Questions to Ask a Divorce Lawyer 

Hiring a divorce lawyer is hard. It is hard because the divorce process is highly emotional. For most, divorce is a major life event. The law expects you to deal with the legal process of divorce, which is often very continuous and highly emotional, logically. So, it might be necessary to find a divorce lawyer as soon as possible if you are expecting a divorce. Many divorce lawyers offer free consultation while many do not. Regardless, a consultation with a divorce lawyer is an opportunity for you and the divorce lawyer to ask questions you have about the process. This blog will help you with coming up with a list of questions to ask a divorce lawyer during consultations.

Divorce Lawyer Communication Preference 

Ask your divorce lawyer about his or her preferred method of communication. Communication is important. The client makes some decisions. The divorce lawyer will need to make others. A good divorce lawyer must be able to explain to you the consequences of decisions. Whether it is via email, phone, text, or any combination of these, you should be comfortable with the method of communication. If you dislike communication by email or text, tell the lawyer. If you can better share your concerns and thoughts through email or text, then a question to ask a divorce lawyer is whether he or she can accommodate your preference. Lawyers are busy people. For some, talking over the phone is faster and clearer. Others may like to explain your case in writing. It is important that you and your divorce lawyer agree on how to communicate about your case. So, include this topic on your list of questions to ask a divorce lawyer.

Examples:

  1. What is your preferred method of communication?
  2. Can I text you or your office?
  3. Will I be able to contact you directly via phone?
  4. Can I contact you via email?
  5. How will you give me updates on my case?
  6. How often can I expect update or communication from you or your firm?

Questions to ask a divorce lawyer about attorney fees

An important set of questions to ask a divorce lawyer during a consultation concerns the fee structure of the lawyer or the firm. Most divorce lawyers charge an hourly fee. Client must pay an initial deposit. A divorce lawyer deducts the hourly fee from the initial fee. Once the deposit runs out, you may need to add more money. A divorce lawyer will charge between $250 to $600 per-hour, while a paralegal might charge $150 to $300 per-hour. A paralegal should do the basic legal work. Document preparation can be time consuming. It is unnecessary for a divorce lawyer to charge his fees in preparing documents a paralegal can prepare that.  An associate attorney and not the senior partner should likely make a simple court appearance. When you meet with for consultation, include fee structure questions in your list of questions to ask a divorce lawyer.

Example:

  1. How do you charge for your fees?
  2. What is your hourly fee?
  3. Do you do all the legal work?
  4. Do have a paralegal to do the work paperwork?
  5. What is your paralegals fee?
  6. Can lower level lawyers that can make the less important court appearances?

Ask the divorce lawyer for his or her initial thoughts 

A good divorce lawyer must analyze a strength and weaknesses of your case. This is important because you (as a client) will need to make important decisions about how you want your case to move forward. A divorce lawyer can give you recommendations as to strategy. Yet, at the end, you are the ultimate decision maker. So, during a consultation, ask about the divorce lawyer about his or her initial thoughts on the strength and weaknesses of your case. Ask for his or her objective opinion. If a child custody is likely to be an issue, ask the divorce lawyer for his or her opinion. Most divorce lawyers will not give conclusive statements as to outcome. This is because divorce lawyers must make sure you are aware outcome of divorce cases are fact sensitive. Minor events can change outcomes. Yet, the divorce lawyer should be open to telling you the strengths and weaknesses of your case, guaranteeing no particular outcome.

Examples:

  1. What are your initial thoughts?
  2. What are the issues in my divorce?
  3. What are the strength and weaknesses of my case?

QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN A DIVORCE LAWYER WHEN THERE IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 

In a high conflict divorce, domestic violence can become an issue as the divorce goes through the family court. If there is a domestic violence order (whether permanent or temporary) against you, then ask the lawyer about the meaning of the court order and what you must do to follow it. Court orders have the force of the law, even though they are orders made by judges. It is important that you understand them and follow them. If you are a protected person and the other party is violating the domestic violence order, then ask the divorce lawyer how you can enforce the order. You may be able to get a personal conduct order, move-out order or other protective orders to keep you safe and free from harassment, threats, or disruption of your peace.

Examples

Is there a court order that limits what I can or cannot do?

  1. What does the court order mean?
  2. How can I follow the court order?
  3. Can I contact my child?
  4. I do not feel safe, what can I do to protect myself and my child?
  5. Can I get a restraining order or a move-out order?

QUESTIONS TO ASK A DIVORCE LAWYER WHEN CHILDREN ARE INVOLVED

Divorce is difficult when you have children. When you live with your children, you see them frequently.  Divorce changes things. A parent accustomed to freely spending time with his or her child is now obligated to follow a custody or visitation schedule. Courts like to give both parents the ability to have continuous and frequent contact with their child. Both parents may make important decisions for the child if the court orders joint legal custody. Primary physical custody may be given to one parent. Yet, a noncustodial parent will probably have reasonable parenting time. In child custody cases, patience is a virtue. Custody issues are highly emotional and contested in family court.  Include your child custody questions on the list of questions to ask a divorce lawyer during your initial meeting.

Examples:

  1. What is primary physical custody?
  2. What is legal physical custody?
  3. How does the court determine who gets custody?
  4. How often can I see my child?
  5. How often can I get visitation?
  6. What if I want to change custody later when I settle down after the divorce?
  7. My child does not want to spend time with me because of the divorce, what can I do?

QUESTIONS TO ASK A DIVORCE LAWYER ABOUT CHILD SUPPORT?

Child support questions should be among the list of important questions to ask a divorce lawyer during your initial meeting. Child support is a duty owed to the child by both parents. In California, each parent must contribute to supporting the child. The law presumes the custodial parent is supporting the child financially. Thus, the noncustodial parent will often have to pay the custodial parent his or her portion of support. Failure to pay child support in violation of a court order can be a criminal offense. Child support in modifiable.  changed and if not paid an enforcement action is often the remedy. When meeting with a divorce lawyer ask your child support obligation.

 

Examples

  1. Explain how child support works?
  2. Do I have an obligation to pay child support?
  3. How can I establish child support?
  4. How can I change child support amount?

Conclusion

In short, hiring a divorce lawyer is complicated. Hopefully by going over questions to ask your divorce lawyer, the process becomes easier.

Related Readings

Child Custody Modification

Child Custody Modification

In California, modifying a child custody order requires a proof of significant change in circumstances. However, like most rules in the legal field, this rule also comes with important exceptions. Here, I will discuss some of those exceptions. However, first I will discuss where the change in circumstances rule comes from and why it exists in child custody cases.

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