When you meet with an experienced divorce lawyer, you should leave the initial consultation feeling like you had most all of your questions answered. Depending on the facts of your situation, you may not get to every detail of your marriage with the attorney in one hour but in general the initial consultation should help you decide whether you are comfortable hiring the lawyer to represent you.
You can come prepared to an initial divorce consultation with some questions to ask the divorce lawyer. Here are the five best questions we would want all clients to ask in the initial consultation.
The 5 Best Questions to Ask a Divorce Lawyer
1. What is the typical divorce process from start to finish?
The divorce lawyer should be able to explain to you the general process of a typical divorce case from start to finish. Cases can vary depending on whether they are expected to be contested or uncontested, and the attorney will explain to you those differences as it relates to the specific state and county that you live in. Depending on the facts in your case, the attorney may spend more time talking about the process in your initial consultation. You should feel comfortable that you understand the basic process of a divorce in the court system when your initial consultation is finished.
2. How long will my divorce take?
An experienced divorce lawyer should truthfully tell you there is no way to predict exactly how long a divorce will take. The length of a divorce case depends on numerous factors, including whether it is a contested or uncontested divorce, whether custody issues are involved, the complexity of the assets and debts at issue in your case, and the cooperation (and motivation) of your spouse and their attorney and the likelihood of whether your case will be settled or will need a trial.
3. What will the divorce cost?
It is impossible to predict the total cost of the divorce due to the same reasons why it’s impossible to predict how long a divorce will take. An experienced divorce lawyer will tell you that it is difficult to estimate the costs in advance. An attorney that gives you an unrealistically low amount may just be trying to get your business. You should also ask the lawyer what the initial retainer amount is for you to engage their services, what their hourly fee is, and about their billing process. The lawyer should be able to answer all of these questions with clarity.
4. What are the possible outcomes of my case?
During the initial consultation, chances are the lawyer may have an idea of what the potential outcomes of your case could be, although it’s impossible to guarantee a specific outcome. This question can help you realize whether your goals for the case are reasonable. Beware of lawyers who will promise you everything that you want. It’s impossible to know how a case can end because of many unknown factors involved in divorces including the motivation of your spouse and their lawyer and who the judge is. You should leave the initial consultation feeling comfortable that you understand possible realistic expectations for your situation.
5. Should I do anything to protect myself?
Before you end your initial consultation, make sure to ask if there is anything you should do to protect yourself as you go through the divorce. For example, how do you address joint bank accounts or joint credit cards? What happens to your property if you decide to move out? Do you need a restraining order to prevent your spouse from harassing you or spending money to purposefully reduce your marital assets? These questions may or may not apply to your specific case but in general an experience divorce lawyer can help you feel confident that you can be protected throughout the process.
Bonus: The one question you should ask yourself.
When the initial divorce consultation is over, the main question you should ask yourself is whether you feel like you can trust the lawyer. The attorney client relationship is very important and is based on complete trust. There will be difficult decisions you will have to make throughout the divorce process that you will have lean on your divorce lawyer to help you.
This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts.
If you need help with a Nebraska or Iowa Divorce case, contact Hightower Reff Law today and come visit with one of the attorneys at the Omaha office.