What to Ask Your Divorce Lawyer During the First Consultation
Going through any family law matter can be a stressful and confusing situation. Unless someone has been through the situation before, that person may not know where to start or even what questions to ask during that first meeting with a family lawyer.
Below are a few tips to help guide someone going through this situation and hopefully help him or her know what to ask an attorney before filing for divorce.
1. What Is the Process?
It helps to first understand what to expect. Ask questions about what the process is in the State of Arizona to get a divorce.
It can vary depending on whether children are involved in the marriage and just how complicated the marital assets and debts are, but the attorney should be able to give the potential client a general understanding of what the process is like from start to finish.
The attorney should also be able to give the client an idea of how long the process will take and explain different outcomes that can occur, including settling in mediation or going to a final hearing before the judge.
2. Does Your Attorney Concentrate His or Her Practice in Family Law?
Many attorneys are general practitioners and handle a variety of legal subjects, but it can help if the lawyer has experience in the area of family law.
It also helps to ask the attorney how many family law cases they handle, as well as whether they have handled similar cases to the client’s case.
3. How Much Will This Cost?
This question is a tricky one to answer, and many attorneys are hesitant to give a firm response when asked. The attorney will be able to tell you the retainer and possibly the worst-case scenario when it comes to how much a family law case costs, but he or she will likely never tell you for certain how much it will be when all is said and done. The attorney will be able to explain how much his or her hourly rate is, how much the rate is for support staff and any filing fees or court costs that will be expected.
How expensive a family law case can be depends heavily on how well the parties are able to work together, whether the case is able to settle, and whether the case goes to court. Obviously, if the case goes to court, that means the costs will be more since preparing for trial can be costly.
Ask the attorney how often he or she bills and how charges are made. Also ask whether the attorney takes payment plans, what will happen if the client is not able to pay the bill in full and whether he or she takes credit card payments, as well.
4. How Does the Attorney Communicate?
Communication is key when it comes to any attorney-client relationship. Ask the attorney what his or her preferred method is for communicating with clients, whether it be email or phone.
The attorney may also prefer that the client communicate through the paralegal first if he or she wants a quicker response. The paralegal is not allowed to give legal advice, but if the attorney is out of the office or is in court and not reachable, the paralegal or office staff member may be the best resource for the client.
Additionally, the hourly fees for communicating with a support staff member tend to be lower if the client is worried about legal fees.
5. Should the Case Go to Mediation or Trial?
Many times, it is recommended that a case settle outside of court in lieu of going before a judge. Ask the attorney if he or she recommends mediation.
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution which allows the parties to meet with a neutral, third-party mediator who works with them in hopes of settling the case, at least in part if not in full.
Mediation is not always ideal, but it does make the process of getting a divorce easier in the long run. It is the preferable alternative to preparing for a court hearing, forcing both parties to testify against the other and go through the contentious proceeding of having a judge determine how the parties’ assets and debts shall be split and how custody shall be decided.
By going through mediation, the parties maintain control over what happens in their situation instead of putting their lives in the hands of a judge who knows very little about their lives. Therefore, it is recommended the potential client ask the attorney whether he or she believes the case is best-suited for mediation instead of a final hearing.
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If you need a strong advocate in your corner, it is important you contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case. Contact us at (480) 300-6012.