You’ve decided to file for divorce and are looking for an experienced family law attorney in central-Florida. There are important questions to ask your divorce lawyer. You may have never hired an attorney before — and may be wondering where to start and what questions to ask before hiring a divorce lawyer. Most people start by asking for recommendations from family members, friends, and other lawyers you might know, even if they don’t handle divorce or domestic relations cases. But even if you received a recommendation from someone you trust, remember that you’re in the driver’s seat. You don’t need to hire the first attorney you meet. In fact, it’s a good idea to interview a number of potential divorce attorneys. Find someone you feel comfortable with. Check their qualifications. See if they’re received any awards. Find out how they’re regarded in the legal community, and whether they have a good reputation.
Once you find a few attorneys you think fit the bill, set up a meeting with them. Most lawyers offer an initial consultation. This is your opportunity to interview them, and to find out if you think they’d work well with you.
Questions to Ask a Divorce Lawyer
Here are some questions to ask before hiring a divorce lawyer, during your initial interview:
1. What percentage of your practice is devoted to divorce or other family law matters?
There are a lot of lawyers out there, and many of them advertise as “divorce” or “family law” attorneys. Some lawyers are generalists, which means they practice in a lot of different areas. Other attorneys, like me, are more focused. I focus my practice on domestic relations and criminal defense. If you work with an attorney who primarily handles divorce and domestic relations law, you know you’ll be working with someone who’s experienced, qualified, and has dealt with a situation like yours before.
2. How long have you been in practice, and how long have you been handling divorce cases?
As a Florida lawyer, I’m allowed to handle any type of case. But just because a lawyer is allowed to handle a particular type of case doesn’t mean they’re qualified to. It’s kind of like asking an orthopedic surgeon to perform a heart surgery. Technically they’re allowed to do it; but I wouldn’t want a doctor who usually re-sets fractures to work on my heart.
In the same way, lawyers tend to emphasize particular kinds of law. The longer they’ve been in practice, the more experience they’ll have, and the more likely it is that they’ll have worked on a case like yours. I have more than a decade practicing domestic relations law, and divorce and family law make up the bulk of my practice.
3. What do you think the total cost for my case will be?
Cost is an important factor in your divorce. But most Florida divorce attorneys won’t be able to give you an exact quote. Most of the time, a lawyer cannot give you an exact number because we don’t know exactly how your divorce will proceed. Will it be contentious? Are there unanticipated issues that will come up? Every client and every case is unique. So while I can usually give you an estimated range based on other cases I’ve handled, chances are, I won’t be able to give you a specific number.
Make sure you ask your attorney for an estimated range all the way through trial. Many divorces settle without trial. But if your case is contentious, you need to know what it will case to take it all the way.
4. What other expenses do you think will be involved?
In addition to paying your attorney for her time, there may also be filing fees, costs for depositions, and expenses associated with hiring experts. So one of the questions to ask before hiring a divorce lawyer is what the costs might be and how they will be paid.
5. What is your fee structure?
Different lawyers offer different fee structures. For divorce cases, I usually ask for a retainer up front, then bill against the retainer at an hourly rate. For example, I often require an initial retainer of $2,500, and charge my hourly rate against that retainer until it’s used up. Then I ask you to replenish the retainer.
6. What should I do if you’re not available when I call? How quickly can I expect you to return my phone call?
I understand that divorce is a stressful time, and that when you call, you need answers. That’s why I make every effort to answer your call when it comes in. But there are times when I am not available due to court appearances or meeting with other clients. That’s why it’s important that you develop a good relationship with my team of divorce professionals. Many times, they can answer your question if I’m not available. But if not, they’ll let me know you called, and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can, usually within one business day.
7. How would you handle my case, and how long do you think it will take to resolve?
A good divorce attorney should be able to give you a general overview of how they’d handle your case. Of course, every case is different and there's no one-size-fits all answer. There's no way to know exactly what’s going to happen, how difficult your spouse will be, if there are additional complexities like a complicated business or property issue, or a contentious custody battle. Nonetheless, you should have a general understanding of how they’d handle your case
8. How can I keep the cost of my divorce down?
Divorce can be expensive. The average cost for a divorce involving children is $20,300, and the average cost for a divorce without children is $13,000. But there are thing you can do to help control the cost of your divorce. Some divorces are more complex than others. But setting aside the complexity of dividing your marital assets, the more contentious a divorce is, the more expensive it will be. So the best way for you to control the cost of your divorce is by finding as many things that you and your spouse can agree on.
9. What should I be doing now to protect myself?
When you leave a meeting with a potential divorce attorney, you should have a good idea of what you should do next to move forward with your divorce, some advice on how to proceed, and a good understanding of the potential consequences of potential action you might consider taking.
10. Who will be working on my case, and how will you be involved personally?
I understand that divorce can be a difficult time. That's why I work hard to offer my clients a caring, compassionate atmosphere. I have a team of domestic relations professionals working with me to give you top-notch service while we aggressively assert your rights, and help guide you and you and your family through what can be a stressful time.
Questions About Divorce? Contact Our Lawyer At The Law Office of Jody L. Fisher Today
If you live in central-Florida and are considering a divorce, contact The Law Office of Jody L. Fisher today to schedule a consultation. Call (352) 503-4111, email, or complete our online form.