Questions to Ask a Lawyer During Your Initial Divorce Consultation
Little girls do role plays of fairy-tale-like weddings with their friends. Women from all walks of life hope to get romantic proposals from their significant other. Ladies of different ages have dreamt of having their perfect wedding. But no one has ever fantasized of sitting in front of an attorney’s office waiting for her divorce consultation. It’s grim and traumatic but it happens. And for those getting a divorce for the first time, the whole filing process makes them feel lost – adding to the stress and emotional burden that they already have. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s good to know that there are trust-worthy divorce lawyers in different places in the country like Baltimore, MD who can assist you through the whole ordeal of filing a divorce.
So where do you begin? Formulating questions to ask a divorce lawyer is always a good start. A typical consultation lasts for about an hour and you want to make sure that you make the best of it. The goal is to have a clear idea of what your next steps should be by the end of the meeting. If you already have your list of questions, here are additional questions that you can ask during your consultation.
If I reach out to you, when can I expect to receive a response?
- You can’t expect your lawyer to respond immediately. It would most likely depend on what your lawyer is handling at the time and if the situation is exigent, but most attorneys have their process of when they will respond. A professional lawyer will set the right expectation so that you won’t have to wait anxiously for his phone call.
Is divorce law your specialty?
- Going to a generalist lawyer for your divorce case isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s advisable to seek the help of an attorney who specializes in divorce. Don’t be afraid to ask this question to the attorney. Remember that you are looking for someone who could best represent you in your case.
What are your thoughts on mediation?
- Mediation is a process where a neutral third-party will help the involved parties in resolving their conflict. This can be an effective way to settle a divorce case. You can ask more about mediation from the attorney and if it is appropriate in your situation or not. You need to know if he is open to other options aside from litigation.
Do you have experience litigating cases?
- Sometimes, you don’t have any other choice but to go to court. By asking this question, you will have a good sense of the lawyer’s experience in going to trial and the types of cases that he works on.
How do you bill? How can I keep my attorney’s fees down?
- It’s important to understand the fee structure of an attorney because you need to know your financial obligations throughout the proceeding. It’s not enough to ask if they bill by the hour or if they have a fixed fee. How about phone calls or email charges? Do they charge for extra copies or postages? Are expenses for psychologists and private investigators included in the flat fee?
- There are ways to keep your costs down. For example, you can request and organize your financial records so that your attorney won’t have to get it from your spouse or issue subpoenas to get documents from banks. Remember, the more you do, the less your lawyer has to do which means the lesser fees they will bill you.
Do you have experience with the different judges in my county?
- Lawyers work on many cases in different cities or towns, but most of his cases are probably in the same location as his office. You’ll learn a lot about a lawyer’s work experience from his answer to this question.
Who else will be working on my case?
- It is crucial to know who else will be working on your file, like a paralegal or a younger associate. Ask what their roles will be, how much does each one charge, and who will be your point of contact.
How do you see my divorce going?
- After explaining your situation, asking this question is a good way for you to get an insight into what the lawyer thinks of your case and what approach he will take. If it’s litigation, expect a higher bill. If it’s mediation, it means that he’ll try to minimize court appearances and costs.
The long and short of it is that your first consultation with a divorce attorney is your chance to get some clarity to questions you may have about your divorce case. If the attorney said something that you don’t quite understand, don’t be shy to ask him to explain it again.
If you are filing for a divorce in Maryland and you need to consult with an experienced attorney, call us at (240) 609-9000 or (855) 406-0000 to schedule an appointment with Richard Hackerman, a long-serving divorce lawyer in Baltimore, MD.