We Know: What to Ask a Divorce Attorney

If you're thinking of hiring a divorce lawyer, here are some basic questions you should think about and then ask before making a decision about who should represent you.


What would your strategy be for a case like mine?
If your case is going to involve a custody battle or property division, for example, it helps to know if the attorney has any experience with similar cases, and what the outcomes were for those.

How much will it cost?
Be sure to ask exactly how much the attorney will charge for each aspect of the case. The attorney fees, phone calls, and paralegal fees can add up quickly. Don't be shy about asking if there are ways to cut costs. Attorneys try to make as much money as possible, but most are willing to work with you in this regard.
Ask the attorney to bill you as the case proceeds, so that you can monitor the bills and be sure you agree with the charges. Some lawyers will charge you for a half an hour or more, even if you only speak to them for five minutes on the phone. If you think this is objectionable, then you can challenge the billing procedure early in the process.

How long will it take?
This can also greatly affect the legal fees, so be sure you find out exactly how long your lawyer expects the case to take. If property or custody issues are pending, it's good to have a basic timeframe to work with concerning such matters. Also be sure to ask your attorney if he/she has sufficient time to devote to your case. If the attorney is overloaded with work, your case might not get the attention it needs.

What is your view on settlement versus litigation?
If you have a lot at stake, as many do in a divorce, tell the attorney you want to weigh the pros and cons of settling to avoid the expense of going to court. It's important to know where your attorney stands on this issue in order to avoid any issues later on.

How do you think a judge would rule in this case?
It's a good idea to ask the attorney his/her opinion as to how the case might ultimately turn out. This can help give you and your attorney a better idea of how to proceed, and whether a settlement deal might be a better option. Ask about the options available, and how your attorney would proceed with each one.

How do you feel about mediation?
Ask about what mediation is and get the advantages and disadvantages. Many attorneys specialize in this process and it can work well in many cases. See what the lawyers you are interviewing think about mediation. Ask for the name of lawyers who do mediation and call and talk to them, too. This process could save you time, money and stress.

How much does the average divorce cost versus a mediation?
According to Peace Talks Mediation Services, a low conflict divorce can cost the a combined total of about $20,000 for the two parties. A mediation of similar issues can cost about $5,100. The savings often become more dramatic in difficult, contested cases.

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