Things a Divorce Lawyer Won’t Tell You Unless You Ask

If you are considering hiring a divorce lawyer to help you there are certain questions you need to ask during your consultation.
Many lawyers will address these things without you asking them but many won’t unless prompted.  Here are some questions you should ask.
  1. How many years of experience do you have in family law?   Lawyers that have not been doing family law for long are unlikely to come out and say it out of fear that the potential client won’t hire.
  2. Do you do anything  other than family law? All lawyers have law degrees, but many lawyers have several practice areas they work in.  If you had a heart problem you likely would not want your general practitioner to operate… you’d want a heart surgeon.  Why would you want a generalist to handle your divorce case?  Alimonyequitable distribution, and other family law issues are complicated.
  3. What steps are involved in the process and how long will it take?   It is the first time you’ve been through but your lawyer has doen it many times.  Your lawyer  should tell you the steps in the process.  if you get the sense that the lawyer does not know the steps you should be talking to another lawyer.
  4. How much will this cost me?  There are two schools of thought among lawyers about how to charge for their time in family law cases: flat fees and hourly.   The lawyer should indicate that your fees will be set out in a written agreement.  Make sure you know the hourly rate of your lawyer and staff that works on your case.
  5. How will we communicate?  Most lawyers these days will use email. Ask your lawyer if they prefer phone contact over email, and how long you should expect to wait for a return call or email response.
  6. Do you recommend mediation? Some lawyers like to settle cases and don’t like to go to court.  Some lawyers like to go to court and settlement is a last option.  You want an attorney that is a skilled trial lawyer and who thinks settlement should be attempted whenever possible.
  7. What fees and costs can I expect other than charges for your time? Your local county clerk’s office will charge a filing fee to open a case. There are also filing fees for motions and service fees if you have to pay a process server to serve your spouse with divorce papers. Your case may require experts, such as custody evaluators, appraisers, accountants, social workers, or psychologists. Ask your lawyer what costs to expect, what experts may be needed, and how you will be charged for these additional services.
  8. How would you predict a judge would rule on the issues in my case?  No lawyer can or should guarantee a result; however, they can give you an idea of what a likely result would look like and give you an idea whether or not the outcome you want is likely or unlikely.
  9. How do you share information with me? In 2012 there is no reason for any attorney not to make provisions for a client to be able to access documents in their case over the internet and to get immediate notification when a document is posted to their file.  Your attorney should have email and be willing to share his or her cell phone number with you.

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Raleigh divorce lawyer Scott Allen handles alimony, equitable distribution, child support,  child custody, and temporary custody  and has over seventeen years of experience.  

If you have questions or need assistance call him at (919) 863-4183 or email at sallen@allenspence.com.