Guide to Consult a Divorce Lawyer
Getting the right lawyer for your divorce can make the traumatic process of divorce relatively easier. It not only saves you a lot of emotional trauma but also reduce the stress of dealing with the situation alone. Here are certain questions you must ask your potential divorce lawyer in order to make a well-informed choice.
How experienced are you in this field?
In the legal field, age doesn’t account for experience, but neither does experience in general litigation. A complicated area like divorce deserves to be handled by someone who has both experience and expertise in the field of family law and understands the nuances involved in a divorce case very clearly.It is perfectly alright to ask your potential lawyer beforehand if they are specialised in dealing with divorce cases and if they have handled such cases previously.
How will you charge me?
A divorce lawyer, depending on her/his experience and degree of complexity of the situation, will charge accordingly. It is advisable to get a lawyer in the city where the proceedings are taking place to reduce cost of travel, as well as to bank upon the goodwill that lawyer may have in that city, and particularly in the court where the case would be filed. At the initial stage only, it is advisable to go over the payment pro cess and decide how the same would be done. Here are some handy pointers that will help you decide the payment structure:
Retainer fee or hourly fee?
How often will the billing be done?
Payment options: cheque or credit card?
Additional charges for additional drafting work?
Payment for time spent by other staff at office?
What are the likely extra charges, over and above the fee?
What are the various steps in the divorce process?
The foremost job of a lawyer is to make sure that you are well-versed with the procedure to be followed for a divorce. A good lawyer will not only educate you but will also be your guide through the entire process of divorce and protect your interests. It is advisable that you request your lawyer at the initial stage only to clearly explain the various steps involved, right from filing the petition till the end of the trial.
How will you communicate with me?
Here are some questions that you must ask in order to have a smooth communication channel between you and your lawyer.
Preferred mode of communication? Some lawyers prefer to respond to texts that attend calls for every query.
How long would s/he generally take to return a call?
How long would s/he generally take to respond to an email?
It is advisable to make sure that your lawyer has scanning facilities available with her/him in order to mail you scanned copies of important drafts and documents as and when. This is particularly necessary if you and your lawyer are not in the same area and it is not convenient for you to visit her/his office every now and then.
How long with the divorce take?
Based on his prior experience, the complexity of the situation and whether you are willing to settle or would want to go for a trial, a lawyer will be able to assess the approximate time that your divorce proceeding will take.
What do you think of mediation?
In cases where the estranged couple broadly agrees on the various aspects of the divorce, mediation is a practical option. The process of mediation involves hiring a mediator who is trained in conflict resolution and family law in order to oversee negotiations on financial and custodial arrangement. Even though there is not much difference between the hourly rate charged by a lawyer and a mediator, couples usually spend lesser time with the latter owing to the fact they both agree to do most of the information gathering and sharing. This significantly cuts down the number of hours for which the mediator’s services are hired.
How do you think the judge would rule?
Once you are able to understand the grounds on which the judge’s ruling may depend, it will be easier for you and your lawyer to present grounds which may help your case. Even though lawyer cannot guarantee which way the case would go, understanding the judge’s perspective will help her/him proceed accordingly.
Will you be helping me with additional resources?
Apart from the technicalities involved in a divorce, the emotional trauma of breaking-up of a marriage could take a toll on the client. Upon being asked, the lawyer may be able to help you with other professional services like therapy and financial counselling to make the situation relatively bearable.
What will be the final cost of my divorce?
On the basis of her/his past experience, your lawyer should be able to offer you a considered opinion to financially prepare you for the aftermath of the divorce. However, the actual cost would depend on a good deal of factors which are beyond the control of your lawyer, and hence may not always be accurate. You relationship with your estranged spouse and the reasonableness of her/his lawyer are some such factors.
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These guides are not legal advice, nor a substitute for a lawyer
These articles are provided freely as general guides. While we do our best to make sure these guides are helpful, we do not give any guarantee that they are accurate or appropriate to your situation, or take any responsibility for any loss their use might cause you. Do not rely on information provided here without seeking experienced legal advice first. If in doubt, please always consult a lawyer.
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