5 Questions to Ask a Divorce Attorney BEFORE you hire them

Starting the divorce process can be daunting and overwhelming.  The first step should be to retain an attorney to help you through the process.  Here are the top five questions you should ask a divorce attorney BEFORE you hire them.

1. What is your typical approach or strategy to cases similar to mine?  You will want to know if that attorney tends to work towards a settlement or tends to go straight to trial.  While the decision to settle is entirely yours, some attorneys believe settlements are better for their clients than others. 

2.  How often will I hear from you?  This answer will give you a great idea of the relationship that will exist between you and the attorney.  Some attorneys touch base more than others, if only to say that nothing has changed.  Are you the type of person that wants constant communication or do you only want communication when there is a change or update in your proceedings?  Will you get frustrated if your phone call is not returned immediately?  While this seems like a minute detail, communication is the basis for a great attorney-client relationship and you want to make sure both you and the attorney understand the expectations from the beginning.

3.  What is the time frame?  Many times, this answer cannot be given with any amount of certainty.  However, knowing a ball park time frame up front, with the understanding that things do come up with alter that time frame, will give you more patience during the process.  If you think the attorney is going to take too long to accomplish your goals, you may want to speak with some other attorneys (although the answer may not change).

4.  Who will be working on my case?  Many firms have multiple attorneys working on a case and likely a legal assistant or secretary as well.  You will want to know up front who all you will be working with and what their roles will be.  For example, if you have a question, who would be the best person for you to call: the attorney, his/her associate or the secretary?  Having this laid out up front will help you understand the process and make communication easier in the future. 

5.  How much will this cost?  In most divorce cases, an exact cost cannot be given but a range can be provided.  This is because most divorce attorneys perform work at an hourly rate.  At the beginning of a case, it is difficult to ascertain exactly how much time your case will take.  However, you can know what the hourly rates are of each person working on your case and an estimated number of hours.  Some attorneys charge more than others and it may be an important fact for you to consider when determining whether to hire an attorney.  This will also be a good time for you to discuss how much money needs to be provided up front and how you will be charged for additional funds in the future. 

While this list is not inclusive of every question you should ask a divorce attorney, asking these five questions will help you understand everyone's roles in your case and the expectations of you and the attorney.  If you are not satisfied with any of the answers, don't be afraid to express your concerns.  In fact, you should express your concerns.  Your concerns may be legitimate concerns that may prevent you from hiring the attorney or they may be a result of miscommunication and misinterpretation that can be resolved by discussing the issue further. 

If you are going through a divorce or considering a divorce and would like a consultation, please contact us at (804) 447-0146 or clbaudean@baudeanlaw.com.