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Questions to Ask a Divorce Attorney or Family Law Attorney

The following are questions to ask any perspective divorce attorney or family law attorney before making any firm decisions about hiring them:

  • What percentage of your caseload is devoted to divorces?
  • How long have you been handling divorce cases? Custody Cases? Support Cases?
  • What is your strategy for my case? How long will it take to resolve my case?
  • How long do you take to return phone calls? How do I get a hold of you if there is an emergency? What do you consider to be an emergency?
  • Will anyone else in your office be working on my case? What experience do they have? Can I meet them?
  • How will you charge me? What is your hourly rate? Do you charge for the time I spend with other lawyers, with paralegals, and/or with secretaries?
    • If so, at what rate? What is your retainer up front? What happens when the retainer is exhausted?  What if the retainer is not all used, do I get a refund?
  • What costs, other than your own, do you expect will be involved (for example, for private investigators, forensic accountants, pension evaluators, real estate appraisers, physicians, and/or psychologists), and how will you charge me for them?
  • What’s your estimate of the total cost to me of this divorce? Understand that most divorce attorneys will not give you a guarantee as to the cost of the divorce, as that depends greatly upon the level of conflict in your case; however, the way in which the attorney answers this question may help you decide if the attorney is right for you. An attorney will often honestly answer that it is difficult to estimate the cost in advance. Be careful of an unrealistically low cost estimate.
  • Do you allow me to negotiate directly with my spouse? How can I keep the cost of my divorce down? Are there tasks that I can do myself to cut down on the amount you will charge me?
  • Based on what you know about my case, how would you predict a judge would rule on it?
  • What can you do to help me understand the tax effect of the decisions I will have to make?