Everything doesn’t always work out. It is part of life. If you are preparing for a divorce and looking at the often overwhelming list of divorce attorneys in your area, it can be hard to ensure you making the right choice for you. After all, no divorce is cheap, and you want to hire someone you can trust to make an already stressful process a little easier. Here are 5 questions you should ask when you are considering hiring a divorce attorney.
- Do they practice family law exclusively?
You want an attorney who focuses their practice on what you need: a divorce. The only answer here is family law (divorce and custody cases). An attorney who focuses on divorce is going to be able to help you quicker and more cost-effectively. Plus, they are going to know the ins and outs of the laws and be able to give you better advice.
- Are they the attorney who will be working on your divorce or will it be handed off to a less-experienced associate?
While having a team working for you is beneficial, you also want to be sure the lead attorney is the one you can call with questions and express your concerns. While certain questions should be answered by an assistant to save you money (what time is court?) other questions need to be answered by your attorney (what do you expect to happen at court?). Being able to work with your attorney leaves you feeling more secure and reduces the stress of a divorce.
- Have they worked with the attorney your ex hired?
While this may not be determinative, it is helpful. An attorney who has experience working with opposing counsel is going to “know their tricks” and be able to be more proactive in protecting your interests. Further, they are going to be able to give you a more realistic cost projection and time assessment. Many costs in divorce actions are based on how the other attorney practices and the wishes of your ex.
- What do they believe the outcome will be?
You want an attorney who delivers the truth to you—even if it is hard and you do not agree. This is not the time to look for someone who gives you a fairytale ending. An attorney who can advise you on the law and the practicability of your decisions is imperative to reaching a solution. This doesn’t mean they don’t fight for you—just that they preach practicality when considering your options. The only people who really win during a long contentious divorce are the attorneys. Make sure they are not the ones fueling the fire. Of course, your attorney cannot control your ex and the fire may already be well lit. If so, make sure your attorney is ready for the fight.
- What is their hourly rate and billing terms?
Every attorney charges differently and you need to have set expectations with your attorney over what you will be charged for. A simple hourly rate with no explanation often leaves you with a large surprise bill at the end of the month. Make sure your attorney is up front about how and when they bill you. Divorces are expensive. But failing to understand what you will and will not be billed for will only tear down the trust between you and your divorce attorney. If they can’t openly discuss fees with you initially, you should consider whether or not they are going to be a good fit.
If you need to discuss your options, give our family law team a call today at 605-777-1772. Divorce is hard enough. Choosing the right attorney shouldn’t be.