Going through a divorce is exhausting. Hiring the right divorce attorney will make your life infinitely easier, you want to have the right person on your side when navigating these difficult waters. There are countless lawyers out there, finding the one that's right for you is worth a bit of investigation. Here are some questions to ask that can help you in finding the best lawyer for you.
How Long Have You Been Practicing Family Law?
This is going to be one of the first and most important questions you ask your attorney. You are going to want to ensure that they are experienced with these types of cases and has the necessary family law knowledge that it'll take to smoothly handle your case. A lawyer who doesn't have a solid body of work under their belt in family law isn't necessarily a poor attorney, but they may not have the nuanced understanding needed for your specific case. You want to know that the family law team you hire is lead by an experienced professional who will not be buffeted by the facts and circumstances your case presents. You want an attorney who intrinsically understands human psychology and conflict dynamics on your side.
Do You Handle Cases Other Than Divorce Law?
The answer to this question will give you some insight to how dedicated your attorney will be to the matters involved in your case. Lawyers who practice other areas of the law as well might not be as focused on divorce cases as ones who focus exclusively on them. Additionally, lawyers who handle only divorce cases are likely to have more courtroom experience related to them. This isn't to say that lawyers who handle multiple areas of law wouldn't perform well on your case, but given the opportunity select the one who dedicates their entire professional life to working with families. Family law is extremely complicated as it touches so many areas; psychology, finances, business, bankruptcy, tax, real estate, etc. Find someone who at least understands all the nuances involved and has a referral network of other experts as needed.
How can you help me reach my goals?
This is a good gauge of how experienced your attorney is with these matters. Listen for creative problem-solving ideas, listen for clues that this person has heard you and understands your goals, listen to whether the attorney wants to help you come to peace and resolution or whether the attorney is promising a lot of "fight" (i.e. a lot of fees too).
What is Your Fee Structure?
It's always a good idea to find out how you will be billed before you start racking up the bill. Divorce proceedings can be lengthy and time consuming so it's a good idea to get an idea of what it is going to cost you. Some specific things to ask include:
- Do you charge a flat fee, or hourly?
- Is your in-court and out-of-court rate the same or different?
- Is there an advance fee deposit? If so, how much?
- How often will I be invoiced?
- Who can I talk to if I have a question about my bill?
How Will We Communicate? Rate of Response?
Communication between you and your lawyer is of the utmost importance. You need to find out as soon as possible how it will take place and what the best methods will be going forward. Some questions include:
- Will you contact me directly, or through your legal team?
- Will calling or email be more effective?
- What is a typical response time for you and your clients?
This last one is particularly important. Obviously, you'd prefer your lawyer to respond quicker rather than not, it is best to understand what their policies on this are before you move forward with your case. Responsiveness is one of the hallmark's of our practice - you will not wait for days or even hours before you get a response. We understand how stressful and volatile family law can be and the quicker you can get to your attorney, the quicker we can offer you solutions to solve the pressing need, lower your stress and diminish the conflict. Responsiveness is key to a successful attorney/client relationship. Also, working with an attorney that will patiently and repeatedly, if needed, explain the process is quite important so that you can understand the many steps involved. Ideally your lawyer will provide personalized attention, but try to communicate efficiently as to contain the cost to you.
Will Other People Be Assisting You With My Case?
Many lawyers of all types will have a team assisting them when working on complex cases. These team members will include paralegals, support staff, and other attorneys. This is not a bad thing and can often work in your benefit, the team aspect can save you money in the long-term as well as ensuring that the demands of your case are being responded to fully. Your attorney may also enlist the help of other professionals such as a financial consultant depending on the intricacies of your particular situation. If this turns out to be the case, make sure to inquire about how experienced these people are as well as what the cost will be to you.
We Can Help
Elise has extensive experience in high-conflict disputes involving both parenting and finances. If you have any questions about Washington state divorce law, mediation or child custody, please contact us at [email protected] or 206-926-9848. We look forward to partnering with divorcing parents to reach their goals of both financial empowerment as well as skillful co-parenting across two homes.