The Law Offices of Christine G. DeBernardis

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Questions You Should Ask Your Divorce Attorney

When seeking a divorce attorney, there are a million questions running through your mind.  It’s wise to make a list of the topics you wish to address so that you can make the most of your time together.  Here are some questions you should be sure make that list:

1.  What is your suggested approach to my case?  A divorce case can be handled in a number of different ways.  After the attorney reviews your case, it is a good idea to ask how the attorney wants to approach the case and make sure that this lines up with your desires going forward.  For example, if the attorney doesn’t believe that an aggressive approach favors your goals, but you prefer an aggressive approach, you want to be sure that the attorney is willing to take an aggressive approach.

2. Do you have experience trying cases?   Settlement of the issues is often the best way to resolve a case.  It allows you to control the case moving forward and determine the details of what will happen in the future.  Absent a settlement, the case goes to trial.  If an attorney doesn’t have trial experience, or doesn’t prefer to go to trial, you want to know that from the start.

3.  What is your fee structure?  Any experienced attorney should be transparent and forthright about how the fees work.  She should be willing to explain what and when you will pay.  This is critical to an understanding of your case because you do not want to get into a lengthy case only to run out of funds and have to stop mid stream.  This is not to say that an attorney can tell you exactly what a case will cost (because we don’t have a crystal ball), but he or she should be able to tell you how the matter is billed, what is included, etc.

4.  What decisions will be yours and which ones will be mine?  This may sound counter intuitive because the lawyer is there to represent you so ultimately, you have the final say.  However, there will be strategic decisions, ones based on law, that will fall to your lawyer.  You should know this up front so you have no misunderstandings about who is to decide what.  In addition, you need to know that most of the decisions WILL be yours to make and that’s important.  Sometimes in divorces it can be scary to make those decisions and clients want to fall back on the attorney.  Again, these are conversations you must have at the start.

5.  How responsive will you be to my needs for communication?  This may seem silly but believe it or not, this is the number one cause of friction between lawyer and client.  Find out right off how your new lawyer plans to communication and how often BEFORE she becomes your lawyer.  If the lawyer is one who does most of the communication by email and you are NOT an email person, that’s important to know because you will need to figure out how you will find a happy medium to communication.  You need to establish some of the boundaries and work through it first so that you do not get frustrated thinking he or she is not working your case because you have not heard from her.

Think you may need to discuss your case with a divorce or family lawyer?   Contact Me for a phone consultation now. 

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